During an official diplomatic meeting between the 2 countries, South Korea made clear its desire to deepen defense ties with Australia. Noting the now advanced collaborative projects related to HUNTSMAN and REDBACK, Seoul’s diplomatic and defense industry personnel have formalized the bold offer to build advanced conventional attack submarines for Canberra in “7 years from signature to delivery.” The reason behind the still attractive offer is simple: Australia could face a capability gap if its COLLINS-class submarines are no longer able to operate before the first Australian-made nuclear attack submarines (with the AUKUS support) are made operational. In fact, it is expected that the Australian COLLINS will be able to sail safely until around 2030, but few experts believe Australia will be able to launch its first nuclear-powered attack boat before 2040. The government of the new prime minister Anthony Albanese expects to provide more details on the future of Australian diving capability by March 2023. It is reasonable to think that, by then, the Government may be clear about whether Australia needs a provisional capability. As already mentioned, South Korea, with Hanwha Defense Australia (HDA), is intensely competing to win the contract for 450 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) for the Australian Army. In addition, HDA also plans to produce 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armored ammunition supply vehicles at its Avalon plant in the state of Victoria, Australia, in a new 32,000 m2 center. The possible proposed South Korean submarine is the KSS-III (JANGBOGO III), heralded as the largest and quietest conventional-propelled attack submarine in the Indo-Pacific, if not in the world, as well as the first AIP submarine capable of embark and launch submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Despite the enthusiastic tone of the South Korean staff, Australia will have to decide whether there will actually be a capacity gap, how long it will be and if, above all, Canberra can really afford to build and support a submarine construction project at the same time. nuclear.
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