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Details of Australia's nuclear subs revealed in leaked AUKUS deal



Australia will purchase two types of nuclear-powered submarines in the nation's biggest defence spend according to a leaked three-stage AUKUS plan.

The agreement for Australia to buy Virginia-class submarines will be announced on Monday when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meet in San Diego for talks on the 18-month-old nuclear partnership known as AUKUS.

A European official and a person familiar with the matter spoke about details on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

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Australia will acquire the nuclear-propelled submarines in three planned stages, the sources said.

The first in 2027 at the earliest will see US nuclear-powered submarines rotated through Australia. The second won't come until the mid-2030s when Australia buys up to five Virginia-class submarines. By the 2040s, Australia will receive up to eight UK Astute-class submarines.

The total cost is estimated to be $100 billion, making it Australia's biggest defence spend.

The AUKUS agreement, announced in 2021, paved the way for Australia to get access to nuclear-powered submarines, which are stealthier and more capable than conventionally powered boats.

The three-nation defence pact was launched amid growing concerns about China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The submarines, which cost $4.5 billion each, are built at shipbuilding plants in Virginia and Connecticut. Under the terms of the agreement, subs would eventually also be built in Australia and the UK with US technology and support, the person familiar with the matter said.

The initial plans called for all of the subs to be constructed in Adelaide.

The US would also step up its port visits in Australia to provide the country with more familiarity with the nuclear-powered technology.

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Albanese, who is visiting India, confirmed that he would appear with Biden and Sunak in San Diego next week to make a major announcement.

On Thursday Albanese flew to Mumbai, where he visited India's homemade aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which was commissioned in the Indian navy in September.

He said in a tweet that the Indian Ocean is central to both countries' security and prosperity. "And we are working together to ensure the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive, and prosperous."

He announced that Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time later this year, bringing together the navies of Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

The annual exercise includes fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers, anti-submarine warfare, counterpiracy operations and anti-air warfare operations.

Modi and Albanese will hold official talks on Friday in New Delhi.

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