Aussie Sub Deal: Japan To Share Tech, US Clearance Hinders French Bid

  • Our Bureau
  • 10:24 AM, February 8, 2016
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Aussie Sub Deal: Japan To Share Tech, US Clearance Hinders French Bid
Japanese Soryu class submarine

Japan is ready to share its secret stealth technology if it wins Australian Aus$50 billion (US$36 billion) contract to design and build next generation of submarines.

France has lost significance in the submarine deal amid fears from US that DCNS might not be able to protect highly sensitive US military secrets.

“It is of major importance to us that we will be sharing this secret technology with Australia,” Japan’s State Minister of Defence Kenji Wakamiya was quoted as saying by The Australian, news daily Monday.

“Please also recognise that this decision was based on Japan seeing Australia as a very important partner,” Wakamiya said. “And I believe that a joint project to build the new submarine would contribute greatly to maritime safety in this region.”

Japan is offering to build a new Soryu with its hull extended six to eight metres (20 to 26 feet) to carry more batteries and fuel to take account of the massive distances the Australian navy travels.

The French on the other hand is believed to have lost ground over concerns of military secret and technology ‘leakage’.

“France is in Nato, the politics are delicate and it is true that US weapons have been integrated on to French vessels before,” Financial Times news daily quoted an unnamed person involved in Pentagon procurement issues as saying. “But with technology this advanced there is real discomfort within the US military about putting it on a French boat.”

DCNS Australia Chief Executive, Sean Costello dismissed the suggestion the French offer would be affected by security concerns. “DCNS is France’s sovereign provider of naval technology and has proven systems and procedures in place that protect the sensitive information already provided by Australia,” FT quoted Costello as saying.

DCNS in December last year had offered the Australian Government complete access to the stealth technologies utilised on board French nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarines (SSNs) and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).

“The very nature of these stealth technologies and the decision to release them to the Australian Government is a significant demonstration of the strategic nature of this program for the French authorities,” DCNS had said in a press statement on December 15 last year.

The United States will be responsible for supplying integrated combat systems to the Future Submarines, as well as the submarine’s weapons.

DCNS will present three strategies to build Australia’s future submarines: The first option is to start the project in France and build all the submarines in Cherbourg, France. The second option combines the capacity of two shipyards, one in France and one in Adelaide. The third option is to start the project in Australia and build all the submarines in Adelaide.

Each option has different costs and benefits, and ultimately the choice of how the submarines will be built is a decision for the Australian Government to make, DCNS had said.

DCNS is pitching Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A submarine and offers to customize it as per the needs of the Australian Royal Navy.

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), France’s DCNS and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-Kawasaki Heavy Industries submitted bids to build Australia’s new submarines fleet in November last year.

Supporting the ThyssenKrupp bid, the German government had offered Australia unprecedented access to secret Germany naval technology and offering to have the German government itself to audit the company's costing for the Australian submarines to ensure Australian taxpayers get value for money.

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