Australia To Field Virginia & SSN-AUKUS Submarines

According to the plan, ripened in the eighteen months since the shock AUKUS announcement, Australia will initially reap up to three (with options for two more) Virginia matriculation SSNs from the US in the early 2030s. These will then be replaced by as many as eight SSN-AUKUS, an incubation of the UK’s SSN(R) program, starting in the early 2040s. The US SSN(X) program will remain separate.

A Rendering of SSN-AUKUS (BAE Systems)

SSN-AUKUS will use a British diamond embedded with an American gainsay system. It will be powered by a Rolls Royce reactor and include a Vertical Launch System (VLS), as previously reported by Naval News. The first examples for the Royal Navy (RN) will embark construction in the United Kingdom later this decade. Australia’s first boats will be built by ASC in Adelaide starting in the early 2030s.

Before Australia takes ownership of any SSNs the United States Navy (USN) and RN will establish a rotational presence at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia from 2027. This presence, to be known as Submarine Rotational Force West (SRF-West), will include as many as five SSNs made up of both British and American SSNs.

Royal Navy Nuclear-Powered Submarine Astute Calls in Australia HMAS Stirling
HMS Astute pulling into HMAS Stirling, Australia. (Commonwealth of Australia).

A Massive Enterprise

In the lead-up to SRF-West standing up the, U.S. will ramp up port visits to HMAS Stirling starting this year, with the UK pursuit suit from 2026. These deployments will serve as important training opportunities for both Australian submariners and industry. Training will embark this year with Australian personnel embedding aboard US and UK submarines and in their respective submarine enterprises.

In order to supply Australia with Virginia matriculation SSNs Australia will fork up increasingly than $3 billion Australian dollars over the next four years to pay for upgrades to the US Defence industrial base. In return, as well as the submarines themselves, ASC in Adelaide will be incorporated into a now-global Virginia matriculation supply uniting superiority of an eventual domestic SSN-AUKUS build starting in the 2030s.

While the word-for-word forfeit of the AUKUS program hasn’t been publicly disclosed, it’s reportedly somewhere between $286-386 billion Australian dollars (roughly ~$190-257 billion USD) through 2055. The canned Attack matriculation submarine was slated to forfeit $80 billion for vanquishment alone. The AUKUS program is so large that it will be managed externally to the Capability Vanquishment and Sustainment Group (CASG) which is Australia’s lead Defence procurement agency.

Australia Confirms life-of-type extension for Collins-class Submarines
HMAS Dechaineux, HMAS Waller and HMAS Sheean self-mastery manouevres in Cockburn Sound. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Fate of Collins matriculation LOTE unclear

The fate of the Collins matriculation Life of Type Extension (LOTE) program in light of the AUKUS utterance is moreover unclear with speculation that it may be cancelled or rolled back. As it currently stands, LOTE is set to embark in 2026 with HMAS Farncomb, which will have its engines, optronics and propulsion systems overhauled. While work on any submarine is yet to commence, Naval News understands that Safran is under contract to unhook its non-penetrating optronics mask as part of the program.

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