The first generation of AUKUS nuclear submarines will be built in the UK and Australia, based on the UK’s submarine design.
On March 13, 2023, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom, and President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States announced an arrangement for Australia to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSN) through the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) enhanced security partnership.
Australia’s future SSN (“SSN-AUKUS”) will incorporate U.S. submarine technologies, and will be built and deployed by both Australia and the United Kingdom.
The program is forecast to cost around $300 billion between now and the mid-2050s, most of it beyond the first four-year budget period.
The United Kingdom intends to deliver its first SSN-AUKUS to the UK Royal Navy in the late 2030s. Australia plans to deliver the first Australian-built SSN-AUKUS to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2040s.
The UK’s SSN-AUKUS submarines will be built by BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. Once they are operational, the UK’s new SSN-AUKUS submarines will replace the Royal Navy’s current Astute-Class submarines.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said under the first phase of the Optimal Pathway, the U.S. and the UK will immediately increase port visits of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines in Australia. As early as in 2027, the U.S. will begin rotating through Australia under “Submarine Rotational Force-West.”
In the next phase, the U.S. intends to sell three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. Finally, Australia and the UK will develop and deploy SSN-AUKUS incorporating critical U.S. technologies, Austin said.