The Royal Australian Navy is considering whether its Collins-class submarines could be outfitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles, Naval News reported, citing the head of Navy Capability.
“We’re doing the work to look at what it would take to put Tomahawk into those [Collins class] ships,” the outlet quoted Rear Admiral Peter Quinn as saying.
If the navy moves forward with the plan, it will likely be done during the planned 6 billion Australian dollars ($4.2 billion) Life of Type Extension (LOTE) refurbishment of its six Collins submarines, beginning in 2026.
Would Require Tube-Launched version
Under the LOTE refurbishment, every vessel would go through a two-year overhaul of its power, propulsion, and sensors, the outlet wrote.
The lack of vertical launch systems on the Collins means the tube-launched variant of the missile would have to be procured. However, it is currently out of production.
The outlet speculated that Tomahawk manufacturer Raytheon would be able to restart production, especially if the Australian navy places an order along with the UK Royal Navy, which also uses the tube-launched version.
Collins Can Accommodate Tomahawks
“The Collins class is one of the largest non-nuclear submarines and has a relatively large weapons load,” submarine expert H I Sutton told the outlet.
“Carrying Tomahawks aboard is thus not as challenging as on smaller submarines. The adjustments to the weapons stowage and handling would be minor.
“The US made combat system, which connects to the weapons launch, would need to be upgraded. But this is to be expected during the LOTE anyway.
The Tomahawks will provide the Royal Australian Navy with a ‘first night’ strike capability which could be employed in both tactical and strategic scenarios.”