Military

Australia's Navy May Go Nuclear

We gotta sell our old submarines to somebody

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Top Coalition leaders want to open the debate over the purchase of nuclear submarines to replace the navy's diesel fleet, a huge step up in Australia's military capability in response to China's plan to become a major maritime power in the Pacific Ocean.

Senior Coalition frontbenchers told The Weekend Financial Review that acquiring or leasing Virginia-class nuclear submarines equipped with conventional weapons, such as cruise missiles, would be supported by the Obama Administration.

Purchasing the submarines is not yet Coalition policy but some shadow ministers have discussed the idea with United States officials. Australia's dependence on seaborne trade and China's ambitions make a powerful submarine fleet the most sensible naval strategy, some Coalition leaders believe, and nuclear submarines would be more reliable and lethal than Australia's existing submarines.