Australia’s 12 new Shortfin Barracuda Submarines described as ‘most lethal weapon’ the nation has



AUSTRALIA’S 12 new submarines will be the most “potent weapon” the nation has ever known featuring lethal technology designed to assert the nation’s space in the world. That’s according to Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne who said the addition of 12 Shortfin Barracuda submarines to Australia’s arsenal will reassure President-elect Donald Trump the country is not shirking its military duties by being “strategic bludgers”. 

Mr Pyne’s visit to the sprawling military-style factory was a chance for the Minister to see for himself the kind of facilities that will be built in Adelaide where the submarines will be created over the next 30 years in a $50 billion project. The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A, known as Australia’s Future Submarine, has been described as the “most lethal conventional submarine ever contemplated”. It’s an off-the-shelf design that has been customised to suit Australian requirements and will be fitted with an estimated $1.5 billion weapons system by the world’s largest defence contractor, Lockheed Martin. The 4500 tonne vessel will be 97 metres long and fit 60 crew.

Australian engineers are already working at the secure facility at the start of what will be a 30-year project. Picture: AP Photo/Thibault CamusSource:AP

 It will be conventionally powered unlike its nuclear-powered French equivalent, and has been chosen for its stealth capability, size and jet-propulsion technology. While much of the specific details regarding range, depth and intelligence gathering capacity remain classified, DCNS claims it will have the most powerful sonar ever produced for a conventional submarine.

The Cherbourg factory is fitted with a virtual reality unit for submarine design. Pictured, workers in front of a French Submarine that is the basis for 12 New Australian ones. Picture: AFP/Charly TriballeauSource:AFP
Lockheed Martin will be responsible for adding a US-style weapons system including sensors, radar and navigation with construction due to begin in the next three years. “We need 12 submarines so that we have the most potent weapon in our armaments to replacing the Collins Class submarines,” Mr Pyne said at a visit to the highly secure base of French company DCNS in Cherbourg. “So we’ll go from six submarines to 12 submarines giving us the kind of capacity to project power in our region that is important for a country of our size and our commitment to freedom and to liberty, to a rules-based international order.

 “We are a wealthy country and as a consequence we have a responsibility do our part, to, as Donald Trump says not be strategic bludgers, but actually lift our percentage of spending to 2 per cent, which we’ll do by 2020/21.”

Herve Gillou (R), the president and general director of DCNS and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne. Picture: AFP/Charly TriballeauSource:AFP

The 30-year project requires a huge amount of trust between the French and Australian governments and comes in the wake of embarrassing leaks detailing the specifications on submarines built for the Indian government including range, depth and intelligence capacity. Mr Pyne’s pronouncement of a “regionally superior” submarine also comes amid rising tension in the South China Sea and an increasingly assertive Russia. Plans to upgrade Australia’s fleet were outlined in Australia’s Defence Industry White Paper in February this year including the need for a submarine with greater range that could perform well in warm tropical waters. 

“Existing off-the-shelf submarine designs cannot perform effective operations that comply with these requirements. Even at very slow speed for best fuel consumption they can barely reach pivotal operational areas in the South China Sea and the interface between the Pacific and Indian Oceans and even then can then stay for only a day or two,” it said. “They are of strategic importance to Australia and a critical element in the nation’s maritime security planning, with Australia’s national security and $1.6 trillion economy depend on secure sea lanes. As such, Australia needs the best possible submarine to protect our trade and support our maritime security.”

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