“Otherwise, the absence of submarines will create a 10-year capability gap,” Conroy warned.
“This is the first opportunity for Congress to show a tangible commitment to the AUKUS Agreement,” he added. “It’s important to get these early pieces…that’s the key hurdle for all of this.”
Billed as Australia’s largest military leap in history, the $368 billion AUKUS agreement is a tripartite agreement between the United States, Britain and Australia to defend the Indo-Pacific and counter strategic threats from China.
Under this strategy, Australia will acquire at least three Virginia-class submarines from the United States, while increasing its capability to develop its own nuclear submarines by the 2040s. The agreement also promises cooperation in AI, hypersonics, quantum computing and other advanced technologies.
But questions remain over the long term, the outrageous cost to taxpayers, and the labyrinth of US export control laws that the US must reform to share nuclear technology secrets with Australia.
And with elections next year, and Congress split between Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House, it’s not clear how long it will take for the necessary legislation to pass.
Asked if he was concerned that AUKUS could be endangered under another administration, say if Donald Trump retakes the White House next year, Conroy said: I mean, across Congress… there’s incredibly strong bipartisan support.
“There’s a real spirit of trying to understand that urgency,” he said. “The most common thing I hear when I meet him is, ‘How can I help?'”
Another challenge facing AUKUS is finding and training enough people to build and operate submarines. According to the government, the project is expected to create 20,000 jobs over the next 30 years, many of them in industries with a very small presence in Australia.
Conroy said he was confident AUKUS would be ready Labor force It was able to recruit and upskill people through a new education and training program created by the government.
“But I’m not going to complain to you. Defense procurement is difficult, and no country does it perfectly,” he added.
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https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/aukus-faces-first-critical-hurdle-in-election-focused-us-congress-20230609-p5df8w.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world AUKUS faces first ‘significant hurdle’ in election-focused US Congress