SYDNEY — Three international bidders are seeking a contract worth up to Aus$50 billion ($36.13 billion) to build a next-generation submarine fleet for Australia, it was confirmed Monday.
Submissions have been received from DCNS of France, TKMS of Germany, and the Japanese government, Australia’s Defense Minister Marise Payne announced as the deadline closed.
The contract is to replace the nation’s current diesel and electric-powered Collins Class submarines. Besides matching their range and endurance, the next generation of subs is expected to offer superior sensor performance and stealth capabilities.
The tender process has been politically sensitive, with Canberra keen to maximize Australian industry involvement and jobs. There are fears that any off-the-shelf purchase could kill off the domestic shipbuilding industry.
Payne said in a statement the assessment of the bids “will include the level of Australian industry involvement that will be possible under each option.”
In Tokyo, a defense ministry official said Japan’s proposal includes plans to build the submarines in Australia. The official said Tokyo was “confident” its bid would win but disclosed no details.
During his visit to Australia earlier in November, Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said picking Tokyo could help ensure maritime security in the Asia-Pacific. He alluded to the importance of regional allies such as the United States, Japan and Australia working together in the face of China’s growing military might.
Nakatani added that if Japan were chosen, it would be a “model for strategic cooperation between Australia, U.S. and Japan.”
For Australia, however, cooperation with Japan — whose Soryu is widely seen as the best submarine of its type — risks angering its biggest trading partner China. The French and German bidders have also said they would build a large part or all of the new submarines in Australia.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015