Aus­tralia signs mega deal for French subs

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Aus­tralia yes­ter­day signed a mega deal to pur­chase a fleet of next-gen­er­a­tion sub­marines from France, with Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull hail­ing the ves­sels’ “cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy”. French De­fense Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian inked the in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment (IGA) in Ade­laide that will see French ship­builder DCNS de­sign and build the Shortfin Bar­racu­das. The to­tal cost of the 12 sub­marines, in­clud­ing sep­a­rate agree­ments with US and Aus­tralian con­trac­tors, will hit Aus$50 bil­lion (US$37 bil­lion).

“The IGA is the last foun­da­tion stone needed to en­sure Aus­tralia is able to de­velop a cut­ting-edge sov­er­eign sub­ma­rine ca­pa­bil­ity,” Turn­bull told re­porters. The agree­ment is a “crit­i­cally im­por­tant step in the de­vel­op­ment of our se­cu­rity, in the as­sur­ance of our gov­ern­ment in de­liv­er­ing Aus­tralians the se­cu­rity and the pros­per­ity that they need,” he added. With most of the work on the subs to be car­ried out in Ade­laide, Turn­bull un­der­lined the num­ber of do­mes­tic jobs to be cre­ated.

“This will be a sov­er­eign de­fense in­dus­try ... cen­tered here in Ade­laide ... cre­at­ing 2,800 jobs at the very cut­ting edge of tech­nol­ogy,” he said. “Our fu­ture, our as­sur­ance, our se­cu­rity as a first world high wage gen­er­ous so­cial wel­fare net econ­omy de­pends on the tech­nol­ogy, the in­no­va­tion, the skills that come from in­vest­ments such as this.

“This is a key el­e­ment in our eco­nomic plan.” Le Drian said the agree­ment was “an im­por­tant build­ing block in deep­en­ing our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship, no­tably ... be­tween our two navies”.

He thanked Aus­tralia and de­scribed the sign­ing as an “his­toric event”. Aus­tralia awarded DCNS the main con­tract in April, beat­ing off com­pe­ti­tion from Ger­many and Ja­pan. The in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment sets out the le­gal frame­work un­der which Can­berra and Paris will part­ner on the sub­ma­rine pro­gram over com­ing decades. The ves­sels will be a scaled-down, con­ven­tion­ally-pow­ered ver­sion of France’s 4,700-tonne nu­cle­ar­fu­elled Bar­racuda but boast the same stealth ca­pa­bil­i­ties. De­sign and mo­bi­liza­tion work has al­ready been launched with Aus­tralian ex­perts work­ing in Cher­bourg while DCNS was to open new of­fices in Ade­laide later yes­ter­day em­ploy­ing up to 300 en­gi­neers. US de­fense con­trac­tor Lock­heed Martin was named in Septem­ber to fit the com­bat sys­tems for the Bar­racu­das. — AFP

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