The federal government has announced that France, Germany and Japan will be invited to compete for the right to partner with Australia to develop the Future Submarine, under what promises to be largest defence procurement program in Australian history.
Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews stated that the “competitive evaluation process” is set to take about 10 months, and emphasised that interoperability with the US is a key consideration. “Defence advises that for Australian industry to have the best opportunity to maximise their involvement in the Future Submarine program, it needs to work with an international partner,” Minister Andrews stated on Friday.
“Based on work completed by Defence, France, Germany and Japan have emerged as potential international partners. All three countries have proven submarine design and build capabilities, and are currently producing submarines.”
The government has endorsed key strategic requirements for the Future Submarines including: range and endurance similar to the Collins class submarines; superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics; and combat system and heavyweight torpedo to be jointly developed by the US and Australia as the preferred combat system and main armament.
Minister Andrews said that Defence will be seeking proposals from the potential partners for pre-concept designs based on meeting Australian capability criteria; design and build overseas, in Australia, and/or hybrid approach options; approximate costs and schedules for each option; and positions on commercial issues such as intellectual property rights, and ability to use and disclose technical data.
“The process outlined by the government today provides a pathway for Australian industry to maximise its involvement in the program, whilst not compromising capability, cost, program schedule or risk,” he said. “The government expects that significant work will be undertaken in Australia during the build phase of the Future Submarine including combat system integration, design assurance and land-based testing. This will result in the creation of at least 500 new high-skill jobs in Australia, the majority of which will be based in South Australia.”
SEA 1000 represents an investment of about $50 billion. An advisory panel will be appointed to oversee the implementation of the Future Submarine program acquisition strategy.