“It’s partly long-lead items but it’s also partly working on those yards where our submarines will come out of for us,” Mead said on his way out from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference here.

While he did not provide many other details, it’s clear that most of that money will not start to flow for at least two years, since Australian defense spending is actually dropping $1.5 billion during that period. Previously an Australian lawmaker said the $3 billion would go to US as well as UK shipyards. Mead only mentioned Virginia-class subs made in the US, and American lawmakers have suggested the $3 billion is all US bound.

Mead also told the ASPI conference during a moderated session that Australia is “investing early in the US industrial base in order that we can have those Virginias fast-tracked to us in the early 2030s.” That will include “the deep maintenance done before they come to us,” he added.

Australia faces a vast defense spending bill over the next three to five years as it begins grappling with the expansion and transformation of its own naval infrastructure to handle resupply and maintenance of Virginia-class submarines.

For example, the defense subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade recently visited several defense bases. “Committee members were particularly disturbed at the state of disrepair while visiting the pier supporting diesel refueling of the Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station,” a committee statement said today. Holt is the site of a huge Very Low Frequency array used to communicate with US and Australian submarines.

“The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ seems to have been ignored, and urgent action is required within the next few months as this is a critical capability for Australia and the United States,” Julian Hill, chair of the subcommittee, said in a statement today.

The main facility for Virginia-class submarines (and much later SSN AUKUS) is expected to be HMAS Stirling, a base near Perth in Western Australia. The base will need to be upgraded substantially over the next three years, with roughly $1 billion to be spent over next four years, with another $7 billion committed to be spent over the next decade.

But the Australian money Mead discussed today will be spent in the United States. How it will be transferred and whether it will be paid to the US government or to companies or to a mix of the two remains unclear.

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