The French are disappointed as their 2016 contract for diesel Attack Class submarines worth €50billion has been cancelled, but Boris Johnson has sought to reassure France that UK’s military relationship with France is “rock solid”.
London: Global Britain is joining hands with US and Australia in a joint sub-maritime endeavour. The AUKUS security partnership announced by PM Scott Morrison, PM Boris Johnson and President Biden will protect the rules-based international order, deepen security and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region; the trilateral will promote deeper information and technology sharing and foster deeper integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases.
The first initiative will be collaboration on a fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, to defend Australia and protect Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, if threatened by China’s expansionism. Although this is not expressly stated, but the subtext is clear. The new alliance complements NATO, the world’s most established defence alliance but not the one to confront China, and the Carrier Strike Group. The work done by AUKUS will support shared goals in new regions, promoting stability and protecting people against new and emerging threats.
The new nuclear-powered submarine’s initial scoping phase is expected to take 18 months leveraging the joint expertise and experience of UK and US, through the work carried out by Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. This period will be used to examine the full suite of requirements that underpin nuclear stewardship, with a specific focus on safety, design, construction, operation, maintenance, disposal, regulation, training, environmental protection, installations and infrastructure, basing, workforce and force structure.
The intention is to build the submarines in Adelaide and to bring the Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date. The Morrison government has established a Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force led by VADM Jonathan Mead AO to facilitate Australia’s role in AUKUS.
At the moment, only six countries possess nuclear-powered submarines—UK, 8; US, 52; France, 7; Russia, 17; China, 6; and India, 1. Nuclear-powered submarines have superior characteristics of stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability, and almost limitless endurance, when compared to conventional submarines. They can deploy unmanned underwater vehicles and can also carry more advanced and a greater number of weapons. These abilities allow nuclear-powered submarines to operate in contested areas with a lower risk of detection.
AUKUS will enhance the partnership’s joint capabilities and interoperability, with initial efforts focussing on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities. The new alliance bolsters the UK’s Integrated Review commitment to strengthen alliances with like-minded allies and deepen ties in the Indo-Pacific and brings UK closer to the CPTPP, it can definitely be see as consolidating UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific.
The French are disappointed/furious as their 2016 contract for diesel Attack Class submarines worth €50billion has been cancelled, but Boris Johnson has sought to reassure France that UK’s military relationship with France is “rock solid”. Folks are already speculating about a permanent AUKUS port in the region.
China is not pleased, although AUKUS is a response to years of China’s aggressive militarisation. CGTN reports that the new strategic alliance is not conducive to peace and US is interested only in powerplay instead of cooperation. Lijian Zhao, spokesman for the China’s Foreign Ministry said, “The nuclear submarine cooperation among the US, the UK and Australia severely undermines regional peace and stability, intensifies arms race and undercuts international non-proliferation efforts. It’s highly irresponsible and shows double standards on using nuclear export for geopolitical games.”