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Defence describes outline of Collins-class LOTE

The Royal Australian Navy’s six Collins-class submarines will now not be armed with the Tomahawk strike weapon, and will also forego their planned optronics upgrade. The Government’s decisions on the life-of-type extension program have been informed by advice from Defence as well as independent expert advice, says Defence.

HMAS Farncomb will be the first of Collins-class submarine to undergo sustainment and capability enhancement under the LOTE. This forms part of the Government’s commitment to invest $4 to $5 billion to ensure the Collins-class submarines continue to provide a potent strike and deterrence capability, according to Defence.

“Sustainment of the Collins class submarines continues to meet the Navy’s operational requirements and ensures the submarines remain an enduring, potent and credible capability that is critical to Australia’s national security,” said Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy.

“The sustainment and upgrade work on the Collins class submarines give industry the certainty it needs and will provide a further boost for Australians who will benefit from the creation of highly skilled and well-paid jobs.”

The LOTE of HMAS Farncomb will be undertaken at ASC in Osborne, South Australia, and commence in 2026.

An optronics upgrade for the Collins-class, announced by the former Coalition government, will not proceed following advice that it would have added complexity and risk to the LOTE. The SSN-AUKUS nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarines will likewise not be fitted with this particular design, says Defence.

The Government has also received advice from Defence, in consultation with the United States, that adding Tomahawk cruise missile capability to the Collins class submarines is not viable and does not represent value for money. Eliminating integration of the Tomahawk will reduce the risk associated with the LOTE and will help maximise Collins-class availability in the transition to nuclear-powered submarine capability.

However, the Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines Australia will receive in the early 2030s will come with the Tomahawk as standard equipment. Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a range of up to 1,600km, will also be used by Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers and the Government has agreed in-principle to fit the Hunter-class frigates with Tomahawks, subject to a feasibility study.

These decisions provide certainty and support the growth and development of ASC’s highly skilled workforce now and into the future, according to Defence.

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