What are nuclear-powered submarines and how do they work? Australia’s firepower ambitions explained

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SUBMARINE

We may expect the Australian submarines to look a lot like the current models in the US and British arsenals, according to a pact Australia made with the US and the UK to start a nuclear-powered submarine program.

The US Navy and the Royal Navy have two types of submarines: attack and ballistic missile submarines. Both are propelled by nuclear reactors that transform water into high-pressure steam, which drives turbines.

However, assault submarines and ballistic missile submarines (sometimes known as “boomers”) have quite distinct functions. Rather than the nuclear-armed boomers, Australia has chosen the nuclear-powered alternative or assault submarine. They armed nuclear weapons with their ballistic missiles.

The following is the distinction between the two:

Attack submarines

Canberra wants attack submarines, which are the backbones of the US and UK submarine fleets.

“The shore energy project was based on Tomahawk crossing missiles and special operational troops, intelligence, monitoring, and strikes were designed to identify and destroy enemy submarines and surface boats and recognition (ISR) missions; fighting groups and mine warfare are supported,” the U.S. Navy said.

In its 53-ship fleet, the United States has three types of attack submarines. The 19 members of the so-called Virginia class are the most recent additions.

The Virginia-class submarines, which are 377 feet long and weigh 8,000 tons, can cruise at more than 28 mph (46 kph) and stay submerged indefinitely. Thanks to dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles and torpedoes. Only the necessity to refill rations for the crew of 132 limits their stay underwater.

There isn’t even a periscope on the submarine. Rather, it monitors the battlespace with a photonics mast. Which is a piece of technical wizardry that contains high-definition and infrared video. The data is presented on big screens in the command center, and the entire presentation is controlled by a joystick.

The USS Indiana, a nuclear-powered attack submarinedeparts Port Canaveral in Florida on October 1, 2018.
On October 1, 2018, the USS Indiana, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, departs Port Canaveral, Florida.

The UK’s four Astute-class attack submarines are quicker than the US subs, capable of submerged speeds of more than 35 mph (56 kph), and carry the Tomahawk cruise missile, just like the US subs.

“Tomahawk IV is the latest version of the missile. It has a much longer range than its predecessors (well over 1,000 miles), can change targets in mid-flight, and can even send photos of the battlefield back to its mother submarine “According to the Royal Navy’s website.

That’s the kind of firepower and endurance Australia needs to defend its northern waters from naval threats and project its naval force into the South China Sea, where it hopes to counter Chinese influence and safeguard freedom of navigation alongside the United States.

An Astute-class submarine operated by the UK's Royal Navy, heading down the Firth of Clyde, in September 2020.
In September 2020, an Astute-class submarine operated by the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom cruises down the Firth of Clyde.

Submarines with ballistic missiles

The United Kingdom and U.S. boomers are carrying Trident ballistic missiles with many nuclear bombs. Their job is to stay at sea for months at a time, with the great majority of their time submerged, and be ready to deliver a retaliatory nuclear strike if an adversary launches one against the UK or the US.

The ballistic-missile submarine USS Pennsylvania returns home to its Washington state homeport following a strategic deterrence patrol in 2015.
Following a strategic deterrent cruise in 2015, the ballistic-missile submarine USS Pennsylvania returns home to its Washington state homeport.

Submarines carrying ballistic missiles are incredibly silent and difficult to detect beneath the waves. They are the cornerstone of deterrence, ensuring that a US or UK foe would pay a terrible price if the US or UK launched a first-strike nuclear attack.

Each with up to eight warheads (16 for UK submarines) (three for UK submarines). each with up to eight warheads (three for UK submarines). They have a range of 4,600 miles and maybe shot from any direction (7,400 kilometers). Nuclear weapons have explosive outputs ranging from 100 to 475 kilotons. During World War II, the atomic bomb unleashed on Hiroshima, Japan, had a yield of 15 kilotons.

The United States possesses 14 ballistic missile submarines, whereas the United Kingdom has four. These are not the submarines for which Australia has agreed to pay.

When will Australia deploy submarines?

It takes a long time to design and deploy a nuclear-powered submarine, maybe decades. The three-party agreement unveiled on Wednesday simply calls for an 18-month study to determine the optimum way for Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines.

The new submarines could not enter the Australian fleet until 2040, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

With the security situation in the Indo-Pacific, former US Navy submarine commander Thomas Shugart, now a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, believes Australia may be trying to have its submarines in the water sooner.

Shugart noted, citing local content vs. established vendors, a new design with sophisticated qualities versus existing US/UK submarine or propulsion system designs, and so forth.”Many compromises that may affect the timetable should be investigated.”

Given the deterioration of the Indo-Pacific military balance, I believe 2040 is the earliest possible date. ” Even if I could, I can’t imagine a deployment timeline of less than a decade.” we move at breakneck speed and reuse a lot of existing design and suppliers.”



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