Australia is planning to invest $3 billion over the next five years to expedite the delivery of five nuclear-powered submarines purchased from the US earlier this year.
In an interview with Breaking Defense, Royal Australian Navy Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead explained that Canberra is putting the money into long-lead items and to “help fund the expansion of American shipyards that will build and retrofit the Australian subs.”
“It’s partly long-lead items, but it’s also partly working on those yards where our submarines will come out of for us,” he explained.
No further details were revealed, though Australia’s defense budget will fall from $154 to $152.5 billion over the next five years, meaning the funds will probably not be distributed for at least two years.
Australia plans to cover two-thirds of its submarine budget for the next decade with savings from a canceled multi-billion-dollar submarine deal with France, and a further $3-billion budget absorption elsewhere in defense.
Mead estimated that the Virginia-class submarines will be fast-tracked to Australia in the early 2030s.
An Enduring Deal
Back in March, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described his bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden as “the single biggest leap” in the country’s defense capability.
The nuclear submarine deal was signed after 18 months of negotiations, made possible by the trilateral AUKUS partnership to promote cooperation on undersea capabilities.
The agreement will produce the first-ever group of nuclear submarines exported from the US since the 1960s, when Washington backed Britain by designing its undersea fleet.