The new nuclear submarine fleet under the AUKUS partnership is expected to cost Australia as much as 171 billion Australian dollars (USD 121.7 billion) and will not be deployed for at least two decades, according to a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
"Since the longer schedule of a continuous build would give the out-turning more time to take effect, the out-turned cost would be between USD 153 billion and USD 171 billion," the report said.
At the same time, the think tank expects the initial cost of the project to be at least 70 billion Australian dollars. However, in reality, it may turn out to be more than twice as expensive, given the need for protective nuclear safety measures, the report said.
"It's highly likely that it will cost substantially more once the cost drivers are more clearly understood. Those include both the US and UK moving to bigger submarine designs, our choice of build strategy, and the broader support system and infrastructure needed to operate nuclear submarines," the report added.
According to the institute, it will take at least two decades before Australia has a useful nuclear-powered military capability.
In mid-September, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom announced the new trilateral defence partnership, which forced Canberra to give up on a $66 billion contract with France to develop 12 state-of-the-art conventionally powered attack submarines, as the alliance promises to enhance Australia's fleet with nuclear-powered submarines.
Australia's new project will take 18 months just to select a model of a submarine in the US and UK under the AUKUS partnership. However, ASPI believes that the deal will provide Australia with a regional strategic advantage.
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