Australia signs contract to build 12 submarines

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Canberra: The Australian government on Monday announced the signing of a A$50 billion ($35 billion) agreement with the French Naval Group for the construction of its new fleet of 12 Attack class submarines.

In a “defining moment for the country”, the submarines “will help protect Australia’s security and prosperity for decades to come and also deepen the defence relationship between Australia and France”, a joint government statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo said.

The statement said the submarines, which will be designed and built in Australia for the Navy, will generate an average of 2,800 jobs, reports Efe news.

The Australian government is committed to maximising “local industry” involvement in the programme and “to ensure Australians get the most out of this important national investment”, it added.

It is expected to take more than 10 years for the first submarine to be ready.

Australia decided in 2016 that the French Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS) would be responsible for the construction of its new submarine fleet after a tender, but it did not sign the contract until recently, after months of negotiations.

The work on the submarines has taken place under the Design and Mobilisation Contract which will continue under the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

The announcement coincides with China’s growing civil and military presence in the South China Sea and the concern in the region about free navigation in the main passage between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

(Agencies)