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UK and Australian defence deal agreed as BAE wins nuclear submarine contract

21st March 2024 - 23:35 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


BAE Systems was awarded a US$5.1 billion contract last year by the UK Ministry of Defence to delivery the next phase of the SSN-AUKUS programme. (Image: BAE Systems)

Deal signed in Canberra will see Australia and the UK bolster their defence partnership via operational agreements, security consultancy and further deals for their primary defence firms.

Australia and the UK have signed a new defence and security cooperation agreement as BAE Systems was awarded a contract to build Australia’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

The two countries have put in place a status of forces agreement which will make it easier for their respective forces to operate together within each other’s borders, while further agreeing to consult on issues affecting sovereignty and regional security.

The announcement which updated an outstanding partnership was signed by the Australian deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and UK secretary of state for defence Grant Shapps in Canberra. It was made on the same day that BAE Systems confirmed it had been selected by the Australian government to build the country’s new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines alongside ASC Pty Ltd.

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Among the initiatives agreed between the two countries were the UK’s contribution to the Combined Intelligence Centre – Australia, within the Defence Intelligence Organisation, and a commitment to develop a joint climate action plan by the time of the Australia-UK Ministerial consultations (AUKMIN) 2025 meeting.

Continued cooperation on capability development – including through the trilateral AUKUS pact between Australia, the UK and the US signed in 2021 – as well as the establishment of elevated joint staff talks were also agreed, along with plans to increase collaboration on undersea warfare, autonomous sea mine clearance, science and technology.

The UK’s will contribute to the Talisman Sabre, Pitch Black and Predators Run exercises, while Australia will provide support for the UK’s Littoral Response Group-South and participate in a carrier strike group visit to the Indo-Pacific in 2025.

Marles remarked: “As the world becomes more complex and uncertain, we must modernise our most important partnerships. The agreements we reached today will secure this outcome into the future.”

BAE Systems and ASC Pty Ltd, meanwhile, have been awarded a contract to help build the next generation of Australia’s nuclear submarines. The contract formed part of the AUKUS pact and will see Australia attempt to deliver its first SSN-AUKUS submarine in the early 2040s.

BAE has claimed that the SSN-AUKUS will be the largest and most advanced attack submarines the UK Royal Navy has operated when the boats replace the Astute-class from the late 2030s.

BAE Systems was awarded almost £4 billion (US$5.1 billion) by the UK Ministry of Defence for the next phase of the SSN-AUKUS programme in October 2023 which will fund development work through to 2028.

BAE chief executive Charles Woodburn remarked: “Our selection as a partner in Australia, alongside ASC, recognises our role as the UK’s long-term submarine design and build partner and as a key player in Australia’s maritime enterprise and wider defence landscape.

“This latest step will ensure an integral connection between the UK design and the build strategy development in Australia as we work together to deliver next generation military capability,” he added.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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