Saturday, August 21, 2010

Australia's political parties agree on indigenous sub build

The two main parties competing in Australia's general election on 21 August have outlined a commitment to build the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) next-generation submarines in Australia, although they appear at odds over their support for indigenous content.

Australia's programme to acquire 12 Future Submarines is likely to be the country's biggest-ever single defence programme, with an estimated cost of around AUD36 billion (USD32.4 billion). The boats will not enter service before 2025 but the next government will be expected to make a number of key decisions about the level of the Australian defence industry's input into the programme.

A spokesman for Greg Combet, Australia's Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, spoke on 19 August that the ruling centre-left Labor Party has already made a commitment to build the submarines in South Australia, although it has not made a decision to build the boats at state-owned ASC (formerly Australian Submarine Corporation).

The government has previously indicated that, although ASC would be in a strong position to build the submarines, competition is expected from other companies in the South Australian region. The government has also previously indicated its support for foreign submarine designs and technologies.

However, a spokesman for Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston told Jane's that if the centre-right Liberal/National Coalition Party wins the election it will look, as a priority, for the Australian defence industry to play a more significant role in the programme.

"The Coalition is a supporter of the submarines being built in Australia by ASC," the spokesman said. "If we could, we would look for an Australian-designed and -built submarine, but of course we would look at options as well."

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