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The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have welcomed the new agreement to build Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines and termed it a significant milestone in the endeavour of defence cooperation.

The agreement has been signed between Australia’s ASC Pty Ltd and UK-based BAE Systems, with the former being selected as Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine sustainment partner, according to a trilateral statement by Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and UK Defence Grant Shapps.

AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific region between Australia, the UK and the US.

“One year ago, on 13 March 2023 in San Diego, the leaders of Australia, the UK, and the US announced the Optimal Pathway. The Optimal Pathway outlines an ambitious plan to deliver a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability (SSNs) for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) – a plan that will strengthen our three countries’ combined military capabilities, boost our collective industrial capacity, set the highest non-proliferation standard and enhance our ability to promote stability and security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” the statement read.

AUKUS is built on the bedrock of decades of close defence, capability and technology cooperation between our three nations and is a natural progression of our partnership.

AUKUS partners welcomed the announcement of the selection of ASC Pty Ltd and BAE Systems to build Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines and the selection of ASC as Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine sustainment partner.

The formation of these strategic partnerships with industry is a significant milestone in the AUKUS endeavour. It is a demonstration of our trilateral industry supporting the Optimal Pathway becoming a reality and will underpin Australia’s role as a capable security partner and responsible steward of a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability for decades to come, it added.

The enduring trilateral partnership between the governments of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States supports these commercial relationships and further enables the close industrial collaboration across our three countries in support of AUKUS.

Under the new partnership, ASC and BAE Systems will build the SSN-AUKUS submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. The SSN-AUKUS will also be equipped for intelligence, surveillance, undersea warfare and strike missions, and will provide maximum interoperability among AUKUS partners, the statement read.

The Optimal Pathway was always designed to create a stronger, more resilient trilateral submarine industrial base, supporting submarine production and maintenance in all three countries.

The announcements are a testament to that – the build of SSN-AUKUS will increase opportunities for industrial base collaboration, strengthen our collective industrial base capacity, and generate economic growth in defense and national security sectors in all three countries, it added.

It further said that all AUKUS partners are making significant investments to ensure success of the Optimal Pathway and are working at pace to transform and integrate our trilateral industrial bases to support SSN cooperation.

“Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States remain fully committed to this shared endeavour. These steps to grow Australia’s submarine construction and maintenance capability are critical to the AUKUS partnership, expanding trilateral industrial capacity and building the collective resilience of AUKUS partners to produce and sustain conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines for decades to come,” the statement added.