Australian, UK and US partnership
On 16 September 2021, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States of America, announced an enhanced trilateral security partnership between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS).
AUKUS is a momentous partnership in Australia's history that will significantly deepen our three countries' cooperation on a range of security and defence capabilities for decades to come.
This partnership is pivotal for Australia to become a more capable power in the 21st century, in line with our liberal democratic values, and to deepen our already steadfast defence and security collaborations.
The first major initiative under AUKUS is Australia’s acquisition of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. The Australian Government intends to build these submarines in Adelaide.
This announcement means the Australian Government will no longer be proceeding with the Attack Class Submarine Program.
Australia, the UK and the US have committed to a comprehensive program of work over the next 18 months that will bring this capability into service. The optimal pathway to achieve this is through a significant increase in Australia-UK-US defence collaboration.
This period will be used to examine the full suite of requirements that underpin nuclear stewardship, with a specific focus on safety, design, construction, operation, maintenance, disposal, regulation, training, environmental protection, installations and infrastructure, basing, workforce and force structure.
The Government has established a Nuclear-Powered Submarine Task Force led by VADM Jonathan Mead AO to facilitate Australia’s role in AUKUS.
Nuclear-powered submarines have superior characteristics of stealth, speed, manoeuvrability, survivability, and almost limitless endurance, when compared to conventional submarines. They can deploy unmanned underwater vehicles and can also carry more advanced and a greater number of weapons. These abilities allow nuclear-powered submarines to operate in contested areas with a lower risk of detection.
These advantages mean that the transition to nuclear-powered submarines represents a substantial capability leap for the Royal Australian Navy.
The Government is committed to maximising Australian industry participation in this program. Opportunities for Australian industry participation range from capability design to complex project management, to construction and sustainment activities.