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WA: Navy to invest $15 billlion on Australian subs: report

20 Feb 2009 1:48 PM

PERTH, Feb 20 AAP - The federal government will spend $15 billion on a new Australian-built fleet of submarines under a 15 to 20 year project.

The project codenamed SEA 100 will replace the Royal Australian Navy's fleet of six Collins-class subs based at Garden Island near Perth, the West Australian newspaper reported on Friday.

The submarines will be built in Adelaide, be non-nuclear and use a combination of Australian, European and US technology.

The acquisition was expected to create thousands of jobs and interest from international submarine outfitters.

It would also have major strategic and diplomatic consequences, a defence expert told the West Australian newspaper.

New technologies being developed by China and Russia would make the Collins-class subs obsolete, Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said.

"This weaponry will make life much more difficult for surface warships, so if a middle power like Australia wants to have a credible long-range naval influence, new submarines are going to be better than surface ships," Mr Davies said.

The six new submarines were expected to cost between $1.5 billion to $2 bilion each with project overheads possibly reaching another $3 billion.

AAP jp/ss