n a significant move aimed at countering China’s growing ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region, the United States, Australia, and Britain have announced plans to provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines. The agreement, known as AUKUS, includes the US selling three Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, with an option for two more if needed. In addition, British and Australian forces will produce and operate a new submarine class based on Britain’s next-generation design, incorporating advanced US technologies.
This marks the first time the US has shared nuclear-propulsion technology since it did so with Britain in the 1950s. The submarines will not have nuclear weapons on board, but their nuclear propulsion systems will provide increased range, speed, and endurance, giving Australia a significant strategic advantage in the region.
The decision to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is significant, as it represents a major shift in the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region. China has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities in recent years, with a particular focus on building up its navy. The Chinese navy is now the largest in the world, with an estimated 350 ships and submarines. China’s growing naval power has raised concerns in the US and its allies, particularly as China has become more assertive in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
The US, Australia, and Britain have emphasized that the decision to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is not aimed at containing China, but rather at promoting stability and security in the region. However, the move is likely to be seen as a clear signal to China that the US and its allies are willing to take concrete steps to counter its growing power.
The cost of the project is estimated to be AUD 368 billion ($245 billion) by 2055, highlighting the significant investment that is being made by the three countries to enhance security in the Indo-Pacific region. The cost of the submarines themselves is estimated to be around AUD 90 billion ($60 billion), with the rest of the funding going towards infrastructure, training, and other associated costs.
The decision to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines has caused tension with France, which had a previous deal to supply conventional submarines to Australia. The decision to cancel this deal has been labeled a “stab in the back” by French officials, who have accused the US of acting unilaterally and undermining trust between allies. The US and its allies have emphasized that the decision to cancel the deal was due to the need to enhance security in the Indo-Pacific region and was not intended as a slight towards France.
The decision to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is just the first stage of the AUKUS agreement. The second stage will involve the development of hypersonics and other advanced weaponry that can be deployed more quickly.
This is seen as vital given China’s growing power and ambitions in the region. China has been investing heavily in developing hypersonic weapons, which are designed to travel at speeds of Mach 5 or higher and are difficult to intercept. The US and its allies have been working to develop their own hypersonic weapons to counter this threat. The AUKUS agreement has been welcomed by some analysts