A Hybrid Build for Australia's Future Submarine
The role for a combat systems engineer
Raytheon Australia has made a contribution to the debate on the future submarine program by releasing a white paper, titled SEA 1000 – A Hybrid Build Précis’. One of the important considerations for the program articulated by the Australian Government, is to avoid a capability gap once the Collins-class submarines begin to be retired from service in the latter half of the next decade.
The Raytheon Australia white paper confirms that, if the first future submarine is to be in the water by 2026, an acquisition strategy needs to be settled now.
It is clear that Australia does not have the design capabilities to go it alone on the future submarine program. It is now nearly two decades since the build of the last Collins submarine began. This means that the nation will need to work with an international partner to successfully undertake this venture and provide maximum value for the Australian taxpayers. To achieve this Australia should move as soon as practicable to establish a long-term collaborative partnership to design and build the future submarine. From a defence industry perspective such a collaborative approach would provide many new, long-term local jobs including:
- In mission system design;
- mission system fit-out;
- hull consolidation;
- test and activation; and
- sustaining the submarine throughout its approximately 30 year operational life.
These roles would also require a substantial Australian supply chain The Raytheon Australia white paper describes how the “spirally developed” Collins class program’s technologies and knowledge base should be utilised for future submarine project. Key to success is the early establishment of an Australian CORE Team. This should include the selection of a single Australian combat system systems engineer (CSSE) which:
- has a strong and successful capability with a broad base from which to draw capability as required;
- is suitably experienced with extensive corporate capability in systems integration, complex program management and Australian submarine capabilities;
- has a proven track record in the effective delivery of performance-based support solutions
- is provided with long-term program incentives; and
- has the experience and proven capability to manage US technologies, data and information throughout.
During the preliminary design phase it will be the role of the
- conduct trade studies on mission system equipment and Australian-unique requirements (combat system, communications suite, etc.);
- conduct the overall mission system architectural design, including integration with wider ADF systems, networks and collaboration;
- collaborate with the overseas designer to ensure systems, electrical requirements and platform impacts are suitably addressed in the design (i.e. accommodation of Australian-unique requirements). This would also entail sanitising, declassifying or removing ITAR content from platform design input data and managing sensitive original equipment manufacturer and US design discussions;
- “Australianise” the operational and environmentally specific requirements;
- address systems engineering and architecture considerations to ensure systems can be adequately sold-off;
- consider the total cost of ownership, life-of-type management and undertake sustainment planning; and
- cost and plan for future phases.
Australian industry has every reason to welcome the opportunities presented by the SEA1000 future submarine program. Through a collaborative approach with an international partner, Australia has the potential to acquire the most capable conventional submarine in the world, optimised for our needs while delivering maximum value for money for the taxpayer.
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