Can Australia’s AI-Powered Submarines Deter China’s Expansion?


  • Australia invests in contrasting submarine technologies, including nuclear-powered attack submarines and AI-driven ‘Ghost Sharks.’
  • Ghost Sharks offer cost-effective, rapid deployment capabilities, while nuclear subs are long-term investments.
  • Move signifies Australia’s response to China’s military expansion and strengthens ties with allies, including the United States.

In a strategic move aimed at countering China’s growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia is embarking on an ambitious endeavor to bolster its naval capabilities. This multifaceted initiative involves the acquisition of high-cost nuclear-powered attack submarines and the development of relatively affordable, AI-driven unmanned submarines known as ‘Ghost Sharks.’ 

As geopolitical tensions continue to escalate, Australia’s decision to fast-track these AI-powered submarines sends a clear message about its commitment to safeguarding its interests and those of its allies.

The divergent technologies

Amid growing concerns over regional security, Australia has chosen to embrace two distinct submarine technologies, each with its unique advantages and challenges. Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarines: The cornerstone of Australia’s naval expansion, these nuclear-powered attack submarines come with a substantial price tag, exceeding AUD$28 billion each. While their cost and complexity are significant, they represent a long-term investment in the country’s defense capabilities. 

But, these submarines are not expected to become operational until well past the midpoint of the century, emphasizing their role in future deterrence.

AI-Driven ‘Ghost Sharks’: In stark contrast, Australia is fast-tracking the development and deployment of AI-driven unmanned submarines, colloquially known as ‘Ghost Sharks.’ These futuristic underwater vessels are estimated to cost just above AUD$23 million each and are slated for delivery by mid-2025. 

Shane Arnott, senior vice-president of engineering at U.S. defense contractor Anduril, which is manufacturing the Ghost Sharks, highlights the game-changing aspect of these autonomous vessels. 

The absence of a human crew simplifies their design and production process, eliminating the need for a pressure hull and resulting in quicker and more economical production. These submarines, roughly the size of a school bus, exemplify the role that artificial intelligence and automation are now playing in modern warfare.

Responding to geopolitical realities

Australia’s decision to invest in these divergent submarine technologies is driven by the evolving geopolitical landscape in the Indo-Pacific region. The backdrop of this development is a comprehensive report published by the Australian government in April, which characterized China’s military expansion as the most significant since the end of World War II. 

The report underscored the immediate threats Australia could potentially face, emphasizing the need for swift action to bolster its defense capabilities. Shane Arnott, referring to the urgency highlighted in the report, stressed the importance of preparing for potential conflicts on a compressed timeline.

The significance of the Ghost Sharks extends beyond Australia’s borders. Anduril, the manufacturer of these AI-powered submarines, plans to offer them to a consortium of allies, including the United States, Britain, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, in addition to several European nations, as reported by Reuters. This collaborative approach signifies Australia’s commitment to strengthening its ties with its closest allies and enhancing regional security.

As one of the United States’ staunchest allies in the Indo-Pacific, Australia’s initiative to deploy multiple autonomous underwater robots for surveillance and various other naval operations years ahead of its first nuclear-powered submarine holds immense strategic importance. This move could potentially reshape the dynamics of military warfare in the region, providing a formidable deterrent against China’s military expansion and fostering closer cooperation among like-minded nations.

Australia’s bold move with AI-powered submarines

Australia’s decision to fast-track AI-powered submarines, while simultaneously investing in nuclear-powered attack submarines, marks a pivotal moment in the country’s defense strategy. It reflects the nation’s determination to respond proactively to emerging threats in the Indo-Pacific region, build stronger alliances with its closest partners, and leverage cutting-edge technology to safeguard its national interests and those of its allies. As the world watches closely, the ‘Ghost Sharks’ and their nuclear counterparts are poised to redefine the future of naval warfare in an era of rising geopolitical tensions.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Aamir Sheikh

Amir is a media, marketing and content professional working in the digital industry. A veteran in content production Amir is now an enthusiastic cryptocurrency proponent, analyst and writer.

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