Important update on this article: April Fool’s
The French government has joined the previously trinational AUKUS submarine program. Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are already involved in the 368 billion dollar project. The plan is to build and deliver a new class of nuclear-powered attack submarine for the respective navies. Now the French Navy (Marine Nationale) could receive up to four submarines under the plans.
The AUKUS submarine deal was announced in a joint session by British, the American and Australian leaders on September 18 2021. A follow-up announcement on March 13 2023 confirmed that the British SSN(R) program would form the basis of the AUKUS design. It is unclear whether the French boats will be exactly like their Anglo-Saxon counterparts, or slightly slimmer.
There were already indications that this new partnership was imminent. It may explain why some official images of the then-called AUKUS submarine, released March 14, appear to show it with a French style sail. The sail depicted closely resembled the Barracuda class submarine which is now entering service with the French Navy.
In anticipation of cost overruns with the interior design of the crew accommodation and galley spaces, the submarines will be built for-but-not-with (FBNW) torpedo tubes. The new arrangement could save millions in operating costs. This is according to an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.
The torpedo tube situation would not be permeant. “In the event of increased tensions or the outbreak of hostilities” the source added “the submarines could be rebuilt with torpedo tubes in just a matter of years”. It should be remembered that a 4 year overhaul is considered short in submarine terms. Especially in Canada.
The submarine service remains silent on the new deal.
Joint Construction Key To Success
It is understood that the submarines will be built in a new facility exactly halfway between Southampton and Cherbourg. The latter is the home of French submarine building. Such a political decision was widely expected. It is the hallmark of international collaborations in the defense arena. Australia’s submarines will be built locally in Australian yards, and assembled in France and the United Kingdom. The completed submarines will then be shipped by rail via the Suez Canal to Australia.
The upgraded program will be renamed FUKUS after France joins. Following the expected formal announcement, the submerge à trois will become a submerge à quatre. Boris Johnson, who was among the leaders who originally announced the AUKUS program, is said to be keen to join the celebrations. A Downing Street spokesperson has preemptively denied the existence of the planned catered business meetings.
It is understood that Canada will not be allowed to join FUKUS for common decency reasons.