Australia inks submarine deal with FranceWorld | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE Feb 12, 2019
Australia formally signed a A$50 billion (HK$278.29 billion) "strategic partnership" with France to build 12 state of the art submarines yesterday, a signal of Canberra's willingness to project power across the Pacific. Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the "very audacious plan" at a ceremony in Canberra as part of Australia's biggest peace-time investment in defense. The partnership's main pillar is a contract for France's Naval Group - a consortium with state backing - to build 12 attack-class submarines and has been years in the making. It is Australia's largest defense procurement project and the largest foreign sales deal by French shipbuilder Naval Group. The first submarine is expected to be finished in the early 2030s, starting with trials in the first quarter of 2031 and operational testing in late 2032. Critics say that is too late: the waters to Australia's north and east are where the United States, China and regional powers, are all vying for influence. Australian military analysts hope the subs will allow the country to maintain a credible deterrent against possible hostile actions. Under the Strategic Partnership Agreement, 12 conventionally powered submarines derived from the Naval Group Barracuda nuclear design will be constructed in a new shipyard in South Australia.