ASPI has once again waded into the debate over the Future Submarine opening its latest paper “ Mind the Gap: Getting Serious about Submarines” with the opening lines of “The Defence White Paper of 2009 promised to deliver Force 2030, which had as its centrepiece a force of twelve new highly capable long range submarines. That’s not going to happen. We’re already past the point at which a force of that size and capability can be in place even by the mid 2030s.”
The report outlines the current situation with the Collins class submarines (build, support and associated costs) and the options available to government concluding that “one way or another, Force 2030 will have a submarine fleet that is a compromise on the original vision”. The likely future of the Collins is extrapolated out to examine the likely capability gap that Australia will face in the submarine world.
In response to the report, the Submarine Institute of Australia’s (SIA) Executive Director, Commodore Steve Davies, comments, “Submarines will be the key national defence capability in our very different strategic circumstances in the middle of this century, and it’s vital we get the capability right. A clear understanding of the long-term importance of submarines is vital.”
The SIA strongly believes that Australia cannot afford a capability gap, given our experience in the 1990s when the gap from Oberon to Collins classes left Australia with virtually no submarine capability for a number of years. It was fortunate, however, that Australia’s strategic circumstances were benign at that time. That may not be the case in the 2030s.
The report can be downloaded from the ASPI website.