Australia’s Defence Force Chief has found no urgent security need to build submarines in the country. Amid the ongoing push for Adelaide to produce Australia’s next fleet of submarines, defence chief Mark Binskin believes there was no need to build the subs in Australia since he wants to ensure the fleet will get the “capability” suitable for defence.
Air Marshal Mark Binskin said the future submarines don’t have to be built to sustain Australia. He added that the life-long maintenance of the submarines is preferably done locally rather than the actual manufacturing process. Binskin believes the demand for building the submarines domestically may be driven by an “emotive argument.”
The defence chief said Australia could still do the more important job of submarine fleet up keep. He added that Australia could integrate the systems like sensors into the country’s current boats and testing them locally. Binskin explained that two-thirds of the submarine costs would be throughout the life of the fleet’s sustainment, reports SMH.
He said in a press conference that the Australian defence force does not need submarines built domestically since having them made overseas does not mean a loss of jobs for the country. Binksin urged the government to work quickly to get the submarine project going. The defence chief added that Australia might be left with too few submarines or none at all as the Collins Class submarines will soon be retired.
The submarine project is Australia’s biggest in history with cost estimated between $20 billion to $30 billion. In the election campaign in 2013, the Coalition’s defence spokesperson vowed to have 12 new submarines built in Adelaide by local company ASC, according to an ABC report. However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott had struck a deal with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014 to purchase the nation’s Soryu class submarines.
The Abbott government is now dealing with the conflicting agreements. The problem was escalated when the submarine project was used to appease politicians. South Australian senator Sean Edwards had secured a promise from Mr Abbott that ASC will participate in a “competitive open tender” which will give the local company a chance to make a bid for the project.
Meanwhile, SkyNews reports that Japan has signaled its intention to sell submarines to Australia to be partially built in Adelaide. Japan is willing to partner with ASC since it has previously expressed it does not want a competitive evaluation process in which it will compete with other European companies. Under any future deal, ASC would likely partner with overseas manufacturers.