The Opposition leader and former defence minister said on Thursday he had planned to buy two Virginia-class submarines from the United States by 2030 and build another eight to bring the total fleet strength to 10.
Australia planned to acquire US nuclear-powered submarines over their rival British vessels, the former defence minister said on Thursday, revealing usually secretive deliberations on the multi-billion dollar deal.
Peter Dutton said he had planned to buy two Virginia-class submarines from the United States by 2030 and build another eight to bring the total fleet strength to 10.
The project is the centrepiece of Australian efforts to toughen its defences in the face of a more belligerent China under President Xi Jinping.
he choice of contractor – Britain or the US – will have a significant economic impact and would closely immesh the Australian navy with that of the winning nation.
Mr Dutton, who leads the opposition after his conservative coalition lost the May elections, said it became “obvious” to him as defence minister that the US submarines were a better choice.
Mr Dutton’s disclosure in an article for The Australian appeared to be aimed at pushing the new government into following his plan.
Australia’s former government had agreed to acquire either US or British nuclear-powered but conventionally armed submarines as part of a three-way defence alliance sealed last September, known as the AUKUS.