US F-16 fighter shoots down object near Canadian border

The US military has shot down an octagonal object over Lake Huron near the Canadian border, the fourth object downed this month as North American security forces remain on high alert for airborne threats.

Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the military had shot down the object but declined to say whether it resembled the large white Chinese balloon that was downed earlier in February.

The Pentagon said a US F-16 fighter jet shot down the latest unidentified object at the direction of President Joe Biden.

A senior US official said the object had an octagonal structure with no discernible payload, a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

The US has no indication the object posed a military threat or had surveillance capabilities.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the object was not assessed to be a military threat, but it was a flight hazard.

“We did not assess it to be a kinetic military threat to anything on the ground, but assess it was a safety flight hazard and a threat due to its potential surveillance capabilities. Our team will now work to recover the object in an effort to learn more,” he said.

The object was recently detected over Montana, prompting the closure of US airspace.

It was the fourth unidentified flying object to be destroyed over North America this month, straining US relations with China.

Officials said the latest object was shot down using a Sidewinder missile in US airspace at an altitude of 6100 metres, where it could have potentially interfered with domestic air traffic.

US Representative Elissa Slotkin, who represents a district in Michigan near where the incident took place, said pilots from the US Air Force and National Guard shot down the object.

“Great work by all who carried out this mission,” she wrote on Twitter.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she had been in contact with the federal government after the takedown.

“Our national security and safety is always a top priority. I’ve been in contact with the federal government and our partners who were tracking an object near our airspace. I’m glad to report it has been swiftly, safely, and securely taken down,” she tweeted.

“The National Guard stands ready.”

The first object was a balloon shot down off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.

On Friday, a second object was shot down over sea ice near Deadhorse, Alaska. A third object was destroyed over Canada’s Yukon on Saturday, with investigators still hunting for the wreckage.

“Recovery teams are on the ground, looking to find and analyse the object,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.

“The security of citizens is our top priority and that’s why I made the decision to have that unidentified object shot down,” he said, adding that it had posed a danger to civilian aircraft.


Neuroscientists finally know why PTSD patients have recurring nightmares

FEBRUARY 9, 2023

By Shyla Cadogan

Sleep can bring out emotions that typically stay inside of us — sometimes in the form of nightmares. For those with post-traumatic sleep disorder, the brain tends to make bad memories come back night after night among people with PTSD. Now, Virginia Tech researchers say they know why post-traumatic stress disorder patients keep reliving these disturbing incidents in their sleep.

Researchers note that post-traumatic sleep disorder keeps the brain and those experiencing this nightly trauma stuck in a vicious cycle. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, brain activity is elevated, which can lead to the brain exhibiting behaviour similar to when people are awake. In fact, the brain can even be more awake during REM sleep than when you’re actually up, which is how it got its nickname of “paradoxical sleep,” according to Virginia Tech neuroscientist Sujith Vijayan.

Exploring the ‘Wild West’ of sleep

Generally, in REM sleep, levels of the neurotransmitters that typically promote wakefulness like norepinephrine and serotonin decrease. Vijayan and the team linked lowered levels with the brain’s ability to inhibit fear expression cells, through rhythms sent between the front of the brain and the amygdala — a region connected to emotional expression. In PTSD patients, these levels remain elevated. As such, study authors explored how the levels observed in sleeping PTSD patients could affect these fear-linked rhythms.

The research models show that in the brain of PTSD patients, these elevated levels allow fear memories to roam free, unlike what happens in healthy people. They discovered that these patients may need higher frequency rhythms to get rid of these memories, which could potentially be a viable therapeutic target according to this team. The problem is that much of sleep neuroscience research has been conducted on non-REM sleep, which describes the phases of moving from light to deep sleep. With that in mind, Vijayan refers to REM sleep as the “Wild West” in terms of what’s known about it in relation to memory.

“REM sleep is a lot harder to get your hands around,” says Vijayan, an assistant professor in the School of Neuroscience, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science, in a university release. “There are really good models out there for how non-REM sleep might consolidate memories and what role it might play in learning and memory. But when we talk about REM, there are no real, good models on how that stuff is happening.”

Scientists may have found a way to end these nightmares.

