A sovereign submarine capability in Australia’s grand strategy

International relations Defence Australia North America New Zealand

This paper examines the principal policy issues, both military and non-military, surrounding the decisions to be made about Australia's future submarine capability.


The paper starts with a description of Australia's strategic outlook and its implications for our future force structure and then turns to the key defence, political and economic considerations involved. Professor Dibb argues that Australia should focus on conventional submarines, with at least six to nine providing the best option for the nation’s security.

Executive summary:

  • Australia needs a post-Afghanistan defence strategy.
  • Tight fiscal conditions are here for the medium term, so defence priorities need to be challenged.
  • A conventional submarine capacity of at least six to nine provides the best option for Australian security.

Policy recomendation:

Submarines are Australia’s most important strategic asset. Our future submarines will need long range and endurance and, if we are to retain a clear war-fighting advantage, they should be equipped with a US combat system and weapons. Nuclear submarines are not a credible option for Australia

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