With the Defence, DMO and RAN management in a mess, we will be lucky to have any replacement for our 5 defective Collins boats (the 6th one being a source of parts).
Because Defence gave up our long range F-111 strike capability on a lie, that is it. We have none. Those thinking of using a submarine as some kind of long range punitive strike weapon are off their rocker. Note the mention of cruise missile capable subs in the above linked article. Only an aircraft gives you the ability to hit numerous targets: per day. A submarine is not a replacement for this ability. It can only be value-added.
Considering the past dumbassery from the certain think-tanks that our government officials listen to we might be seeing some hope. There is noise from those circles that the moronic 2009 Defence White Paper may be faulty; that building 12 subs at home to replace the Collins nightmare might be unworkable. Good on them. A small hint of progress.
There is other noise of nuclear subs as one option. This political climate makes that idea impossible.
Which leaves us with few options. Those few are as follows:
A German 214 class. It is powerful with knowns. It is doubtful that even the DMO could ruin this idea. The advantages are to get some consistency into the submarine workforce. A handful of these boats would have predictable mission and repair schedules. And, it has killing power to aid in securing our Northern approaches. Notice I said “aid”. You need air power so that your own anti-submarine aircraft can do their work unmolested. Add some 214s at choke points an now you have a workable defence plan. Air domination is linked to submarine capability. Unless you enjoy the idea of enemy anti-submarine aircraft fishing for your subs.
Once the RAN is stable (workforce/logistics/readiness consistency) with that, you can press ahead with other specialist subs. If one wants something more they should look no further than the Spanish effort known as the S-80.
The submarines of the S-80 class are designed to better complete their mission in threat scenarios. Their operational mobility will allow them to operate in remote areas, traveling discreetly at high speeds. Their air independent propulsion (AIP) system will ensure their ability to remain long periods of time in an area without being detected and their ability to operate in possible conflict zones.
Their capabilities include:
* A combat system for multiple target acquisition in different scenarios
* The ability to transport personnel, including special operations forces
* Low noise and magnetic signatures in order to minimize detection
* Low radar and infrared signatures in order to minimize detection
Risk alert. The production of this boat is not complete. However that beats the other loony ideas floated by some. And it even knocks down those that claim only a Collins-like ability will work for Australia. This last one of course used as a club by the rent-seekers when lobbying government.
Some advisors to our government are fixated on the unobtainable and unrealistic. This disease has to be broken. Or, we can just continue the laughing stock which is synonymous with the words “submarine” and “Defence” in the Australian public mind.