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The once and future submarine-raising and sustaining Australia's underwater capability

By Andrew Davies and Mark Thomson

The future submarine project announced in the 2009 White Paper will almost certainly be the largest Australian defence project ever.

But the clock is ticking—given the time it takes to develop and build a new submarine, we may already be bumping up against the time left for the Collins fleet.

Decisions are needed soon, and they need to be backed up by the money required to gather quality information. The government needs to decide what sort of wars it wants our submarines to fight, and what their role in those wars will be. And if the Collins runs out of life before the replacement is ready, Australia will lose a major capability in the process.

History shows that to be the case—the delay in delivering Collins is still being felt a decade later.