First Collins Class life-of-type extension

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On 5 June it was announced that HMAS Farncomb will be the first of Australia’s six Collins class submarines to undergo sustainment and capability enhancement under a life-of-type extension (LOTE) program being implemented by the Commonwealth Government.

The LOTE program is part of the Government’s commitment to invest $4 to $5 billion to ensure the Collins class submarines continue be provide a potent strike and deterrence capability.

The LOTE of Farncomb will be undertaken by the highly skilled workers at ASC and commence in 2026 at Osborne in South Australia. The LOTE program will ensure the future availability of the Collins class submarines, without compromising on submariner safety. The Government’s decisions on the LOTE program have been informed by advice from Defence as well as independent expert advice.

A previously approved optronics upgrade for the Collins class submarines, will not proceed following advice that it would have added complexity and risk to the life-of-type extension program. The SSN AUKUS nuclear-powered conventionally armed submarines will likewise not be fitted with this particular design. The Government has also received advice from Defence, in consultation with the US, that adding Tomahawk cruise missile capability to the Collins class submarines is not viable and does not represent value for money.

The Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines Australia will receive in the early 2030s will come with the Tomahawk as standard equipment. Tomahawk cruise missiles will also be used by Navy’s Hobart class destroyers and the Government has agreed in-principle to fit the Hunter class frigates with Tomahawks, subject to a feasibility study.

These decisions will reduce risk for the Collins class program and will help maximise Collins class availability as we transition to our future nuclear-powered submarine capability. The Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP said,

“The life-of-type extension program underscores the Albanese Government’s unwavering commitment to keeping Australians safe by ensuring the ADF has the capabilities it needs to deter potential adversaries. Sustainment of the Collins class submarines continues to meet the Navy’s operational requirements and ensures the submarines remain an enduring, potent and credible capability that is critical to Australia’s national security. The sustainment and upgrade work on the Collins class submarines give industry the certainty it needs and will provide a further boost for Australians who will benefit from the creation of highly skilled and well-paid jobs.”

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