May 27, 2024

Is SSN-AUKUS a realistic option for Canada?

During the Canadian Armed Forces' eagerly anticipated announcement of future increases in defense spending in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he had discussed potential Canadian membership in the AUKUS alliance with his American, British and Australian counterparts.

The president also announced talks with the same interlocutors so that Ottawa could join the SSN-AUKUS project, which aims to develop a new generation of nuclear submarines to equip the British and Australian navies.

However, if it makes more sense to choose nuclear propulsion for future Canadian attack submarines, all other parameters of this hypothesis, from the time to the cost of such a project, seem wrong for the Canadian reality.

Towards an expansion of the AUKUS alliance to counter China in the Pacific

For weeks now, the US has been trying to make more diplomatic overtures to strengthen the AUKUS alliance, given the growing tensions with China. Therefore The issue was raised with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio KishidaHe made an official visit to Washington to meet with President Biden.

Japan has a powerful conventional submarine fleet that is rapidly modernizing with the arrival of the Taipei, the first submarines equipped with lithium-ion batteries.

For Tokyo, it will be a question of joining the second pillar of the AUKUS alliance, which refers only to military cooperation and not participation in the SSN-AUKUS nuclear submarine program.

Keep in mind that the Japanese Defense Forces already have a very capable fleet of submarines, which are currently being modernized with the new Taiji-class submarines, the first to be equipped with lithium-ion batteries. In addition, the country is constitutionally unable to maintain its armed forces, which significantly limits the usefulness of nuclear submarines.

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Justin Trudeau is in talks with the US, UK and Australia about joining AUKUS

However, this is absolutely not the case for Canada. Not only does Ottawa share membership in the Five Eyes, America's closest allies, with the three founding members of the AUKUS alliance, the country is not subject to constitutional restrictions governing the use of Japanese forces.

In addition, the Royal Canadian Navy has begun a plan to replace its four Victoria-class submarines with six to twelve new submarines, while strengthening its presence on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Victoria class submarine
Four of the Royal Canadian Navy's Victoria-class submarines entered service between 4 and 1990.

LOGO Metadefense 70 Nuclear Attack Submarine SSN SSN |  Security Analysis |  Australia

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