The new submarine fleet, the first of which will hit the water in the early 2030s, will be built using Australian steel, PM Turnbull said, declaring the pledge “part of our plan for the jobs and growth of the 21st century”

SYDNEY, (Australia) – France has won the Australian Future Submarine contract, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced.

“This is a momentous national endeavour,” announced Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull said the 12 new Shortfin Barracuda Stealth Submarines in Australia to be delivered by French contractor DCNS under the country’s biggest ever defence contract “will be the most sophisticated naval vessels being built in the world”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced all 12 of Australia’s next fleet of submarines will be built in Adelaide from local steel, with France winning the hard-fought global race for the A$50 billion contract.

The submarines “will be built here in Australia … with Australian jobs, Australian steel, and Australian expertise”, PM Turnbull said. However, some components may come from other states of Australia or other countries including the combat system, which will be sourced from the US.

The new fleet, the first of which will hit the water in the early 2030s, will be built using Australian steel, he said, declaring the pledge “part of our plan for the jobs and growth of the 21st century”.

Mr Turnbull said in Adelaide on Tuesday morning that the decades-long program would create about 2800 direct jobs and help Australia transition to a 21st century economy.

The submarines cost $20bn to build and $30bn to sustain after they come into operation in the middle of the next decade.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces the winning bid for for the new submarine DCNS at a press conference in Adelaide. Photo: David Mariuz

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces the winning bid for for the new submarine DCNS at a press conference in Adelaide. Photo: David Mariuz

France welcomed Australia’s “historic” pick of DCNS for exclusive negotiations for the Australian $50 billion ($38.7 billion), Future Submarine program, and President François Hollande made a visit to the office of the naval shipbuilder in the French capital.

“This is an historic program, the largest weapons export program our country has ever undertaken,” the Elysée president’s office said in a statement. The selection was possible due to a government-to-government agreement at a “strategic level” of over 50 years.

The Shortfin Barracuda is a 4,500-tonne conventionally powered submarine and is closely related to the nuclear-powered Barracuda which weighs 4,700 tonnes.

DCNS has said the full details are confidential, but the Shortfin Barracuda is known to be over 90 metres in length and to feature an advanced pump-jet propulsion system that is supposed to be quieter than propeller propulsion systems.

“The Shortfin Barracuda will remain in service until the 2060s and will be updated and upgraded with new technology developed in France and Australia,” DCNS chief executive, Sean Costello said.

The submarine program is the largest part of a greater effort to revitalize Australia’s Navy. Under the Naval Shipbuilding Plan, Australia will also pour $35 billion into a Future Frigate Program and $3 billion into an Offshore Patrol Vessel program.

Tokyo questions Canberra’s submarine decision

Japan and Germany submitted unsuccessful bids for the contract and Tokyo has already expressed disappointment in Australian Government’s decision and requested an explanation.

The Japanese government has asked Australia to explain why it decided not to pick a Japanese design for a new fleet of submarines, choosing instead a proposal from France’s DCNS.

“The decision was deeply regrettable,” said Japan Defence Minister Gen Nakatani. “We will ask Australia to explain why they didn’t pick our design.”

However, Australian PM said the French bid “represented the capabilities best able to meet Australia’s unique needs”.