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Australia Greenlights Life Extension Program for Collins Submarines

Australia is revamping the first of its six Collins-class submarines to extend their service life until the 2040s.

The Life of Type Extension (LOTE) program is a result of studies to reduce naval capability gaps before Canberra’s new attack submarines, the Virginia-class nuclear-powered fleet, arrive in the 2030s.

The government will spend 4 to 5 billion Australian dollars ($2.65 to $3.32 billion) for the initiative.

Work will be facilitated in partnership with ASC Pty. Ltd., Raytheon Australia, BAE Systems, and Thales, among others.

Related work will be performed in Osborne, South Australia, and Henderson, West Australia.

HMAS Farncomb, the second Collins submarine, will receive its first repairs under LOTE in 2026.

An Australian Collins-class diesel-electric submarine
An Australian Collins-class diesel-electric submarine in Sydney in 2016. France was in September 2021 dropped as the partner due to build their replacements. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

“The life-of-type extension program underscores the Albanese Government’s unwavering commitment to keeping Australians safe by ensuring the [Australian Defence Force] has the capabilities it needs to deter potential adversaries,” Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy stated.

“Sustainment of the Collins class submarines continues to meet the Navy’s operational requirements and ensures the submarines remain an enduring, potent and credible capability that is critical to Australia’s national security.”

“The sustainment and upgrade work on the Collins class submarines give industry the certainty it needs and will provide a further boost for Australians who will benefit from the creation of highly skilled and well-paid jobs.” 

No Optronics or Tomahawks

In its announcement, the Australian government noted that the Collins-class fleet will not receive an optronics upgrade as per the original LOTE plan due to “added complexity and risk” for the ships.

The country’s upcoming SSN AUKUS nuclear submarines will also not be fitted with the design.

Additionally, the Collins vessels will not be equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles due to related viability and budget issues it would cause the LOTE program.

However, the weapons will still be integrated into the US-made Virginia submarines, the Hobart-class destroyers, and potentially the future Hunter-class frigates.

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