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Zkpilot
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Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:53 am

There have been several stories circulating Australian newspapers over the past few days suggesting that the ADF/Political parties/government are looking at replacing the DieselElectric Collins submarines with Virgina Class nuclear powered attack subs bought/leased from the US.
Costings have been done that show it would save around $5-10b over their 30 year lives versus a locally manufactured sub both in terms of upfront costs and ongoing costs (no refuelling as such for a nuke boat after all).
Size-wise they are 2-3x larger than a Collins boat.

IMO this would be an excellent option for both the RAN and Australia not too mention it would be very good for the US (per unit costs fall, RAN gets massive capability boost which helps the USN out).
The way I see it:
1) operationally Australia would double or triple boat availability.
2) boats that are deployed are able to cover twice the area in the same time frame effectively doubling capacity in that regard. (Also quieter and less detectable).
3) larger boat have more room for the likes of torpedo stores and cruise missiles giving a massive capability boost.
4) recruitment issues would lessen due to larger boat being much more comfortable for the crew and being nuke boats means full air conditioning/power, stores etc.
5) 4 fold deterrent to the likes of China/Indonesia etc as the subs could be anywhere providing sea power denial.
6) best bang for buck to provide #5.
7) Secondary mission to provide support to other ADF/allies (ie cruise missile deployment in a battlefield environment (ala early days in Afghanistan).
8) independent of support vessels etc
I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons.
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bigjku
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:01 am

Hate to burst your bubble (and I would love to see this) but I have been seeing this rumor for several years around Australia and I just don't see it happening. Too much opposition to anything nuclear and too big of a price tag right up front.

As a US taxpayer I would love to see it happen, would be good for both of us. But again I just don't see it.
 
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Zkpilot
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:11 am

Sure it's been mentioned before, but the issue is coming to a head as a replacement for the Collins is needed to be decided soon. Also there are politicians voicing it which they haven't really before. But yes the nuclear issue is important to Australians but not a deal killer.

As I mentioned in my posts, it has been costed at $5-10b less than developing and manufacturing a local (and less capable sub).
In the past both the UK and US have found ways to support Canada getting nuclear subs. I'd imagine Australia could get a very sharp deal for them. The US also wins because it lowers the overall program costs, keeps the line busy and provides much needed jobs.
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bigjku
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:26 am

Yeah, I am on your side. I hope it happens.

If there is any inking that it is real I would also guess Australia gets a hard sell from the UK for Astute class boats. The real key to making them worth the while will be getting the TLAMs (or whatever follows) that go with the things. It would be a huge capability bump for the RAN.
 
Legs
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:45 am

I will wager actual money, and large sums of it, that the RAN will not be fielding a nuclear anything for the foreseeable future, if ever. There is far, far too much opposition, from the other side of politics nevermind the majority of the public.

The DoD and the Navy are currently focussed, on the Air Warfare Destroyers under SEA 4000. A plan for a Collins Class replacement was laid out by the White Paper for the 2025 time frame, but that has slipped to about 2030, and Collins Class retirement is currently scheduled for about 2025. Whichever boat is chosen under SEA 1000 will more than likely aim to be at least partially constructed in Australia to retain a native shipbuilding capacity.

You make a lot of valid points for the Virginia class boats, but even if the money made perfect sense, it would be governmental suicide.

[Edited 2012-11-12 23:46:46]

[Edited 2012-11-12 23:47:09]
 
connies4ever
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:12 am

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 2):
In the past both the UK and US have found ways to support Canada getting nuclear subs.

But we don't actually have any. There are the 4 Upholder class subs, (diesel-electric) of which 1 is operational, 1 is undergoing trials after refit, 1 is in dry dock, and the 4th may get scrapped after a mid-Atlantic fire. Pieces of junk.

I worked on the nuclear sub program in the 80s, and these were French subs, not American or British. Had some interesting features, and were pretty compact. Couldn't dive very deep (about 650 feet) which wasn't great, but overall a better deal than what we have now, for sure.
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AirRyan
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:09 pm

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 2):
But yes the nuclear issue is important to Australians but not a deal killer.

