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In the mid-2020s, the Royal Australian Navy plans to retire the oldest of its Collins-class submarines. Australia intends to acquire 12 new submarines to replace the Collins-class vessels. The Australian Department of Defence asked RAND to assess the domestic engineering and design skills that industry and the government will need to design the vessels, the skills that they currently possess, and ways to fill any gaps between the two. Although Australian industry has numerous technical draftsmen and engineers, few have experience in submarine design, and their availability may be limited due to demands on their time from other programs. The researchers concluded that (1) using this inexperienced domestic workforce instead of a fully experienced one to design the new submarine would lengthen the time it would take to complete the design by three to four years and would increase the costs by about 20 percent, (2) adding submarine-experienced personnel from abroad would shorten the schedule and lessen the cost increase, and (3) taking 20 years rather than 15 years to design the submarine would reduce the peak demand for designers and draftsmen.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Australian Department of Defence and was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

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