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Dominic Giannini

Why Australia is chasing silent submarines

Australia is developing silent submarines to give its military an edge over potential rivals. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Australia will soon acquire three uncrewed and undetectable "ghost shark" submarines to deter potential foes.

A federal agency responsible for applying the latest science and technology to national security has teamed up with the navy on the project.

Three truck-sized submarines will be rolled out in coming years.

Chief defence scientist Tanya Monro said the vessels would be capable of firing various missiles and each submarine would do "profoundly different things".

Professor Monro also hinted at other capabilities that could not be discussed publicly.

"But use your imagination," she told industry figures on Monday.

"It might help for deterrence if your potential adversary doesn't know where you are or what you're able to pop up and do."

The agency's warfare chief Peter Shoubridge said Australia needed technologies such as the "ghost shark" submarines and cyber capabilities to help deter much larger adversaries.

He said advances in military technology also presented a huge opportunity for Australian industry.

"Our focus is really on long-range, precision fires," Dr Shoubridge said.

"We're focusing on areas where Australia has real leadership capabilities, where we're highly recognised for quality value by international partners."

Information scientist Dale Lambert said cyber capabilities were a critical part of countering larger adversaries with more firepower and resources.

"Things like hypersonic weapons - they have to go in and out of the atmosphere - that's all decided by onboard computers," Dr Lambert said.

"So if you're getting in there and messing with those onboard computers, they're not going to do what you want anymore."

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