You would think that if Japan could get over it's aversion to atomic/nuclear energy, than Australian's would have no logical defense in which to oppose it. Either buy into the Virginia's or maybe call Germany for some 212's. However given the vast waters in and around the region of Oz, you would think that if they were going to have submarines at all, than nuclear such subs would be the only logical solution. Either that, or just don't field any.

Here's how non-nuclear submarines make the transition out of shallow waters:
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:11 pm

Quoting legs (Reply 4):
I will wager actual money, and large sums of it, that the RAN will not be fielding a nuclear anything for the foreseeable future, if ever. There is far, far too much opposition, from the other side of politics nevermind the majority of the public.

Why? Look at where Australia is - you need nuke subs. Diesel is fine where the distances are not so great, like the North Sea or Persian Gulf, but to to adequately cover an area as large as Australian territorial waters, plus areas of interest in Asia, gaspers just don't have the legs for it.
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Ozair
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:45 pm

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 7):

Why? Look at where Australia is - you need nuke subs.

The Green movement in Australia has run a very successful campaign against nuclear anything. At the moment given they hold the balance on power in the Senate and are part of a minority government in the lower house, politically the Labor government would struggle to get the acquisition of Nuc boats through.

So irrespective of the fact that a couple of nuclear power stations would benefit not only the base load power issues Australia is facing, reduce greenhouse emissions and nuclear subs are far and away the most cost and combat effective platform, I think legs is right and nothing will happen.

The other big issue you often hear, which I don't put any stock in, is that Australia would need a domestic nuclear industry to run the boats. IMO, given the boats won't need refueling for their projected operational lifespan, any knowledge can be gained by exchange US personnel and Australians being educated by the USN.

Quoting AirRyan (Reply 6):
or maybe call Germany for some 212's.

The Collins is already superior to pretty much every diesel boat currently in operation and is bigger than any off the shelf replacement, having a 1,000 ton greater displacement than the S-80 for instance.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:12 pm

Nuclear is IMO the best option, enriched fuel could last for like 20 years! I used to be anti nuclear but I have grown to be the biggest supporter. In a world with shrinking natural resources, we have to use the best energy source possible. No one is eating uranium or thorium, there is no other conflicting use of this metal. The energy density is just unbeatable.

Not saying that we don't need to advance the technology beyond the current PWRs, if given the chance I think we could take fission energy very far ahead of todays tech level.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:45 pm

It's a shame Australia doesn't want to go ahead and design its own subs, like they did with the Collins, albeit a modified design.

Cost is one thing, the impact on local industry and jobs is another. Australia should, I think, seek to consolidate its high tech and defense industry.
There's still the nuke thing...
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Legs
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:56 pm

Quoting francoflier (Reply 10):
design its own subs, like they did with the Collins

That approach (modifying an already established design to suit) is one of the options on the table for the Collins replacement, and by all reports is the favoured option at this time. The SEA 1000 link in my previous post lays out all the possibilities.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:06 am

In July there was a report that the Defence force was looking at the Japanese Soryu class submarines. Then again, maybe that was just the then new head of DSTO going off to visit his Japanese in-laws again. I thought the diesel electric subs were often quieter than their nuclear counterparts.
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TheCommodore
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:26 am

Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 2):
But yes the nuclear issue is important to Australians but not a deal killer.

Oh, I wouldn't be so sure about that.

Quoting legs (Reply 4):
it would be governmental suicide.

Only another year of the current circus !

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
The Green movement in Australia has run a very successful campaign against nuclear anything. At the moment given they hold the balance on power in the Senate and are part of a minority government in the lower house, politically the Labor government would struggle to get the acquisition of Nuc boats through.

And a good thing too.

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
The other big issue you often hear, which I don't put any stock in, is that Australia would need a domestic nuclear industry to run the boats. IMO, given the boats won't need refueling for their projected operational lifespan, any knowledge can be gained by exchange US personnel and Australians being educated by the USN.

Exactly. We would need to build an entire industry set up around these nuclear pests. Not a practical idea.
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connies4ever
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:37 am

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
The Collins is already superior to pretty much every diesel boat currently in operation and is bigger than any off the shelf replacement, having a 1,000 ton greater displacement than the S-80 for instance.

