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The French Navy has recently launched the Suffren, the first French Barracuda class nuclear powered attack submarine. At the launch ceremony attendees included French officials such as the French president Emmanuel Macron, as well as Australian officials such as the Australian minister of defense, Linda Reynolds. Considering that Australia has purchased 12 of these submarines, that comes with little surprise.
French president Macron stated how the submarines will “seal an essential alliance between our two nations,” thus strengthening the diplomatic bond between the nations via mutually increasing the two nation’s firepower.
However in contrast to the French nuclear powered sub, the Australians will receive a conventionally powered submarine. Since Australia does not have a nuclear energy program, it lacks the knowledge to effectively operate a nuclear powered submarine. This means the Australian variant of the sub will not be able to stay submerged as long as its French counterpart.
The French company constructing the submarines, Naval Group, states very little concerns towards delivering a non nuclear powered submarine to Australia. This is due to the relatively large amount of nations currently operating a conventionally powered Naval Group sub. These countries include Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Pakistan, and India.
Defensenews.com also mentions how the launch ceremony gave Naval Group the opportunity to further discuss operations with the Dutch company Royal IHC. The two organizations are planning to cooperate in an effort to replace the Netherlands’ four 30 year old Walrus class submarines, considering the Dutch government’s policy to “buy Dutch” whenever possible. However, this effort has been seeing several delays considering many Dutch political parties simply believe the nation does not have any need for a submarine program.
Other companies such as Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Spain’s Navantia have also shown interest in the project.