During these experiments, the team reduced the norepinephrine and serotonin levels to represent typical REM sleep in order to normalize the rhythms. In doing so, they found that fear memories were successfully inhibited. More specifically, they found that a certain frequency of brain rhythms was especially effective at repressing fear expression cells. Lower-frequency theta rhythms of around four hertz, which is the main unit of frequency, were most effective at strengthening connections between the parts of the brain needed to keep fear memories at bay.

Theta rhythms help coordinate brain activity between the regions of the brain that are involved in learning and memory. In humans, they are typically around four to eight hertz. Researchers then modeled REM sleep in people with PTSD, mimicking the conditions as the first experiment. To their surprise, they didn’t notice the same trends.

“I’m a little surprised that the four hertz didn’t work,” Vijayan adds. “I thought maybe it would still be effective, but it really wasn’t at all.”

By narrowing down the focus to these rhythms, scientists may have found a beneficial path to helping PTSD patients sleep more soundly. The main premise could even be applied to other brain conditions as well.

“That could be useful for any sort of disorder where sleep is disrupted, not only in PTSD, but in traumatic brain injury or Parkinson’s disease. The idea is that by inducing desired neural dynamics, we can engage the recuperative powers of sleep,” Vijayan concludes.

The findings are published in the journal JNeurosci.


Growing signs Australia’s new nuclear sub will be British design

Photo: Australian Defense Minister, Richard Marles, met with UK Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, in London on Feb. 1, 2023. (Kym Smith for ADF)

With the formal announcement of Australia’s path to obtain nuclear attack submarines expected to happen in Washington next month, speculation about the likely solution AUKUS is beginning to leak out.

The most intriguing hints centre on a British boat — but not the Astute-class — based in part on rare public comments by Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles and his British counterpart, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Marles said Monday in Canberra that an announcement on Australia’s preferred option was “not far off,” and would be a “genuine three-way collaboration” between Australia, the UK and US. “I think when you see what is ultimately unveiled, it is the three countries working really closely together.”

Adding some detail to the discussion in a prepared Thursday speech before the Australian House of Representatives, he defended the likely high quantity of foreign content in the new subs, noting that almost all major Australian weapon systems depend on foreign content.

“Some argue that Australia’s reliance on our partners for the acquisition of naval nuclear-propulsion technology gives rise to a dependence that undermines Australia’s sovereignty,” Marles said. “Yet the reality is that almost all of Australia’s high-end capability is developed in cooperation with our partners. Submarines are no exception. And that dramatically enhanced capability dramatically enhances our sovereignty.

“We need to leverage expertise from the United Kingdom and the United States to help us along our optimal pathway — and building capability with them means we are better able to shape, deter and respond within our strategic landscape,” Marles added.

From the first announcement of the AUKUS effort, Australia has said it intends to build boats at home. However, developing the nuclear expertise from a tiny pool of a few dozen individuals to potentially thousands of people will take time, as will development of the highly skilled welders and other technical experts needed to build and maintain nuclear powered boats. Developing a new design and building a new shipyard to produce it seems unrealistic, given the lack of domestic expertise — especially if the goal is to deploy nuclear attack submarines before the conventionally powered Collins-class attack subs are retired.

That has prompted talk of America supplying Australia with refitted Los Angeles-class boats or providing Virginia-class boats that would be crewed by Australians, but both options pose many obstacles. America doesn’t seem able to build nuclear attack boats quickly enough to meet its stated requirement of 66, which prompted two top defence lawmakers in the Senate to caution President Joe Biden against committing the US to supplying Australia with nuclear boats.

Given the concerns about personnel and Marles’ comments, there is reason to think Britain’s next-generation sub, which will require a much smaller crew than do any of the American boats are in play.

Nick Childs, a naval expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, touted the prospects of the UK’s next-gen sub in a piece published on Jan. 23.

“However, there have recently been indications that a design based more on the UK’s planned next-generation submarine, currently dubbed SSNR, has been finding favour, and could potentially be developed further under AUKUS. This may ultimately be the foundation for the plan that eventually breaks surface,” Childs wrote.

“Among the ‘straws in the wind’ are the UK’s ambitions to rebuild its own submarine fleet. The Royal Navy would like to see a rise from the planned seven Astute-class attack submarines to perhaps 12 boats in the long term. In a speech in December 2022, the UK chief of the defence staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, said of AUKUS that ‘if we have the courage to do this properly’ it could help grow the UK’s own submarine numbers in the decades to come, clearly assisted in part by potential economies of scale under AUKUS.”

