15 Oktober 2010
Scorpene submarine (photo : naval technology)
THE navy has fired back at critics of its push to have 12 new submarines built in Australia.
It says an "off-the-shelf" European boat would not have the range or capability to hit targets far away in wartime.
Navy Chief Vice-Admiral Russ Crane suggested the answer could be a bigger version of the Australian-built Collins-class submarine.
It would also have a state-of-the-art propulsion system to allow it to cruise deep underwater for long periods.
A big advantage of a nuclear submarine is that it does not need to surface to run its diesel engines and recharge the batteries.
Andrew Davies, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, has calculated that to build the boats in Australia, as the government plans to do, would cost about $35 billion -- three times the cost of a fleet of French or German submarines.
Vice-Admiral Crane said that estimate was fairly crude but not entirely unreasonable.
"Until we do the assessment of cost versus capability, I don't think we really know yet what the detailed figure might be."
But he said the idea of buying a submarine "off the shelf" in Europe did not accord with the philosophy of having a national submarine capability.
"It isn't as simple as saying a couple of Scorpene submarines from France can replace our Collins-class submarines because they cannot. They cannot go anywhere near the capability of our Collins-class submarines."