March 13 is the target date to gather President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Anthony Albanese and Rushi Sunak in person at one of America’s primary naval bases.
SYDNEY — The leaders of the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom are poised to gather next Monday to announce the plan for supplying Australia with nuclear submarines.
While any presidential schedule can shift on a dime, the Financial Times reports that March 13 is the target date to gather President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Anthony Albanese and Rushi Sunak in person for the announcement. It is expected details of the nuclear and shipbuilding technologies that will contribute to Australia’s home-built nuclear attack submarines will be made clear. Breaking Defense has been told they will make the announcement in San Diego.
The March 13 date had been percolating as rumor for several days which is fitting for AUKUS, an agreement that has been surrounded in rumors and political back-and-forth since almost its announcement in September 2021.
The biggest questions to be answered: what the Aussie subs may look like and what, if any, stopgap measure the Lucky Country will have to deal with an possible “sub gap.” There is a growing expectation that it will involve British nuclear reactors paired with US-made boats; there is widespread agreement that Lockheed Martin’s combat system, in use on the majority of American subs, will be featured on the Australian option.
As to the gap: sending two or three Australian manned Virginia-class boats to the region could address the issue, giving Australia time to build the nuclear expertise, a highly skilled shipbuilding workforce with the rare welding and metallurgical knowledge needed to build an advanced submarine, highly secure shipbuilding facilities and boat crews it needs.
Albanese will be coming from India, following the first visit by an Aussie PM since 2017. Rushi Sunak, the British prime minister, will have to rush home to present his first full budget after having first unveiled a major defense spending increase in the US, according to The Sunday Times and other UK papers.
Source: Breaking Defense