Australia’s conventionally powered Collins-class boats rely on a crew of 58, compared to 143 for the nuclear US Virginia-class and 98 for Britain’s Astute-class subs. Australia has found it challenging to find, train and retain sub crews for the smaller subs.


Photo: Los Angeles class USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) joins Royal Australian Navy Collins Class Submarines HMAS Collins, HMAS Farncomb, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Sheean in the West Australian Exercise Area in February 2019. Credit: RAN LSIS Richard Cordell

British Options on the Table

During his Feb. 1 appearance with Marles, Wallace, the UK’s defence secretary, appeared to offer some evidence for the UK next-gen sub, saying the AUKUS boats would be a: “joint endeavour. Whether that is the sharing of technology and the understanding of how to do it, the sharing of the build, or the sharing of the design — whatever option is chosen by Australia, it will be collaborative.”

Back in November 2021, the man who led the day-today work on the AUKUS boats in Australia, Vice Adm. Jonathan Mead, told an Australian Senate committee that his country intended to select a “mature design” for its nuclear submarine. “It is our intention,” Mead said then, “that when we start the build program, the design will be mature and there will be a production run already in existence.” That would appear to make the British offering a candidate.

“I think the major problem Australia has to face up to is that the infrastructure and regulatory architecture required to deliver a SSN [nuclear powered attack submarine] in the mid-2030’s means it has to collaborate with a foreign partner, initially at least,” Sidharth Kaushal, a sea power expert at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, told Breaking Defence.

“The point of friction that introduces with the UK [revolves around] the Australians operating with the US Navy primarily in the Indo-Pacific and their preference for things like prompt strike capabilities, including cruise missiles and potentially hypersonic missiles. The [US Navy] Virginia-class payload module can host those weapons but the [Royal Navy’s] Astute-class can torpedo launch cruise missiles but doesn’t necessarily offer prompt strike capabilities.”

All seven Astute-class submarines are due to be in service with the Royal Navy by 2026, each with a life cycle of 25 years.

“Even if you don’t know exactly what SSNR requirements looks like now, you know that certain modules, certain sensors, certain things would be necessary to integrate on it, so in principle you could create a sort of tri-national production line to build components of it and generate efficiencies of scale,” said Kaushal.

In September 2021, the UK MoD awarded two contracts both worth £85 million to BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce for SSNR design and concept work, intended to “inform a future decision” regarding which program development approach to take. Britain announced roughly a quarter of a billion-dollar investment in the Submersible Ship Nuclear Replacement two days after the AUKUS project was announced.

So far, foreign industrial partners have not been contracted for SSNR activities but a fully collaborative approach with AUKUS partners has been touted by Wallace stretching back to September 2022.

“There’s much more work to be done when you look at areas of joint production…but for the initial project of delivering a new Australian submarine there’s going to be some compromises,” Kaushal said. “For the US, this works out quite nicely, but their big challenge of course remains, that their production lines are struggling to meet US Navy requirements.”

Should the Virginia-class be selected for the Australian requirement, the US would also benefit from new basing facilities for the future submarines, he added.

“It would effectively give the US an additional SSN base separate to Guam, which is of course an inherently vulnerable location and will be more so going forward,” Kaushal explained.

Operationally, how the future Australian submarines operate in the Indo-Pacific looks to be particularly difficult to assess in light of China formidable ASW capabilities, like Type 56 Corvettes and Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, combined with the often shallow waters of the South China Sea which can make nuclear submarine missions more difficult.

“China is investing in a pretty substantial sensor network in the South China Sea that includes under sea hydrophones, large unmanned underwater vehicles all linked up to artificial islands they have built,” Kaushal said.

On that basis, he suggested that Australia does “not necessarily” have to operate the SSN from the South China Sea in order to counter Chinese aggression, but could use the vessels as cruise missile launch platforms outside of it.

Regardless of whether the new subs come online in time to replace the Collins-class, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin pledged on Dec. 7 that the US “will not allow” a capability gap to appear between Australia’s Collins class sub retirement planned for 2039 and the deployment of its first nuke powered attack subs.

Kurt Campbell, head of Indo-Pacific issues on the US National Security Council, has said the three countries will increasingly fund their forces “almost melding.”

