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BAE Systems to partner with Australia's ASC for AUKUS submarines

BAE Systems was confirmed as the UK shipbuilding partner for AUKUS submarines, shown here as an artist rendition. (BAE Systems)

Britian's BAE Systems will partner with Australian shipbuilder ASC to build Canberra's nuclear-powered submarines for the trilateral AUKUS defence agreement, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed on 21 March.

The partnership deal follows “months of negotiations” and could be worth “billions of pounds”, theMoD said in a release.

First announced in September 2021, AUKUS calls for the three countries – Australia, the UK, and the US – to work together on a range of capabilities, including a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability for Australia, the ministry release noted.

Phase Two of AUKUS involves the sale of three US Virginia-class submarines to Australia with an option for up to two more, subject to US Congressional approval. Phase Three is the construction of the trilateral nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) for AUKUS.

The first UK submarines built to this design will be delivered in the late 2030s to replace the current Astute-class vessels, and the first Australian submarines will follow in the early 2040s.

While officials in the UK and Australia have been touting the boost to the industrial base promised by AUKUS – especially with the confirmation of the partnership between BAE Systems and ASC Pty – US officials have been ringing alarms that the country's submarine-building workforce is failing to meet US needs and warns of continuing struggles to meet submarine capacity shortfalls that could result from meeting the AUKUS commitment.

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