11 June 2021
by Julian Kerr
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed that all six of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) Collins-class submarines will undergo major life-of-type extensions (LOTEs) to avoid a capability gap prior to the anticipated entry into service of the first of 12 Attack-class replacements in the mid-2030s.
Speaking to the national newspaper The Australian on 10 June, Dutton, who was appointed to the defence portfolio in March, said Australia had to be realistic about what lay ahead by way of threat in its own region.
“The submarine capacity is a significant part of how we mitigate that risk and it's important that we get the programme right,” he said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we need to pursue a life-of-type extension [for the Collins-class] and we are working on that programme now. All six would be on the schedule,” added the minister.
RAN Collins-class submarines HMAS Collins , HMAS Farncomb , HMAS Dechaineux, and HMAS Sheean in formation while transiting through Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, in February 2019. All six of the RAN's Collins-class boats will undergo major life-of-type extensions. (Commonwealth of Australia)
Dutton's comments preceded a meeting set to be held in France between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and French President Emmanuel Macron in which concerns over progress on the AUD90 billion (USD69.8 billion) Attack-class programme by French shipbuilder Naval Group will be raised.
The programme has been beset by delays, cost issues, and disputes over the level of Australian industry content. Detailed construction of the first of the diesel-electric Attack-class boats at Osborne near Adelaide is scheduled to begin in 2025/26 with entry to service expected about 2035.
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Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed that all six of the Royal Australian Navy's (...