In July 2020, Submarines for Australia made a Submission to the inquiry by the Senate Economics Reference Committee into Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding industry.
A major theme of the Submission was that while the government’s Defence Strategic Review and Force Structure Plan, published on 1 July 2020, provided a significant change in Australia’s national security strategy, the major existing acquisition programs were excluded from consideration in the force structure review. Yet the current naval programs in particular may not be well aligned with the new strategic emphasis in at least two respects.
First, now that the concept of a ten-year strategic warning time has been discarded and, in the words of the Minister, “that future is now”, the lengthy delivery schedule for both the Attack class submarines and Hunter class frigates may not be consistent with the new urgency. The second issue is whether either of the new platforms is fit for purpose in terms of the reduced emphasis on coalition operations and the need to provide for the defence of Australia in and beyond the air-sea gap to our north.
The Submission calls for a review of three Defence programs: