Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews has moved to allay fears about the likely level of Australian industry involvement in the Future Submarine program, while making it clear that he believes maintenance work can be done in Australia even if the submarines are built overseas.
In a speech at the Sub Summit in Adelaide, he said that a significant amount of work will be undertaken in Australia during the SEA 1000 build phase, but only guaranteed that this work will include at least combat system integration, design assurance and land-based testing.
“Now I acknowledge that in recent times there has been some anxiety about the Future Submarine program,” Minister Andrews said. “This is why I announced the acquisition strategy in February to provide a pathway for Australian industry to maximise its involvement in the program, whilst not compromising capability, cost, program schedule or risk. The government supports local industry and recognises how valuable it is to our nation.”
MINDEF announced that officials from Defence and the Department of Industry and Science, as well as state government representatives and defence industry groups, have agreed to the SEA 1000 Industrial Engagement Strategy, including the formation of the State and Industry Association Consultative Group.
“The SEA 1000 Industrial Engagement Strategy involves the members of this group working together with the common aim of providing competitive Australian companies with meaningful opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and skills to international partners,” he explained.
“The strategy includes bimonthly meetings to monitor progress against planned activities that include: preparation sessions for Australian industry, the development of company profiles to be provided to international partners, a schedule of interactions between the partners and state-based organisations, and visits by the partners to states across Australia to meet with company representatives and visit facilities.”
Minister Andrews outlined the federal government’s acquisition strategy for the Future Submarine program on February 20, saying that France, Germany and Japan would be invited to participate in the “competitive evaluation process” in order to assess their ability to partner with Australia.
Activities arranged under the auspices of the SEA 1000 Industrial Engagement Strategy will commence in early April with briefings for major companies operating in Australia.
“The engagements between international partners and industry will be scheduled to complement the development of their pre-concept designs, allowing timely judgements of how to best involve Australian capabilities and skills in their proposals,” MINDEF said in his speech at the Sub Summit.
“Importantly, there is agreement on the need for a coordinated and consultative approach to the engagement, which offers international partners full visibility of how Australian industry can support the project and maximise Australian industrial involvement.”
All three of the potential partners will need to undertake significant redesign work on their existing submarines, presenting opportunities for Australian industry involvement, he added.