An official website of the United States government

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on AUKUS Optimal Pathway Announcement
March 14, 2023

Today, I was honored to join President Biden, Australian Prime Minister Albanese, and U.K. Prime Minister Sunak as they announced the AUKUS Optimal Pathway, a commitments-based, phased plan for Australia to acquire conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines. This is the next step forward in the transformational partnership among our three great democracies.

In September 2021, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom laid out an ambitious vision for our countries that will strengthen our combined military capabilities, boost our defense industrial capacity, enhance our ability to deter aggression, and promote our shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific. AUKUS is a shared, long-term investment that will allow us to build defense advantages that endure for decades to come.

One of the most important parts of this partnership is increasing each of our countries’ submarine capabilities. Under the first phase of the Optimal Pathway, the United States and the United Kingdom will immediately increase port visits of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines in Australia and then, as early as 2027, will begin rotating through Australia under Submarine Rotational Force-West.  In the next phase, the United States intends to sell three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s, with the potential to sell up to two more if needed. Finally, Australia and the United Kingdom will develop and deploy SSN-AUKUS, a new conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine that incorporates critical U.S. technologies. Each phase of the Optimal Pathway will set the highest nuclear nonproliferation standards.

We’re also working to strengthen our countries’ industrial bases; to eliminate barriers to information-sharing and technological cooperation; and to develop and deliver advanced capabilities in such areas as artificial intelligence, hypersonics, and maritime domain awareness. All these investments will allow us to work more closely with our valued and highly capable allies to deter aggression in the Indo-Pacific—a region whose future is crucial for U.S. national security and the rules-based international order that makes us all safer.

I would like to thank the many public servants in all three proud democracies whose hard work has made this historic announcement possible. I look forward to working with my team and with our Australian and British counterparts to continue to move toward our shared vision of a stable, secure Indo-Pacific and an open world of rules and rights.



Statement from Secretary Antony J. Blinken: AUKUS Leaders’ Announcement

Today, President Biden, British Prime Minister Sunak, and Australian Prime Minister Albanese announced the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) under the Australia, United Kingdom, and United States (AUKUS) partnership.  The AUKUS partnership represents a modernization of the longstanding alliances and partnerships between our countries, guided by a shared commitment to global prosperity, security, and stability.  It deepens our longstanding diplomatic, security, and defense cooperation to meet the complex challenges of the future.

The benefits of the AUKUS partnership will also extend across the Indo-Pacific region, which is home to more than half of the world’s people and nearly two-thirds of the world’s economy. It reinforces our collective strength by weaving our transatlantic and Indo-Pacific allies and partners closer together in support of the international system that underpins these objectives.

Australia’s modernization of its submarine fleet will be a multi-decade undertaking binding our countries closer together as we actualize this opportunity side-by-side.  Australia’s acquisition of conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines will be done in a manner that sets the highest nonproliferation standard and strengthens the nuclear nonproliferation regime.  This partnership is possible because of Australia’s longstanding and demonstrated commitment to nuclear nonproliferation.

Much of the history of the 21st century will be written in the Indo-Pacific, and we are proud to stand with our partners across the region to enhance economic prosperity, freedom, and the rule of law, and to preserve the rights of each country to make sovereign decisions free from coercion.  AUKUS will help advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region for generations to come.