US President Joe Biden is set to meet with two of the US’s closest allies to announce that Australia will buy US-made nuclear-powered attack submarines to modernize its fleet amid growing concerns about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Biden will travel to San Diego on Monday, where he will meet with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for talks on the 18-month nuclear partnership known as AUKUS.
The partnership, announced in 2021, paved the way for Australia’s access to nuclear-powered submarines, which are stealthier and more capable than conventionally-powered boats, as a counterbalance to China’s military buildup.
San Diego is Biden’s first stop on a three-day trip to California and Nevada. He will discuss gun violence prevention in the Monterey Park, California community and his plans to reduce the cost of prescription drugs in Las Vegas.
The trip will include stops for fundraising as Biden ramps up his political activities ahead of his anticipated plans to announce a 2024 re-election run next month.
Australia is buying up to five Virginia-class boats as part of AUKUS, according to two people familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the plans. A future generation of submarines will be built in the UK and Australia with US technology and support. Initial plans call for all Australian submarines to be built in Adelaide, Australia.
The United States would also step up port visits to Australia to provide the country with greater familiarity with nuclear-powered technology before it has such submarines of its own.
Biden will also hold bilateral meetings with Albanese and Sunak, an opportunity to coordinate strategy on a number of global challenges, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and the global economy.