China and other risks lurking beneath the Aukus deal

It’s a multi-decade, multibillion-dollar, multinational submarine deal. But deeper questions remain, including whether the subs will really help to deter China from its strategic challenge to the US-led order in Asia.

(From left) Australian PM Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden and British PM Rishi Sunak at the Aukus summit in California on March 13. PHOTO: AFP
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Eighteen months ago, when Aukus first saw the light of day, it was hailed as the grandest of strategic masterstrokes – an audacious vision for America, Britain and Australia to work together to equip the Australian navy with nuclear-powered attack submarines. Now, with this week’s announcement by the three countries’ leaders of the outline of a plan to make it all happen, the vision looks even bigger and bolder.

In just a few years, America and Britain will begin to rotationally deploy up to five of their nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) to Perth. In 10 years, America will begin to transfer up to five of its Virginia-class SSNs to Australia, and in the meantime Australia and Britain will collaborate with America to design a new class of submarine – the SSN (Aukus) – which will be built in both Australia and Britain for their respective navies.

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