Therefore, taking up the US offer, as explained in 2012 by Ross Babbage,is increasingly a necessity we cannot afford to ignore:
Option five is to buy or lease Virginia-class submarines from the US. The Virginias are fast and have almost unlimited endurance. They carry sensors with extraordinary performance such that they can routinely see
potential opponents well before they themselves can be detected, often at trans-oceanic distances.
They have also been designed from scratch to be very flexible and perform a broader range of functions that would deliver Australia strong deterrence power even against a major power.
The Virginia class is in series production, hence the project risks are low. The contract for the 14th Virginia has been signed for a price of $1.2bn, but by the time they are fully fitted out, the sail-away price is $2.5bn. These boats are demonstrating exceptional operational performance and high reliability and would provide class-wide training and upgrade programs. Operating RAN and USN Virginias in close partnership would also take the ANZUS alliance to a new level.
The most obvious obstacle to an Australian purchase of Virginias is that these boats are nuclear-powered. However, their propulsion systems have an exemplary track record, their reactors never need to be refuelled and if the boats were leased, say, for 30 years, they could be handed back to the suppliers for disposal.
We'll be sunk if we don't choose the best submarine
- ROSS BABBAGE
- The Australian
- January 17, 2012 12:00AM
THE powerful national security committee of cabinet is scheduled to meet in the next few weeks to select a plan for Australia's largest defence purchase, a new class of submarines.