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.

AUKUS will enable our three countries to better collaborate on defence science, research and education, technology, and industrial bases.

AUKUS will also enable collaboration to enhance joint capabilities and interoperability with initial efforts focussing on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional undersea capabilities.

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.

Nuclear-powered submarines

The first major initiative under AUKUS is Australia’s acquisition of at least eight conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines for operation by the Royal Australian Navy. Government intends to build these submarines in Adelaide.

Australia, the UK and the US have commenced an 18 month trilateral effort to identify an optimal pathway to deliver this capability.

This 18 month period is being 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 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.

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.