Australian Nuclear Sub Deal Will Help Deter China in the Indo-Pacific Region
France is understandably miffed that Australia decided to upgrade its navy with nuclear subs in partnership with the United States and the UK. They thought they had a deal with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for France to deliver 12 non-nuclear submarines. Instead, the new US-UK-Australia deal lays the groundwork for Australia to purchase at least eight nuclear submarines with support and training from the US and the UK. The deal also includes a tripartite security agreement which they call AUKUS.
While French President Emmanuel Macron's anger is understandable, nuclear powered subs make more sense in countering China's rising capabilities in the region, which John Blaxland, a professor at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University explained this week in a piece he wrote for the Conversation.
Blaxland: "The benefit of nuclear submarines is you don’t have to snorkel: they allow you to stay submerged and be stealthier for longer. The conventionally powered (diesel/electric) submarine does not have the same range without exposing itself to detection by surfacing."
"This potentially will transform the ability of the Australian Defence Force to operate at range around Australia and beyond, and operate more closely in an integrated way with the US and UK." ...
... "It’s fair to say there is growing consensus we need to do more to deter Chinese actions in the region. Deterrence requires credible capabilities. This new alliance is consistent with that line of reasoning."
And Barry Pavel, the senior vice president and director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council goes further to explain how this will help deter China in the Pacific region.
Pavel, Atlantic Council: ... "It will have particularly constructive operational military implications, strengthening the ability of the United States-led alliances to deter Chinese military coercion even as Chinese capabilities continue to develop rapidly. Undersea capabilities are critical for preventing the Chinese military from achieving its operational objectives in the most important likely contingencies in the region. A key parameter of this new trilateral alliance will include US submarine access to Australian support infrastructure, thereby strengthening the overall US and allied increasingly “latticed” global defense posture (more of which will emerge after the National Defense Strategy review is completed). In addition, this initiative will also further strengthen the already close defense industrial cooperation among the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom on some of the key technologies that will be of highest importance for future military effectiveness, including artificial intelligence, cyber, and long-range precision strike capabilities."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the right long-term strategic decision, even though he handled the negotiations with France quite poorly. China is moving rapidly to gain supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region and this deal is an important step to deter Chinese aggression.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content