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US Congress set to approve AUKUS submarine deal

The US Congress is expected to approve as early as this week this week the transfer of at least two US Navy Virginia-class submarines to the Royal Australian Navy under Pillar 1 of the tripartite AUKUS agreement.

Approval of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), along with the crucial H.R 4619 AUKUS Submarine Transfer Authorization Act, will see US submarine production rates rise to cover the transfer, will see the Australian government invest US$3 billion in US submarine manufacturing capacity, and will provide an exemption for Australia and the UK from the US State Department’s cumbersome and restrictive ITAR (International Transfer in Arms Regulations) regime so long as both countries develop similar bodies of law to protect US technology.

Under H.R. 4619 the two (at least) Virginia-class submarines will be transferred to Australia within 15 years of the bill becoming law whilst authorising cash contributions from the government of Australia to support the US submarine industrial base.

The same bill would authorise the export of defence services to the governments of Australia and the UK, as well as to approved private sector organisations under the US Arms Export Control Act (AECA). This will enable both the transfer to Australia of US reactor technology under Pillar 1 of AUKUS and the joint research and procurement of advanced capabilities such as Quantum technologies and electronic warfare under Pillar 2.

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