The Department of State endorsed, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered congressional notification of, a proposed Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Case for submarine training devices, personnel training, planning, and nonrecurring engineering (NRE) services in support of the AUKUS Pillar One Optimal Pathway. The case will span nine years and have a ceiling of $2 billion pending passage of several legislative proposals.
“The submarine trainers are the same ones used by U.S. crews assigned to Virginia Class boats,” said Capt. Lincoln Reifsteck, the AUKUS Integration and Acquisition (AUKUS I&A) Program Manager. “The systems will be used by Australian submariners and U.S. crews on boats assigned to HMAS Stirling in Western Australia as part of Submarine Rotational Force – West (SRF-W) which will be established as early as late 2027. The Royal Australian Navy will utilize the trainers to train its crews ahead of buying and operating their own Virginia Class submarines.”
The United States, with Congressional approval, will sell three Virginia Class submarines to Australia starting in the early 2030s with the potential of increasing the total number to five. The training devices will be used for the life of the Australian-flagged Virginia Class SSNs.
The FMS case also provides the mechanism to train Australian civilians and contractors at United States Naval Shipyards. Pending Congressional approval, the first Australian submarine maintainers will begin training at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF) in the second quarter of calendar year 2024.
“Right now we have Australian Maintenance Personnel, or AMPs, observing how we plan and execute SSN maintenance at PHNSY & IMF,” said Reifsteck. “They’re also laying the ground work to have up to 75 Australians per quarter living and training in Hawaii so we can bring them over as soon as we’re able to so.”
The AUKUS partnership is a strategic endeavor that strengthens the three nations’ national security and promotes peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia will acquire conventionally armed SSNs for the Royal Australian Navy under AUKUS Pillar One via the Optimal Pathway announced by the heads of the three partner nations on March 13, 2023. AUKUS I&A is responsible for executing the trilateral partnership to deliver conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered attack submarines to the Royal Australian Navy at the earliest possible date while setting the highest nuclear stewardship standards.