On 25 February the Australian government released its latest defense white paper and long-range investment plan, which placed a high priority on naval expansion and acquisition programs that facilitate submarine and antisubmarine operations far from home waters for extended periods. The documents confirm plans to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s 6 Collins-class submarines (including HMAS Farncomb, pictured here) with a force of 12 “regionally superior” boats. The new submarines will have a high degree of interoperability with U.S. assets and are expected to begin entering service in the early 2030s. Submarine production will likely stretch over two decades so that the final unit is not expected to enter service until around 2050. Nine antisubmarine warfare–focused frigates are to begin joining the fleet in the late 2020s to replace the eight Anzac-class frigates. Orders for new P-8A Poseidon long-range maritime-patrol aircraft have been increased from 8 to 15 aircraft, with all now due in Australian service by the late 2020s.
By Eric Wertheim