The Australian navy will be fielding next-gen nuclear attack submarines in the near future, thanks to a recent controversial agreement signed between the continental state, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
The recent trilateral pact announced by Australia will allow the country's military access to American and British nuclear technologies. From a military standpoint, this offers Australia a critical edge against region rival China; stealth. Unlike conventional diesel-electric vessels, nuclear-powered submarines are almost entirely silent, rendering them difficult to detect by enemy vessels. This relative silence allows hunter-killer submarines to be highly effective in stalking enemy surface ships and ballistic submarines to loiter undetected off an enemy coast undetected until striking.
The move furthers growing strategic cooperation between the three powers as part of an ongoing effort to augment force projection in the Pacific. The intent, of course, is to keep pressure on China as the Asian state squares off with Western powers over control of movement through the economically vital Pacific Rim. However, the move has caused a diplomatic falling out between the Entente and France, which had seen a lucrative contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia terminated by the pact. Based on comments made by the French government in response, the agreement seems to have come as a complete surprise to the European power.
The pact will inevitably prove to be immensely lucrative for American and British defense contractors from a business standpoint. The average American submarine contains a broad cross-section of highly sensitive technologies, ranging from reactors manufactured by General Electric
While contract bidding has yet to happen, it can be inferred that the potential field will be in the tens and possibly hundreds of billions of dollars based on the price tag of France's scrapped contract to provide diesel-electric submarines. The now-terminated contract was valued at $66 billion; given the greater complexity and sophistication of the technology involved in nuclear submarines, the cost would likely scale into a far more significant figure over the many years required for research and development.