Sydney (AFP) – Australia on Friday said France, Germany and Japan were potential partners to design and build its next generation of submarines, in what will be its biggest ever defence procurement programme.
As Canberra seeks to replace its ageing Collins Class fleet, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said all three countries had proven military design and build capabilities and were currently producing submarines.
“France, Germany and Japan have emerged as potential international partners,” he said, adding that any future system’s ability to work in sync with US military technology a “fundamental consideration.”
The current diesel and electric-powered Collins Class submarines are set to be retired from about 2026 onwards, with the project to replace them worth about Aus$50 billion (US$39 billion).
The Australian military confirmed last month that it was in talks with Japan and others but this is the first time it has narrowed down the countries it would invite to bid on the project.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters building a submarine was “a very complex business,” explaining why a joint venture with an international partner was preferred.