France is prepared to share its stealth and other sensitive submarine technology with Australia as part of the country’s push to be selected as the international partner for the Future Submarine program.
DCNS group chairman Hervé Guillou told Australian Defence Business Review’s Pacific 2015 Show Daily that the company’s bid for SEA 1000 is fully supported by the French government at the highest levels and includes the potential for sharing of information with the Australian government in areas such as stealth and propulsion systems.
“The strategic alliance is for the long term and it is [not only] operational, government-to-government in terms of safety and program management but also on technology for sharing French to Australian eyes only,” Guillou said at Pacific 2015 on Tuesday.
DCNS is putting forward what it calls the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A for the Future Submarine program competitive evaluation process.
DCNS Australia chief executive officer Sean Costello explains that the company has been asked to prepare proposals for two different build models, and emphasised that DCNS is not expressing a preference: “What we have discovered in planning the program is because we have existing facilities and a workforce in France building a Barracuda class submarine, that same facility, that same workforce, that same know-how can be brought to bear to build the first boat in France more quickly and at a lower overall program cost.”
Under the DCNS hybrid build model, the first two Future Submarines would be built in France with the third in the class onwards constructed in Australia.
Costello says: “The other option is to do everything in Australia – the same technical transfer program, same workforce.”
The overseas build option appears to have fallen out of favour with the Australian customer.
If successful, DCNS says that as the international partner for SEA 1000 it would help create 2,900 full-time equivalent jobs in the Australian submarine yard with the combat system integrator and the supply chain immediately supplying the yard.
Costello adds: “In the hybrid model we get in an eight-boat program to more than 70 per cent of Australian industry involvement. If we do all the boats here we can get over 90 per cent Australian industry involvement.”