Robert Bond Director Citizens for Defence
CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE
Major parties are clueless on subs
The two major parties should be brought to account for their total abandonment of any attempt to equip the Australian navy with the most capable submarine to defend our 36,000 kilometre coastline for the next 40 years.
Never do the two major parties take into account the Future Submarines lack of effectiveness, speed, endurance, performance, and firepower, or consider that there is probably a billion dollars cost saving per submarine if a US Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine were purchased.
Instead, all we hear from the blinkered politicians is a jingoistic appeal to some nationalistic theme that says survival of our nation comes second to partisan politics.
There are at least 6 Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines in operation with the US navy at present and all their state of the art systems are operating flawlessly. Buying a proven line of submarines from a nation that has had a near flawless record for fifty years in building nuclear submarines goes a long way to reduce the risk of acquiring a poor performing weapons platform.
On the other hand it seems a formidably risky enterprise for Australia to design and build from scratch a dieselectric submarine anywhere near the size and competence of the Virginia-class.
General Dynamics have been building the Virginia-class submarines with delivery well before the ten year delivery date and under budget.
An Australian designed and built large submarine can expect to be delivered to the navy in 20-25 years time.
Ten well managed Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines would be as effective as 30 unreliable one off Australian designed and built dieselectric submarines. The Collins fiasco is an example of what will probably be the eventuality if Australia decides to go it alone down the Collins path again. In fact, the world has moved on since Collins was built and the technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that a bad outcome is almost guaranteed.
If the government and the deceased opposition had any gumption whatsoever on defence matters they would have ordered ten Virginia submarines in 2009 when it first became obvious that the Collins submarines were unable to defend our shores.
Today, we would be looking to take delivery of probably the best attack submarines in the world from 2017. Instead, we are being spun yarns by the major parties that we will get some antiquated diesel dinosaur sub delivered in 1935 with unknown specifications and a price tag double the ball park estimate of $36 billion in 2009 dollars.
There is no second choice. Governments refuse to take their responsibility to defend this nation seriously. They delay and muddy the waters. They withdraw funding from defence and refuse to fund new weapons. They employ an army of spin doctors to hoodwink the Australian public into believing they have an effective plan for our defence.
Our politicians have not even had a realistic trial of 5 Collins subs against a nuclear submarine to access their strengths and weaknesses. They are spending two full years funding of the defence budget without even evaluating a nuclear submarine.
Our nation has more oceans and seas surrounding it than any other continent on earth and yet our inept politicians have selected a sub that cannot travel more than 60 to 100 kilometres at full speed submerged and have rejected outright a submarine that can sail around the world submerged.
Brazil is building a nuclear submarine which includes the reactor with help from the French. The British have the new Astute-Class nuclear submarine, and the US ambassador to Australia has said that the US would supply Virginia subs to Australia to improve our defence forces.
Surely our paralysed politicians could start to consider the defence of this nation by approaching these nations for a joint venture arrangement where we can acquire modern submarines.
Australia’s cringe factor seems to permeate all politicians and their defence advisors, the electorate who vote them in and some of the top brass of the defence forces resulting in our leaders always choosing that we remain defenceless and buy yesterdays technology to fight tomorrow’s wars.