White House senior coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region Kurt Campbell is confident that Australia, Britain and the United States will be able to cope with the problem of creating a nuclear submarine force for Australia. Speaking on Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he said that after 18 months of intensive study and discussion, “we have the necessary understanding” of what needs to be done to build and maintain submarines, and to explore technology transfer between the three allies. That is, a year and a half and millions of dollars spent on understanding something, what exactly is not yet clear.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said conversations between the three countries’ navies over the past 18 months have been frank in assessing risk, seeing how the deal is progressing and where it is not progressing as fast as expected.
We do not underestimate the difficulties that may lie ahead.
It’s not something that happens overnight.
Asked where the two submarines that the United States says it will provide to Australia for an interim period will come from, Gilday said:
It’s too early to give you an answer. We hope to have two [Virginia-class] submarines built each year.
Campbell found the number of submarines in drydock awaiting lengthy repairs to be alarming, referring to Los Angeles-class submarines such as the USS Boise (SSN-764) that have been waiting for years to be repaired due to delays in public and private shipyards.
That is, neither the fleet commander nor the political curator of this direction knows when and where MAPLs will come from to carry out this program. Theoretically, it is possible to transfer to Australia, a couple of “not completely stubborn” “moose”, but given the situation with ship repair in the United States, this is hardly probable. And will the Australians agree to very heavily used ear boats, because initially, it was about the new “Virginias”.
With regard to the second leg of the AUKUS agreement, technology transfer, Gilday and Campbell saw great potential for collaboration with other close allies in the areas of artificial intelligence, anti-submarine defense and unmanned systems.
The key point will be the question “what do you have on the table” when countries like France and New Zealand indicate they want to explore technology exchange with the United States, as well as with the United Kingdom and Australia.
That is, for the time being, there is nothing more than a set of good intentions. And this is taking into account the fact that a scandal is also flaring up in Australia with Hunter-class frigates.
Conversations on the subject of AUKUS continue, but the optimism among the participants has diminished.