the salty bill of submarines

Workers of the French naval group work on a submarine, at Cherbourg-Octeville, in the English Channel, on December 14, 2016.

During a parliamentary hearing on the 2022-2023 budget, Australian taxpayers discovered Friday 1er April, how much would the termination of the contract with the French industrialist Naval Group for the purchase of twelve diesel-electric submarines cost them: 3.7 billion euros. Certainly a small thing compared to the amount they will have to pay to buy British or American nuclear submarines, estimated at 80 to 115 billion euros, according to a study published in December 2021 by the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy (ASPI). †

“We knew that by choosing nuclear-powered submarines over the initially planned diesel-electric submarines, the consequences would be significant. But we were ready to make tough decisions.”defended himself, Friday 1er April, Chancellor of the Exchequer Simon Birmingham. In early March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the Canberra, Washington and London (Aukus) tripartite agreement, announced in September 2021, as the “the most important defense partnership since the Anzus [le traité de sécurité signé en 1951 par l’Australie, la Nouvelle-Zélande et les Etats-Unis après la seconde guerre mondiale]at a time when the island continent “represents the toughest and most dangerous security environment in 80 years”† In the crosshairs of the head of government: China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific region.

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This figure of 3.7 billion, which is only an estimate as negotiations with Naval Group are still ongoing, will cover all costs incurred by Canberra since the signing of the agreement. “deal of the century”, in 2016: the costs of the French industrialist, that of the American Lockheed Martin, who would supply the Barracuda combat system, that of the subcontractors, not to mention the costs associated with the construction of the shipyard in Australia-South . Naval Group, which lost about 10% of its turnover (about 4 billion euros) with this contract, will only receive a part of this amount.

“It’s a terrible waste, but conventionally powered submarines no longer made sense given our changing strategic environment. China is much more aggressive and has a much larger projection capacity than we expected in 2016.”, assures Michael Shoebridge, ASPI’s defense program director. Two new elements have reinforced this observation in recent months.

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