“We will have more British sailors serving on our naval vessels, Australians and the like on more of our forward-deployed assets in Australia. This leads to a deeper interconnection and, almost a melding in the new respects of our services and working together on common purpose that we couldn’t have dreamed about five or 10 years ago,” Campbell said in November 2021.



214479 Ron Field 2Pl A Coy 1RAR – KIA 9 October 1965 “Iron Triangle “

A request has been received from relatives of Ron Field requesting information.

Ron’s relatives are looking for anyone who served in Vietnam with Ron and may have more information that they would be willing to share with them.

If you are willing to assist with information please contact Bill Williams at  [email protected] and he will put you in contact. As you would be aware information is important to his relatives.

Thanks as always
Bill Williams

[email protected]

ED: Please don’t reply to me Bill Williams is the contact. Ray

This was the most fearsome army in the Vietnam War

By Blake Stilwell – US Correspondent

It might come as a surprise to some that the fighting in Vietnam wasn’t limited to the Soviet-backed North or the U.S.-back South Vietnamese forces. Along with Communist China and other Communist movements in the region, who were fighting to reunite the Vietnams under the red banner, there were other belligerent, free countries in the region that had an interest in keeping South Vietnam away from the Commies. Among them was South Korea, whose tactics were sometimes so brutal, they had to be reined in by American forces.

But brutality doesn’t always inspire fear, and fear is what struck the hearts of Communist forces when they knew they were up against the Australians. The Aussies brought a death the Viet Cong might never see coming.

Today, the picture of the Vietnam War is often American troops on search-and-destroy missions, fighting an often-unseen enemy who blends in with the jungle. When the North Vietnamese Army or the Viet Cong do attack the Americans in this perception, it comes as an unseen, unexpected ambush, routing the Americans and forcing them back to their fire bases. This is not actually how the Vietnam War went – at all. In Vietnam, much of the fighting was also done in the cities and in defence of those firebases. There were even often pitched battles featuring tanks and artillery. In fact, the 1972 Easter Offensive was the largest land movement since the Chinese entered the Korean War and featured a three-pronged invasion of the South.

So, let’s not pretend it was rice farmers vs. American soldiers.

But the North Vietnamese forces in the jungle did have to worry about a mysterious fighting force, moving silently to close in on them and murder them. They weren’t Americans — they were Australians, and they came to Vietnam to win.

Australian special operations units would go out into the jungles of Vietnam for weeks at a time, often without saying a word to one another in order to maintain complete silence as they stalked the Northern troops through the jungles. The Australians committed more forces to the war in Vietnam than any other foreign contributor (except for the United States, that is). It was the largest force Australia had ever committed to a foreign conflict to date and was its largest war. But they conducted themselves slightly differently, especially in terms of special operations.

Just like the image of U.S. troops moving through the jungle, dodging booby traps and getting ambushed, the North Vietnamese forces had to face the same tactics when operating against the Australians. Aussies routinely ambushed NVA patrols and booby-trapped trails used by the Viet Cong. When they did engage in a pitched battle, such as in places like Binh Ba, the Australians weren’t afraid to fight hand-to-hand and move house-to-house. In fact, the NVA was beaten so badly at Binh Ba, they were forced to abandon the entire province.

The Vietnamese didn’t have much luck on the offensive against the Australians, either. When assaulting Firebase Coral-Balmoral in 1968, the Communists outnumbered the Aussies and New Zealanders almost two-to-one. They hit the base with a barrage of mortars in an attempt to draw the ANZAC forces out of the base and chalk up a win against the vaunted Australians. When the 120 Australians came out to clear the mortars, they found way more than a mortar company – they found 2,000 NVA troops surrounding them.

The Aussies fought on, calling sometimes dangerously close artillery strikes from New Zealand and U.S. positions. The outnumbered fought, surrounded until an Australian relief force came out of the base to help their beleaguered mates. The NVA pressed an attack on the firebase using an entire regiment but were repulsed. Rather than sit and wait to be attacked again, the Aussies and New Zealanders went out to meet the enemy, this time with Centurion tanks. The battles for Coral-Balmoral went on like that for nearly a month: attack, counter-attack, attack counter-attack. The NVA had strength in numbers, but the Aussies had pure strength.

Eventually, the NVA would be routed and would avoid Nui Dat Province for as long as the Australians were defending it.


