In an opinion piece in The Australian on Thursday, the former defence minister said that before the federal election in May, Defence was investigating purchasing two Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from the US by 2030.
The arrival of the submarines would be at least 10 years ahead of schedule, compared with being built in Australia.
Dutton wrote the American submarine was the best option to prevent a capability gap following the retirement of the Collins-class submarines from 2038.
“I believed it possible to negotiate with the Americans to acquire, say, the first two submarines off the production line out of Connecticut,” he wrote.
“This wouldn’t mean waiting until 2038 for the first submarine to be built here in Australia.
“We would have our first two subs this decade. I had formed a judgement the Americans would have facilitated exactly that.”
Dutton wrote Australia needed nuclear-powered boats because “diesel-electric submarines would not be able to compete against the Chinese in the South China Sea beyond 2035”.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said his government was “completely committed” to delivering eight nuclear submarines, which the nation is set to acquire under the AUKUS security pact.
Earlier this week, it was revealed a Chinese military fighter jet dangerously intercepted a RAAF plane conducting routine surveillance in international airspace on May 26.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government would “stand up” for Australia’s national interest.
“We want to see a de-escalation of tension in the region,” he said.
“It’s not in anyone’s interests for instances like this to occur.
“It was a breach of the way that these things are normally done, so we’re very concerned about that.”
China’s growing interest in the region was also on the agenda of Albanese’s bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo earlier this week.
Local News Matters
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