I believe the problem the RAN has with the Collins is staffing the damn things. My understanding is that basically only 1 is available with a safe crew complement at any given time out of the 6.

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
The Green movement in Australia has run a very successful campaign against nuclear anything. At the moment given they hold the balance on power in the Senate and are part of a minority government in the lower house, politically the Labor government would struggle to get the acquisition of Nuc boats through.

Indeed. Replacing the old research reactor at Lucas Heights outside Canberra took forever. Then of course they bought the Argentinian design, not ours.

Doesn't stop Australia from selling uranium to China and India, mind you. No hypocracy there.
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QFA380
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:37 am

We have a strong aversion to nuclear however the tide seems to be turning, nothing will get done without the support of both major parties. Recently the Mining minister has raised the possibility of nuclear power and the former Defence minister said that nuclear subs should be on the table. Most of the Coalition would be strongly for it if they could share the political fallout with Labor.

The current Defence minister said the other day that there is no way we'll get Virginias though due to the fact everything would have to be done in the states and the government cannot lose the defence industry in South Australia. This is a man though who always puts ancillary issues before operational capability so it isn't at all surprising, hence why he is despised by Defence.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:16 am

Nothing against the aussies, but I don't see the US handing over that advanced of technology.....period.

Come to think of I, I don't believ any US nuke boat has ever been loaned or sold to anybody
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:01 am

Quoting Ozair (Reply 8):
The Collins is already superior to pretty much every diesel boat currently in operation and is bigger than any off the shelf replacement, having a 1,000 ton greater displacement than the S-80 for instance.

Not true the Japanese Sōryū class submarine is bigger than Collins. The Japanese and Australiansrecently signed a technology transfer agreement where Sōryū class technologyt would be used to help with some of the Collins issues.


Quoting TheCommodore (Reply 13):
Exactly. We would need to build an entire industry set up around these nuclear pests. Not a practical idea.

MAintenance could always be done ion the US, so no need for a local nuclear industry, which you already have anyway.

Quoting L-188 (Reply 16):
Come to think of I, I don't believ any US nuke boat has ever been loaned or sold to anybody

Not really correct Collins uses a fair amount of Los Angeles class tech including the combat systems and the first Royal Navy SSN Dreadnought used the machinery and propulsions systems from the Skipjack class SSN.

I don't see why ther Australians couldn't design and build there own nuclear subs, with technology transfer from either the UK or US it should be possible, after all Brazil is currently constructing an SSN so no reason why Australia couldn't.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:14 pm

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 19):
MAintenance could always be done ion the US, so no need for a local nuclear industry, which you already have anyway.

Will never happen, ever.
I doubt any nation, US included, would put themselves in a situation, where they are forced to rely on "outside" 2nd party maintenance.

[Edited 2012-11-14 04:28:20]
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:32 am

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 14):
I believe the problem the RAN has with the Collins is staffing the damn things. My understanding is that basically only 1 is available with a safe crew complement at any given time out of the 6.

The replacement plan is for three tranches of four boats, essentially three block standards. One of the issues Collins has suffered from is each boat being essentially different to the next. This would reduce the overhaul period required and standardize training.

Quoting TheCommodore (Reply 21):
Will never happen, ever.
I doubt any nation, US included, would put themselves in a situation, where they are forced to rely on "outside" 2nd party maintenance.

It is common practice for deeper level overhaul of military equipment to occur in the country of origin. Fighter jet engines are a great example. A large number of nations return their engines to the US or Russia for overhaul not only because it is cheaper but the local labor forces often don't have the technical skills required.

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 19):
Not true the Japanese Sōryū class submarine is bigger than Collins. The Japanese and Australiansrecently signed a technology transfer agreement where Sōryū class technologyt would be used to help with some of the Collins issues.

They are about the same size. The Soryu is longer and wider but incorporates an AIP which takes up a significant amount of internal volume, actually reducing the range of the boat compared to Collins. The Soryu also cannot be exported given Japan's constitution issues so it doesn't fit the off-the-shelf option.

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 19):
I don't see why ther Australians couldn't design and build there own nuclear subs, with technology transfer from either the UK or US it should be possible, after all Brazil is currently constructing an SSN / RKSM), South Korea">SSN so no reason why Australia couldn't.