Once foes, old friends, Australians should be helping Turkey in these dire days…

Time to dig deep for our far away friends

The Suez Canal, built between 1859-1869 finally alleviated the need for long sail voyages to and from Europe around the Cape of Good Hope or the more notorious Cape Horn.

It’s arguable new migration patterns formed as people from Mediterranean nations now had relatively simpler access to Australia, Greek, Italians and Lebanese among them who became early pioneers in commerce and agriculture.

Access to British “possessions” in Egypt, India, Ceylon and Singapore influenced our trading relationships.

CLICK LINK to continue reading

Time to dig deep for our far away friends | Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (


Remembering the HMAS Melbourne/Voyager disaster

10 February 2023

Naval Association of Australia

There are some things that you just can’t unsee. That was the case for the sailors aboard the armada of ships and aircraft dispatched to the scene of the Melbourne/Voyager collision on the night of 10 February 1964. They managed to rescue 232 of their mates, but at a terrible personal cost.

At its Monthly Ceremony on 24 February, the Naval Association of Australia wishes to highlight the service of members of the Royal Australian Navy first responders. We will commemorate crew members from HMAS Voyager (II) (pictured) who paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country, and the persons who answered the call for assistance including HMA Ships Melbourne, Stuart, Hawk, Ibis, Curlew, Snipe and Teal and search and rescue (SAR) vessels from HMAS Creswell (Air Sprite and Air Nymph), air assets from Naval Air Station Nowra including Wessex and Sycamore helicopters, Gannets anti-submarine aircraft, Dakota aircraft, RAAF Neptune and HM submarine Tabard.

Their first sight was the massive hole ripped in Melbourne’s bow, the half of Voyager still floating but sinking fast and life rafts full with shocked, injured, and deceased sailors.

This was the assault on the senses that 24-year-old Lieutenant Kerry Stephens faced when his command HMAS Air Nymph, a SAR vessel from HMAS Creswell arrived at the scene two hours after the collision. Nine minutes after the collision Kerry had answered the hotline call, hit the emergency siren and within two minutes Air Nymph was manned and heading out at 28 knots.

Defence Force personnel are highly trained to immediately shift into adrenaline overdrive in emergency situations, just to operate at maximum efficiency. It is widely acknowledged now the effects of trauma often comes later, sometimes decades later, with triggered memories accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.

It took Kerry 44 years to tell his story, and only after being pressured by his naval colleagues.

‘Many of the sailors swimming in the water were not wearing life jackets,’ he says. ‘Some could obviously see us as we approached, and calls were heard from groups of those in the water crying “Over here, over here”.

‘The survivors we pulled out were suffering shock, and severe injuries and required medical treatment by our Surgeon Lieutenant on board. Most were covered in oil from their immersion in water and traumatised from the collision.

Kerry was about to go alongside the stern of the Voyager to carry out a search for anyone still onboard. However, a Chief Ordnance Artificer from the destroyer, who had been recovered from the water, said he was the last to leave the stern section and assured him that there was no-one left onboard.

‘I always worried that I should have gone alongside the stern to check for survivors, and it wasn’t until 2008 at a lunch with a Voyager survivor that my mind was laid to rest. It’s a long time to wonder if you left some to die.

‘Our crew also brooded on our actions that night. In the following days, many of them came to see me and asked if there was anything more that they could have done and whether we missed people in the water.’

It was disappointing for Kerry that no acknowledgement, praise or thanks were ever received for what the SAR crews did that night during the rescue operations.

‘They saw many horrific things but did what they had to do, without question or hesitation,’ says Kerry. ‘They all showed initiative under extremely traumatic conditions and performed their duties above and beyond what would have been expected of sailors of their age and experience.’

It was the same for the sailors on Melbourne, whose quick actions plucked 180 souls from the water in their lifeboats. The operating theatre and sickbay were ready to receive the injured.

However, for a long time, a completely unfair and untrue rumour of fault followed the Captain and crew of Melbourne. The subsequent inquiry clearly exonerated Captain Robertson and his crew. But that did not diminish the ‘survivor guilt’ and perceived stigma of being on Melbourne. Until recently few memorial services even mentioned them.

One such sailor was Bob Clarey, a very young Stoker on Melbourne who was catching some night air on a break with a mate, sitting on the superstructure behind the funnel. This gave him a bird’s eye view of the whole accident. After ‘action stations’ was called, Bob scrambled to the deck and spent the next few hours getting the survivors ready for medical attention.

