The Australian Financial Review newspaper has thrown petrol on smouldering concerns about the rising cost of Australia’s future Attack class submarines with claims the government is considering abandoning the project altogether.
A story today by Andrew Tillett said Defence officials were examining the possibility of replacing the ageing Collins class submarine with an updated version of the original boat.
The story claimed ‘multiple sources’ suggesting the department was weighing entering talks with Swedish defence company Saab, which owns the Collins’ class submarines builder Kockums, about doing an evolved design dubbed “Son of Collins” as a Plan B.
The Australian Financial Review said: “While ‘Son of Collins’ was ruled out when the government began its competitive evaluation process for the future submarine project, Saab is vying for the Dutch navy’s submarine contract with a design that would offer a similar range to what the Australian navy requires for patrolling the South China Sea.”
The Australian Financial Review understands Prime Minister Scott Morrison is increasingly exasperated over the troubled $80 billion project, with tensions rising between the Defence Department and the French designer Naval Group.
A senior government source confirmed Mr Morrison was frustrated over some of the issues and “discussions about them have occurred”. Mr Morrison has previously raised disputes over the project with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The vessels were originally budgeted to cost $50 billion, with concerns about local content also weighing on Canberra.
Naval Group Australia has been approached for comment.
Picture: Royal Australian Navy
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