We probably could as the reactors can be installed almost in a plug and play arrangement. Not sure it would reduce costs compared to an off-the-shelf Virginia purchase though. The attraction of the Virginia's is not only the increased capability but the extra 6-8 billion mooted to be required for a domestic design and build.

Quoting stealthz (Reply 20):
a follow on Collins "MkII" with AIPP would likely be a viable option.

As much as I want an SSN, I agree that a longer and slightly redesigned Collins hull form, with AIP and perhaps 6-8 vertical launch tubes for a LACM, seems the most likely option. The next question is, if or when we build it, would anyone else want to buy it?
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:40 pm

Quoting TheCommodore (Reply 13):
Exactly. We would need to build an entire industry set up around these nuclear pests. Not a practical idea.

The RCN has passed on replacing our SSK's with SSN's for that very reason. The modern diesel-electric submarines currently in production are a lot quieter and cost less to operate.
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:19 pm

Quoting Ozair (Reply 19):
The Soryu also cannot be exported given Japan's constitution issues so it doesn't fit the off-the-shelf option.

It was never in the constitution from what I understand just a ban instigated in the 60's, that ban has now been removed, Japan can and will sell sell weapons to selected countries, I'm pretty sure Australia would be deemed worthy, since they are already sharing technology to help fix Collins issues.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...n/2011/12/27/gIQA6KEFKP_story.html

Also what is the better boat, a Virginia or an Astute?

For that matter does Australia need an SSN the size of either a Virginia or Astute, maybe something smaller with less manpower requirements like the French Barracuda would be more suitable. Virginia has a crew of around 140 men, Barracuda needs only 60, Astute has a crew of 98, Collins 58, it is already strain on the RAN finding enough crew for 6 Colins, lord only knows how they expect to man 12 Collins II's or find the 140 men needed to crew a Virginia.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:01 pm

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 17):
I don't see why ther Australians couldn't design and build there own nuclear subs, with technology transfer from either the UK or US it should be possible, after all Brazil is currently constructing an SSN so no reason why Australia couldn't.

The Uk's experience of developing the Astute might just indicate that developing your own class of latest generation SSN is a very big step. Even with nuclear experience dating back through 3 previous generations of SSN, plus two generations of SSK, the birth of the Astute was long, protracted, painful and expensive. Head over to the civ av forum and "Astute" could tell you a lot about it. At one point the programme was over 50% over budget and more than 50 months late, bear in mind as stated above thats a nation and a shipyard with over 40 years of nuclear experience.
 
bigjku
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:25 pm

Quoting Bongodog1964 (Reply 22):
The Uk's experience of developing the Astute might just indicate that developing your own class of latest generation SSN is a very big step. Even with nuclear experience dating back through 3 previous generations of SSN, plus two generations of SSK, the birth of the Astute was long, protracted, painful and expensive. Head over to the civ av forum and "Astute" could tell you a lot about it. At one point the programme was over 50% over budget and more than 50 months late, bear in mind as stated above thats a nation and a shipyard with over 40 years of nuclear experience.

And I believe by the end of that they ended up paying a good sum of money to Electric Boat to help them sort out some of the problems they were having with the things. They are still very good boats but I would guess the Virginia Class would be far simpler to integrate into the Australian Fleet (you would not have to pay for torpedo integration for example) and are likely to get more spent on them in future development and growth.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:18 pm

Quoting Bongodog1964 (Reply 22):
Even with nuclear experience dating back through 3 previous generations of SSN, plus two generations of SSK, the birth of the Astute was long, protracted, painful and expensive.

From what I understand and I think from reading a post Astuteman wrote the main problem with Astute was the gap between building the last Vanguard and starting the first Astute, a lot of the competence had left the building. This mistake won't be made with the Trident replacement, from what I understand design is already underway and many of the systems used on Astute will follow through.
 
MD-90
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:57 pm

Is anti-nuclear sentiment in Australia greater or lesser than it is in New Zealand?
 
TheCommodore
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:37 am

Quoting MD-90 (Reply 25):
Is anti-nuclear sentiment in Australia greater or lesser than it is in New Zealand?

