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First Sea Lord touts AUKUS sharing potential

The recent joint submarine-building plan proposed under the new Australia, United Kingdom, and United States (AUKUS) security partnership offers more benefits for sharing of intelligence and other information, according to UK Royal Navy's (RN's) First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Ben Key.

“AUKUS, to my mind, is a really good example of opening up,” Adm Sir Key said on 16 February during a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) International Security Program event on the future of the RN.

“A lot has been talked around the AUKUS about the shift in thinking of the Royal Australian Submarine force's move from being just a conventionally powered force to embracing nuclear propulsion and the opportunities that opens up,” he said.

“But actually, AUKUS is about reducing the barriers to sharing information amongst like-minded people,” he noted.

The navies face underwater battlespace challenges and, through the agreement, Australia will be able to share its understanding of its waters with the UK, the US, and other allies and partners, he added.

At the same time the US will have the obligation to support the Australian navy as it develops its own capabilities to introduce nuclear submarines to its force, according to Adm Sir Key.

“AUKUS, at its heart, is not about nuclear subs around the Australian continent,” he said. “At its heart, its about how we create opportunities to better share intelligence and understanding and information.”

If the AUKUS agreement was focused mostly on the development of the submarines, systems, and integration, it would take “an awful lot of time”, he said.

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