Robert Bond Director Citizens for Defence
CITIZENS FOR DEFENCE
Nuclear subs the only defence
ASPI is hosting an international conference on Submarine Choice to help determine the next submarine Australia buys. This is the latest agonising self examination of a problem that should have been decided in 2009.
If our politicians had any concern for Australian security they would have ordered Virginia-class nuclear powered submarines from the US then and we would be very close to having some in operation in the next few years.
But nothing in Australia is as it seems in the self defence arena. We are a twisted nation that writhes between brave ANZAC tradition displayed a century ago and a despicable self serving attitude at present that treats our sole long standing ally, the US, as an eternal milking cow able to sustain and protect our freeloading exploitation without any compunction or embarrassment on our part.
Even this ASPI conference has been hijacked by the warped Australian psyche. Mark Thomson is senior analyst for defence economics at ASPI and in today’s ASPI blog advises that the conference is constrained by three parameters which are “Collins class must be replaced when it reaches its life-of-type. Second, the replacement boats must be built in South Australia. Third, the new boats must have conventional (ie non-nuclear) propulsion”.
These are ludicrous restraints to put on the acquisition of a critical underwater defence platform. To limit our choice to what ancient technology can be built in South Australia when there is a world market available with state of the art weapons systems is just crass contempt for the security of this nation, and to rule out the most lethal submarine in the world at present, the Virginia class nuclear submarine, is like going to a bull sale and buying a bull without testicles.
These perverse decisions have been brought in by the two major parties purely for political reasons and show an amazing lack of concern for the acquisition of the most effective high technology weapons to defend our shoreline.
ASPI does much good work and is a great source of information and opinion but when it comes to matters of government policy ASPI has to toe the government of the day line or risk losing essential government funding. Former Prime Minister John Howard no doubt had the best of intentions when he set ASPI up and it is a crying shame to see how the present government has wantonly hijacked Howard’s agenda for its own short term political advantage.
The Australian Defence White Paper Committee is chaired by the executive director of ASPI, Peter Jennings and senior ASPI analyst Andrew Davies is on the committee. The DWP will be a perverted document before it is written even though this document has the heavy responsibility of choosing the next Australian submarine.
The Virginia-class nuclear powered submarine is the cheapest and most advanced submarine in the world at present as judged on quantity and quality of effective firepower, speed, endurance, stealth, sensors, size, littoral capabilities, spying and quality of build by a nation that has been building excellent nuclear submarines for fifty years without any major problems.
One Virginia submarine is as effective as any 3 diesel electric, or AIP submarines Australia may be able to assemble. This means we acquire $6 billion more effectiveness per nuclear submarine than we could achieve with one future submarine.
We have been hounded for a decade about the uselessness of the Collins-class submarines with endless DWPs and discussions about a replacement submarine. We have wasted ten years with indecision and freeloading policies on the US. A decisive government could have placed orders for Virginia submarines a decade ago and today we could have already commissioned our first couple of nuclear submarines to patrol our vast oceans.
Surely for once Australia can make a timely rational decision to buy the cheapest and most effective attack submarine in the world which is the Virginia-class nuclear submarine.