As the AUKUS trilateral security partnership between Australia, Britain and the United States marked its first anniversary this week, Australian defense officials have stressed that the "optimal pathway" to acquiring nuclear-powered submarines under the pact is taking shape.

But concerns remain over a potential capability gap in the country's submarine force as its current aging conventional submarines are expected to reach their retirement before the new boats can be delivered.

The officials have flagged an announcement early next year on the type of ship the country will use and how any capability gap will be handled.