‘I remember the collision, it replays in my mind in nightmares, but I have no recollection of the two weeks I spent in the Balmoral Naval Hospital afterwards, where I was being psychologically assessed for what they called battle fatigue.’

Bob was just 16 years of age, a junior recruit. He never had his career in the Navy, leaving after 18 months due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

‘We had no counselling, thanks or recognition of our role that night. For years we were thought of as the bad guys of the Navy who had caused the accident.’

Only recently the crew of Melbourne were included in Voyager ceremonies which Bob has attended at St Marys at Kangaroo Point at the memorial to the tragedy. ‘I feel compelled to go, but it brings it all back to me – it’s a meltdown.’

Two Naval Association members, John King and Noel Chidley were called out on the minesweeper HMAS Ibis from Jervis Bay.

‘We went out and back three times that night, only finishing at 1030 the next morning,’ says Noel. ‘On one trip we could only travel at four knots as we were escorting the admiral’s barge which had men so badly injured that they couldn’t be moved, some not expected to make it. One sailor was missing an arm. Every time there is a shipping accident in the news, I have flashbacks, all bathed in that eerie green from the spotlights we set up on deck to look for men in the water.’

‘It is my hope that if those who are still alive read this article, they can be assured that the exceptional way they all performed their duties will never be forgotten,’ says Kerry.

A short ceremony is held at 10.30am on the last Thursday of every month at the Jack Tar statue in the South Brisbane Memorial Park. At each ceremony, a guest from the relevant part of the RAN tells their story in front of veterans, serving RAN personnel, descendants, and the general public.

This month, we will commemorate the Melbourne/Voyager disaster on Thursday 23 February. All welcome.

For anyone impacted by this article, support is available at Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling service. Open Arms has a range of specialised trauma-informed, military aware services, including counselling and group programs. Call 1800 011 146 for free and confidential support or visit


RAN nuclear submarines.

RAN nuclear submarines will ‘change the balance of power in the Indian Ocean’: Retired US Navy admiral says.

By: Liam Garman

Admiral (Ret’d) Harry Harris Jr told the US House Armed Services Committee that the Royal Australian Navy’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines would be “dramatic” and shift the balance of power in the Indian Ocean.

According to ADM (Ret’d) Harris, former Commander of the US Pacific Fleet and US Ambassador to South Korea, nuclear submarines would give the RAN a “long reach” and provide Australia with a blue water navy.

A blue water navy is capable of sustaining global operations at substantial distances from friendly operating bases.

While ADM (Ret’d) Harris acknowledged that there may be challenges in arming the Australian Defence Force with nuclear-powered submarines, he maintained optimistic that the joint resources of the US, the UK and Australian governments would enable the AUKUS partners to expedite the currently projected timeframes.

“It’s a decade-long process,” he told the committee.

“The Chief of Naval Operations has said it can be 30 years before we see an Australian nuclear submarine.

“I’ve said that if we put our hearts and minds to it, and our resources to it — and by ours, I mean the United States, the UK’s and Australia’s — we can do this faster than that. I mean, we put a man on the moon in eight years … we can do this.”

Despite the recent concerns raised by members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee earlier in the year, ADM (Ret’d) Harris threw his support behind the AUKUS technology transfer.

“They are our key ally in that part of the world.

“I’m all for it.”

The committee confirmed that the timelines for the acquisition would be announced within a month.

In January, concerns were raised by Senator Jack Reed and Senator James Inhofe casting doubt over the ability of the US industry to construct Virginia Class submarines for Australia while also meeting operational demand from the US Navy.

In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, and subsequently leaked to news outlet Breaking Defence, the pair allege that the construction of the submarines would push the US defence industry to “breaking point”.

“Over the past year, we have grown more concerned about the state of the US submarine industrial base as well as its ability to support the desired AUKUS SSN end state,” the pair wrote.

“We are concerned that what was initially touted as a ‘do no harm’ opportunity to support Australia and the United Kingdom and build long-term competitive advantages for the US and its pacific allies, may be turning into a zero-sum game for scarce, highly advanced US SSNs.”

Senator Reed was the committee chairman and Senator Inhofe the ranking member at the time of writing.