Some what less in Australia, although there is quite strong anti nuke support from the usual sorts of groups.

[Edited 2012-11-15 17:40:44]
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connies4ever
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:18 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 14):
I believe the problem the RAN has with the Collins is staffing the damn things. My understanding is that basically only 1 is available with a safe crew complement at any given time out of the 6.

My bad: Defense Industry Daily reports that RAN can sometimes have two Collins at sea. But three are currently in dry dock for various "issues". A naval hangar queen. Their long-range plans are for twelve new, Oz-designed and built SSKs. If they're having these kinds of issues with only six, how do they think they can build up a fleet of twelve ? This would imply four at sea, four training, and four in refit, for the most part.

Quoting TheCol (Reply 20):
The RCN has passed on replacing our SSK's with SSN's for that very reason. The modern diesel-electric submarines currently in production are a lot quieter and cost less to operate.


Not the way the RCN operates. We got these Upholder turkeys "for free" - swapping access to our weapons ranges for crap the RN didn't want. I'll wager by the time the three (or four) are finally seaworthy, it will have cost the taxpayer something like $5B. Typical of how the Canadian military works.
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TheCommodore
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:28 pm

Quoting Zkpilot (Thread starter):
There have been several stories circulating Australian newspapers over the past few days suggesting that the ADF/Political parties/government are looking at replacing the DieselElectric Collins submarines with Virgina Class nuclear powered attack subs bought/leased from the US.

Minister has made his decision it seems..... And the right one too IMHO.

"There will always be those who say it cannot be done, those who say just buy submarines from overseas, " Mr Clare said.

"Those who lack the faith in what Australian workers and Australian industry can achieve. I don't have those doubts."

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/new...rines/story-e6freuy9-1226520690173
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GDB
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:43 pm

Quoting L-188 (Reply 16):
Come to think of I, I don't believ any US nuke boat has ever been loaned or sold to anybody

The Royal Navy's very first nuclear sub, HMS Dreadnought, was a UK built boat but with a US supplied reactor.
Subsequent ones had UK developed/built reactors but it was an important first step.
That of course was then, Cold War, a very good relationship between Adm. Rickover and 1st Sea Lord Mountbatten. The supply of Polaris agreement was agreed several years later. Linked in with the forward basing of USN Polaris subs in Scotland.

Now there is an increase in US forces based in Australia happening, you could argue that supplying SSN's to the RAN could be linked into this.

In a similar vein, Japan did want some F-22's, regardless of what they did with their F/X program - to be F-35.
They had the money, the links wih the US and with their worries about China, a perceived need, even for a small force of them.
But the US refused.
Odd, when the objections that stopped a Japanese buy of Raptors would likely not be there for an Israeli one.
Though they've been the ones to give sensitive US military technology to China, not Japan.
 
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:48 pm

Quoting L-188 (Reply 16):

Come to think of I, I don't believ any US nuke boat has ever been loaned or sold to anybody
Quoting GDB (Reply 29):

The Royal Navy's very first nuclear sub, HMS Dreadnought, was a UK built boat but with a US supplied reactor.
Subsequent ones had UK developed/built reactors but it was an important first step.
That of course was then, Cold War, a very good relationship between Adm. Rickover and 1st Sea Lord Mountbatten. The supply of Polaris agreement was agreed several years later. Linked in with the forward basing of USN Polaris subs in Scotland.

All true, but it remains that the USN has never sold a US-built SSN or SSBN or leased a US-built SSN or SSBN to any other power, unlike, say, the Soviets who leased a Charlie I class SSGN to the Indian Navy as well as two Akula II class SSNs.
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MD-90
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:10 am

Quoting GDB (Reply 29):
Odd, when the objections that stopped a Japanese buy of Raptors would likely not be there for an Israeli one.

Hell no. No way should Israel ever get the F-22 until it's been in service for at least 20 years.
 
TheCol
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RE: Oz Considers Buying/leasing Virgina Class Subs

Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:47 am

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 27):
Typical of how the Canadian military works.

No, that's how you're beloved party operates. Now the RCN is stuck with them until their number on the DND priority list comes up. Way to throw the CF under the bus, as usual.
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