Australia's future submarines have so far been one thing above all else: an idea.

How exactly the at least eight nuclear-powered submarines should look, what they can do and how much time their production will take, talks between Canberra, London and Washington will only begin shortly.

Lorenz Hemicker

Editor in politics

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What is certain is that Australia is breaking new ground with its submarines, which the country's navy is supposed to receive.

So far, the country has relied on diesel-powered boats.

Due to their size and their low noise profile, they were ideally suited to operate in shallow waters or the approaches to sea bays.

In the past, attack submarines with diesel engines repeatedly managed to infiltrate into highly secured groups of aircraft carriers during western maneuvers.

That is why the Australian submarines have long been considered a good complement to the nuclear-powered boats of the Americans, which are now likely to become the basis for the Australians.

The Virginia class, which is now the backbone of American fighter submarines, is considered to be the blueprint.

Driven by an S9G pressurized water reactor with an output of around 40,000 hp, the boats can remain under water for months. They produce the electricity and drinking water themselves as well as the oxygen. The boats are fast - the American Navy specifies the speed of their boats as almost fifty kilometers per hour -, difficult to discover and versatile. Depending on their armament, they are suitable for classic combat against warships as well as for hunting enemy submarines. Reconnaissance missions are just as conceivable as supporting the deployment of special forces.

Australia has ruled out nuclear armament, as is possible on American boats. The Australian boats are unlikely to go into operation until the end of the 2030s at the earliest. The knowledge of the reactors themselves should remain in American hands.

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