Biden, Sunak, Albanese to hold talks on AUKUS defense pact, challenges
The AUKUS defense pact is made up of three parts, one of which includes Australia housing three US submarines before 2030.
US President Joe Biden is set to meet with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego on Monday for talks on working to build nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian navy under the trilateral pact between nations.
The pact, which also calls for collaboration on the military, artificial intelligence, and cyber technologies, was unveiled in September 2021. Only six countries currently have nuclear submarines: the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and India.
The pact is made up of three parts, one of which includes Australia holding US submarines before 2030, with Canberra purchasing at least three Virginia-class submarines in subsequent years.
The country will fund the building of the joint UK-Australia nuclear-powered submarines designed after British Atute-class boats, as part of Australia's biggest defense project, which could come into service as early as the 2040s.
Concerns over US manufacturing capability
There is a concern over the US' ability to manufacture more submarines, as the companies contracted to building the submarines often struggle to meet the navy's production goals, often failing to meet the two-boats-per-annum goal by half a boat.
That said, AUKUS' success relies heavily on unified political leadership, commitment, and funds. The goal is that with Australia's additional funds, additional facilities can be added to the US to boost its production values, implying the possibility of future US-Australia deals.
By building smaller and less costly UK-inspired submarines, rather than larger Virginia-class vessels, smaller crews, and smaller hulls will be allowed, which would benefit Canberra's small fleet. However, these models will rely on US technology and components, which pushes the US to rethink regulations around exports.
Analysts suggest that if all goes well and the three countries are able to complete such a big industrial project, the AUKUS agreement will serve as a memorial to Biden's national security policy.