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Australia may lease submarines as it awaits delivery of nuclear-powered boats

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) may be operating leased submarines while it awaits the delivery of its new nuclear-powered boats.

The matter was confirmed by Australia's Minister for Defence Peter Dutton in an interview with Sky News, the transcript for which was released by the defence ministry on 20 September.

Leaders of the US, the UK, and Australia announced the establishment of a new security partnership on 15 September known as AUKUS. The first initiative under the partnership will be to collaborate on developing a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for the RAN.

Australia operates a fleet of six Collins-class diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) that were commissioned between the late-1990s and early-2000s.

Given the age of the boats, there are concerns that the RAN might face a capability gap from the time the Collins-class SSKs are no longer operational till the nuclear-powered boats come into service in the late-2030s.

According to Dutton, discussions on whether Australia would lease submarines as an interim measure will be held as part of talks with the US and the UK over the next 12–18 months.

β€œThe US has also got a very significant programme of development underway in their nuclear submarine programme, as do the Brits and, frankly, as do the French and others,” said Dutton, hinting that should Australia decide to lease submarines, it may not necessarily be from just either the US or the UK.

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