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Australia decides against arming Collins-class SSKs with Tomahawk missiles

Australia's Collins-class SSKs, four of which are seen here in formation while transiting through Cockburn Sound, will not be armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles as considered earlier. (Australian Department of Defence)

Australia will not equip its fleet of Collins-class diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) with the Tomahawk cruise missile, the country's Department of Defence (DoD) disclosed in a statement on 5 June.

The statement was issued to announce that HMAS Farncomb will be the first of the country's six Collins-class SSKs to undergo capability upgrades under a planned life-of-type-extension (LOTE) programme for the submarines.

This decision to not proceed with the addition of Tomahawk missiles on the SSKs was taken after consulting with the US, and the government has received advice that the addition of these weapons “is not viable and does not represent value for money”, said the department.

In addition to this, a planned optronic upgrade for the class, which was announced by the former coalition government, will also not proceed following advice that it would add complexity and risk to the Collins-class LOTE programme.

The future SSN-AUKUS nuclear-powered conventionally armed submarines will likewise not be fitted with this particular design for their optronic systems, the department added.

“The Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines Australia will receive in the early 2030s will come with the Tomahawk as standard equipment,” said the DoD.

“Tomahawk cruise missiles will also be used by [the] navy's Hobart-class destroyers, and the government has agreed in principle to fit the Hunter-class frigates with Tomahawks, subject to a feasibility study”.

“These decisions will reduce risk for the Collins-class programme and will help maximise Collins-class availability as we transition to our future nuclear-powered submarine capability,” the DoD added.

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