Biden, Sunak, Albanese to Hold Talks on AUKUS Defense Pact, Challenges on Monday

The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) departs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for sea trials following a maintenance availabilityInternationalIndiaAfricaWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – On Monday, US President Joe Biden will meet with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego for talks on working together to build nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian navy pursuant to the trilateral pact between the nations. The pact, which also includes cooperation on cyber, artificial intelligence, and military technologies, was announced in September 2021 in part as an effort to create deterrence against China’s aggression in the Pacific region. Currently, only six countries have nuclear submarines: the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and India. Existing in three parts, the pact positions Australia to host some US submarines before 2030, with Canberra purchasing at least three Virginia-class submarines in subsequent years. As part of Australia’s biggest-ever defense project, the country will fund the building of joint UK-Australia nuclear-powered submarines designed after British Astute-class boats, which could come into service as early as the 2040s. There have been concerns about the US’s ability to manufacture more submarines, as the two companies currently contracted out to build their own boats often struggle to meet the navy’s production goals, often falling short of the two-boats-per-annum goal by half a boat. With its lengthy timeline, AUKUS’s success relies heavily on unified political leadership, commitment, and funds. The hope is that with Australia’s added funds, additional facilities can be added to the US to bolster its production values, suggesting potential for future deals between the US and Australia. Building the smaller and less-expensive UK-inspired submarines instead of boats modeled after the larger Virginia-class vessels will allow for smaller crews and smaller hulls, a decision that benefits Canberra’s small navy. However, these models will still rely on US technology and components, which will require the US, who hasn’t yet shared such technology with other nations, to rethink regulations around exports. If all goes well and the three countries are able to pull off such a large industrial endeavor, the AUKUS deal will represent a way to memorialize Biden’s national security policy.


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