March 13, 2023
The Anglophone Military Alliance in Asia is Seriously Ambitious
Source: The Economist
American technology will suffuse this new "SSN-AUKUS". America will provide its vertical-launching system, a set of tubes that can hold a greater number of missiles, and more advanced ones, than traditional torpedo tubes. No British attack submarine has had this capability. The defence industries of all three countries will be entangled to an unprecedented degree. Subsystems like communications gear, sonar and fire control should be compatible between the Anglo-Australian boat and the next American one. “We’ll almost be one joint nuclear submarine force,” says one official involved in the pact. It will be a “beautiful, blended submarine” gushes another.
But, like that of whisky, the production of high-end subs is measured in double-digit years. Australia’s current boats are around 30 years old and must be retired by the early 2030s. The first "SSN-AUKUS" will not be in Australia’s hands until the early 2040s. It takes at least 15 years to produce a submarine commanding officer in America’s navy, says Tom Shugart, who reached that position himself—partly because of the complexity of training officers in how to use and maintain nuclear propulsion systems. China’s navy, the largest in the world, already looks dangerous. To bridge the gap, the three leaders announced two further path-breaking steps.
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