GOP National Security Leaders: Implementing AUKUS Deal Will Require ‘Generational Investments’ in U.S. Sub Production Capacity
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME), Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as 22 of their Senate and House colleagues in calling on President Biden to take immediate action to strengthen the U.S. submarine industrial base as the U.S. works to fulfill the terms of the historic Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership. In the letter, the legislators emphasize their support for the AUKUS deal and argue that the U.S. submarine industrial base will require major new investments and a comprehensive plan of action to meet the needs of both the United States and Australia.
“We urge you to send Congress immediately an AUKUS-specific request for appropriations and authorities alongside a multi-year plan to increase U.S. submarine production to a minimum of 2.5 Virginia-class attack submarines per year. It is time to make generational investments in U.S. submarine production capacity, including supplier and workforce development initiatives,” the legislators wrote.
Also signing the letter are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ted Budd (R-NC), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Rick Scott (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Thune (R-SD), Katie Britt (R-AL), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK); and Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Jen Kiggans (R-VA).
The full text of the letter can be found below.
Dear President Biden,
We support the vision of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership and its potential to change the strategic landscape in the Indo-Pacific. The AUKUS agreement is vitally important, but we must simultaneously protect U.S. national security.
Accordingly, we urge you to send Congress immediately an AUKUS-specific request for appropriations and authorities alongside a multi-year plan to increase U.S. submarine production to a minimum of 2.5 Virginia-class attack submarines per year. It is time to make generational investments in U.S. submarine production capacity, including supplier and workforce development initiatives.
AUKUS has broad support because of its potential to improve the national security of all three countries. Implementing this deal will require a historic degree of cooperation and trust among the three countries, and here at home, between the executive and legislative branches of our government.
The administration’s current plan requires the transfer of three U.S. Virginia-class attack submarines to Australia from the existing U.S. submarine fleet without a clear plan for replacing these submarines. This plan, if implemented without change, would unacceptably weaken the U.S. fleet even as China seeks to expand its military power and influence.
The U.S. Navy’s military requirement is 66 nuclear attack submarines. Today, there are only 49 in the fleet. Further, as older nuclear submarines retire faster than they are replaced, the Navy projects the inventory will decline to 46 by 2030. Under the current AUKUS plan to transfer U.S. Virginia-class submarines to a partner nation before meeting the Navy’s own requirements, the number of available nuclear submarines in the U.S. submarine fleet would be lowered further. This is a risk we should not take.
The U.S. submarine industrial base is currently producing an average of 1.2 Virginia-class attack submarines per year, despite needing to produce two per year. To make up for the sale of at least three attack submarines to Australia, the U.S. would have to produce somewhere between 2.3 to 2.5 submarines per year to avoid further shrinking our fleet’s operational capacity.
The administration and Congress need to be willing to make the necessary investments into the U.S. submarine industrial base that will advance the security of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
We look forward to working with your administration to take the steps to implement the vision of AUKUS fully, including investments in the U.S. submarine industrial base. The enhanced security of the United States – and Australia and the United Kingdom – depend on our mutual collaboration and cooperation.