12 new submarines hardly compares to what other regional powers have.
Victoria Craw, News Australia
16 December 2016
Australia is spending $50 billion over 30 years on 12 new submarines to upgrade our ageing fleet.
The move has been described as critical to make the country “regionally superior” in terms of its maritime ability and signal to President-elect Donald Trump Australia is no “strategic bludger” when it comes to Defence commitments.
But how do we stack up when it comes to other countries and their military hardware?
Not very well, according to this list compiled by Global Firepower.
It ranks Australia 17th when it comes to the list of submarines by country.
The US is number one with 75, while North Korea reportedly has 70. China is thought to have 68 while Russia has 60 and Iran has 33.
Japan is thought to have 17 while South Korea has 15.
India has 14, Turkey 13 and 11 each for Greece and Colombia, with 10 each for France and the UK.
At present, Australia has six of the Collins Class submarine. The new additions will come over 30 years and it’s not known what the total number will be in service at any given point in future. Countries usually work on a ratio of 4- or 5-to-1 in terms of submarines that are able to be active versus those that are out of the water for maintenance or modification.
Australia currently has six, with 12 more on the way.
The new Australian designs will come from French company DCNS, with a $1.5 billion weapons system from Lockheed Martin. They will be built in Adelaide at shipyard facility that will be upgraded to resemble the military-style headquarters of DCNS in Cherbourg, France.
The Australian Defence Force argues submarines are critical for a country like Australia with a vast coastline and strategic interests in preserving the “rules-based international order” in the region.
Ninety-nine per cent of Australian exports are by sea and maintaining clear passage is an economic necessity for the country.
This week, Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne visited DCNS in France and spoke about the close relationship between the two countries.
He said he was “not concerned” about the “industrial espionage” that saw a subcontractor steal 22000 files relating to an Indian submarine design and leak them to a staffer of Nick Xenophon because they related to a different class of submarine.
He also said the new design would be the “most potent weapon” in Australia’s armaments.
“We have a wealthy country and as a consequence we have a responsibility to do our part, as Donald Trump says, not be strategic bludgers but actually lift our percentage of spending to two per cent, which we’ll do by 2020/21,” he said.