Australia signs massive submarines deal with French firm

Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrision and French Defence Minister Florence Parly shake hands after signing the Attack class submarine Strategic Partnering Agreement in Canberra Australia February 1

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Christopher Pyne met with French Defense Minister Florence Parly in Canberra on Monday to sign the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) to guide the project, nearly three years after Naval Group, formerly known as DCNS, was selected to build the submarines.

The $50 billion Attack class program will see 12 regionally superior submarines designed and built in Australia for the Navy. "With their inherent stealth, long-range endurance, and formidable striking power, the Attack-class are a key part of our Navy's future", he added.

“This agreement with Australia will seeNaval Group transfer the“know-how” and “know-why” to Australia to become an sovereign submarine nation.

Negotiations on the SPA began in early 2017 and were meant to have been completed during that year, but was delayed by issues including the length of warranty periods and the implications of a possible merger between Naval Group and Italy's Fincantieri.

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"Today is a defining moment for Australia with the formal signing of a $50b agreement to build 12 submarines in Australia for the Navy".

Morrison said work on the design of the Attack class has continued without interruption under an AUD500 million Design and Mobilisation contract that was signed in September 2016, and would continue uninterrupted under the SPA.

The Feasibility Study phase of the Future Submarine design contract being undertaken in France with the support of Australian engineers has been completed.

The conclusion of the SPA was preceded by a two-year wrangle over contract details. The Australian Department of Defense also voiced concerns over a future sale of Naval Group, which is majority owned by the French state, to a private entity and its possible negative impact on Australian-French collaboration on the sub building project.

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