September 17, 2021
What are nuclear-powered submarines and how do they work? Australia's firepower ambitions explained
Journalist Brad Lendon
With Australia making a deal with the United States and the United Kingdom to begin a nuclear-powered submarine program, we can expect the Aussie subs will look a lot like the latest versions in the US and British arsenals.
The fleets of the US Navy and Royal Navy have two kinds of submarines -- categorized as attack and ballistic missile. Both are powered by nuclear reactors, which convert water into high-pressure steam that turns turbines to propel the subs.But attack subs and ballistic missiles subs -- often called "boomers" -- serve very different purposes. Australia is signing up for the nuclear-powered option, or attack sub, rather than the boomers, which are nuclear-armed, with nuclear warheads on their ballistic missiles.
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