Page 16 - Australian Defence Magazine Dec 2018 - Jan 2019
P. 16

Concerns about submarine capability gap
keeping them in service until the addi- tional life provided by the LOTE expires, which would see Australia with nine sub- marines from around 2036 (at best).
A number of the SIA conference present- ers provided an insight into technologies (both available and emerging) which are contenders for inclusion in the design of the Future Submarine. It would be prudent to consider some of these technologies as can- didates for inclusion in a Collins LOTE, particularly in areas of current or impend- ing obsolescence. Such an initiative would serve to increase the capability edge of the Collins and reduce the risk for integration into the Future Submarines systems.
With an election looming and the impor- tance of submarines to Australia’s national security, the SIA has and will continue to make representation such that there must be no gap in submarine capability as Austra- lia moves from the Collins class submarines to the Future Submarines – and beyond.
BOTH the Federal Government and the Opposition are indicating they have posi- tive intentions when it comes to preserving and enhancing Australia’s submarine capa- bility. Despite this, people who attended the recent 9th Biennial Submarine Insti- tute of Australia (SIA) Conference 2018 left with a view that many in the submarine community are concerned Australia is fac- ing a possible submarine capability gap dur- ing the transition from the Collins class submarines to the Future Submarines.
The SIA recognises the tenuous nature of linking the delay in concluding the Future Submarines Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA) with the current lack of clarity on the options to be pursued by the Government for the Life-of-Type Extensions (LOTE) for the Collins class submarine. Nevertheless, concern does exist on this issue, with the
uncertainty compounded by the changing international geopolitical environment. The Chinese militarisation of small coral reefs and cays in the South China Sea, whose ownership is disputed by other neighbour- ing countries, should be noted.
As stated by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (both at the conference and in a specific study and commentary on the issue), the principal LOTE options presented at the conference for the Collins submarines are:
• Preserving the current quantity of capa- bility (i.e. a fleet of six submarines) until the seventh Future Submarine is deliv- ered in around 2044, which would mean three Collins class submarines would need to undergo a 10-year LOTE; and
• Increase Australia’s submarine capability by putting all six through a LOTE and
More than just the platform. Navantia Australia provides tailored
Through Life Support solutions and integrated sustainment Your Partner at Sea services that help keep Australia’s naval fleet at sea.
16 | December 2018 – January 2019 |

   14   15   16   17   18