Part of the announcement may involve plans to allow U.S. Virginia-class attack submarines to ramp up visits to Australia, or even home port one of the submarines in the country as the work continues on the Australian boats. The first Australian submarine won’t be operational until the late 2030s or early 2040s at the earliest. Officials still must sort through a raft of complicated issues, including how to export nuclear technology to the country, which has no civil or military nuclear programs in the works.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the event has not been officially announced yet. The White House declined to confirm plans.
The allies are expected to detail a path forward on “Pillar One” of the deal, which centers around the submarine design, training to manage the new fleet and all the associated costs. Reforms to U.S. laws on technology-sharing are required before advancing further to “Pillar Two,” American officials said.
But the announcement itself will show the progress made by allies to strengthen Australia’s naval capabilities and the three countries’ partnership to counter China’s growing military heft in the Indo-Pacific. The deal was viewed as a win-win-win in each of the three capitals. For Canberra, AUKUS helps Australia scrap its Collins-class fleet of conventionally-powered submarines. London, meanwhile, will see itself play a bigger role in the Indo-Pacific while Washington aids its ally’s military capabilities — sending a signal to Beijing.
“All of this is being undertaken to help make our closest allies more powerful and to convince Beijing that it is no longer operating in a permissive security environment,” said Charles Edel, the Australia chair at the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
By joining AUKUS in 2021, Canberra reneged on a multibillion-dollar nuclear sub agreement with Paris, causing a major diplomatic row that led France to recall its ambassador to the U.S.
Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday in part about “shared efforts to address challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China to the rules-based international order,” per a White House readout.
Bloomberg News first reported on the planned announcement.