Speaking at the National Press Club on all things AUKUS, the Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conory, said that the decision to use an evolved form of an existing Combat Control System, rather than develop a new one, was a key lesson of the Collins class program.
“The critical lessons from the Collins build experience,” Conroy said, were the “challenges” that come from “combining a new hull design with a completely new combat and weapons systems and insufficient consideration of through-life support requirements.”
The AN/BYG-1 Combat Control System is currently fitted aboard the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Collins class conventional attack submarines, as well as United States Navy (USN) Virginia, Seawolf, Ohio and Los Angeles class nuclear powered submarines.
According to previous statements by the AUKUS partners this new combat system will also equip the SSN AUKUS submarines built for the British Royal Navy (RN). The RN’s nuclear powered submarines including both the Astute and Vanguard class are currently equipped with BAE Systems Common Combat System (BAECCS) which performs a similar role to AN/BYG-1.
Logically it’s likely that the new system will be first fielded aboard the RN’s Dreadnought class Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) as they come online in the early-to-mid 2030s.
While both systems have similar-unclassified capabilities around weapons control, sensor fusion, navigation and tactical picture creation, only the AN/BYG-1 Combat Control System has been integrated with vertically launched munitions.
The inclusion of a Vertical Launching System (VLS) aboard SSN AUKUS will set it apart from the Collins and Astute class, both of which rely on traditional torpedo tubes to launch all relevant munitions.
Australia Announces First SSN AUKUS Contracts
Days after his National Press Club appearance Minister Conroy also announced that Australia’s SSN AUKUS boats will be built using Australian steel. The steel, supplied by Australian company Bluescope Steel and treated by Bisalloy Steels will “meet or exceed” both UK and US submarine pressure hull-standards. According to Conroy, certification work on the steel, including nearly 5000 unique tests, will be completed by 2025 to enable construction of Australia’s SSN AUKUS submarines to begin “this decade”.
The $15 million AUD contract comes nearly two months after BAE Systems was awarded a £3.95 billion (~$7.6 AUD billion) by the British Ministry of Defence for detailed design work, as well as long-lead time items, on the submarine class.
USNI News reported last month that Australia will formally select an Australian company next year to partner with BAE Systems UK to deliver the Australian SSN AUKUS. The vessels, which will be built at an expanded Osborne Naval Shipyard, will roll-out at a drumbeat of one every three years from the early 2040s Conroy said. According to Conroy, with current schedules this means that, by the time the first Australian vessel enters the water “one if not two” RN submarines will also have done so.