Britain poised to DOUBLE fleet of nuclear-submarines in new alliance
Britain could double its number of nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines as part of a major new tri-nation alliance. At a landmark summit in San Diego, Rishi Sunak joined Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agreed to a pact designed to help Australia help the West counter the threat posed by China in the Indo-Pacific.
Echoing former US President John F Kennedy he said the alliance would “maintain freedom, peace and security.”
The so-called Aukus agreement will see the UK and US supply nuclear technology to Australia for the first time and help create thousands of jobs in the UK.
It replaces a deal Australia had already signed to buy diesel-powered submarines from France.
The pact enraged Emmanuel Macron and sparked warnings from Beijing.
Under the pact the UK and Australia will both build new submarines to a British-based design known as “SSN-AUKUS”.
Construction of the UK’s submarines will take place principally in Barrow-in-Furness with some other jobs being created in Derby
The Daily Express understands that between eight and 20 new subs as part of the deal.
Australia will work over the next decade to build up its own submarine industrial base, and will build its subs in South Australia with some components manufactured in the UK.
The first UK submarines will be delivered in the late 2030s to replace the current Astute-Class vessels, and the first Australian submarines will follow in the early 2040s.
The SSN-AUKUS submarines will be the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack subs ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world-leading sensors, design and weaponry in one vessel.
Speaking alongside Mr Biden and Mr Albanese at the Point Loma Naval base Mr Sunak said: “Sixty years ago, here in San Diego, President Kennedy spoke of ‘A higher purpose – the maintenance of freedom, peace and…security’.
“Today, we stand together, united by that same purpose.”
He added that countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea “all threaten to create a world defined by danger, disorder, and division.”
He added: “Faced with this new reality, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the resilience of our own countries.
“That’s why the UK is today announcing a significant uplift in our defence budget.
“This will allow us to replenish our own war stocks.
“And modernise our nuclear enterprise, delivering Aukus and strengthening our deterrent.”
Describing Aukus as “the most significant multilateral defence partnership in generations”, he added: “Our partnership is significant not just because we are building these submarines together they will also be truly interoperable.
“For the first time ever, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come.
“We represent three allies who have stood shoulder to shoulder together for more than a century.
“Three peoples who have shed blood together in defence of our shared values.
“And three democracies that are coming together again to fulfil that higher purpose of maintaining freedom, peace, and security now and for generations to come.”
The Aukus pact comes at the same time as Mr Sunak announced a £5 billion boost in defence spending over the next two years.
Some £2 billion of this will be spent modernising the UK’s nuclear enterprise and funding the next phase of the submarine programme.
Construction will start on the UK’s SNN-AUKUS submarines towards the end of this decade. The UK’s SSN-AUKUS submarines will be built by BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.
Once they are operational, the UK’s new SSN-AUKUS submarines will replace our current Astute-Class submarines.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is a significant step forward for our three nations as we work together to contribute to security in the Indo-Pacific and across the world.
“Supporting thousands of jobs across the UK, with many in the north-west of England, this endeavour will boost prosperity across our country and showcase the prowess of British industry to our allies and partners.”
To deliver the new submarines by the earliest possible date, Royal Australian Navy personnel will be embedded in the Royal Navy and US Navy, and – subject to necessary arrangements – at British and American submarine industrial bases, by the end of this year.
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