Australia and France’s Naval Group finalized and signed a $35 billion submarine partnership agreement on Monday to deliver 12 new vessels to Australia.

In 2016, Australia’s Department of Defense chose Naval Group as its preferred bidder to build 12 new attack-class submarines to replace the current six Collins-class submarine fleet. Doubling the submarine fleet is part of the government’s 2016 Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

Naval group and Australian officials sign submarine deal
Australian and French officials at the signing of the Future Submarine Program Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA) between Australia and France’s Naval Group. Signatories included French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly (center), Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (to her right), and Australian Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne (third from right).

Naval Group is a private company in which the French government holds a 62 percent stake.

This new agreement, finalized in the Australian capital of Canberra, is called the Future Submarine Program Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA). It was signed by Australian prime Minister Scott Morrison, Minister for Defense Christopher Pyne, and French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly.

Construction of the first vessel is due to start in the early 2020s and enter into service in the 2030s. Construction of all 12 submarines is expected to last through the 2040s.

The SPA sets out principles of cooperation between Australia and Naval Group. The project will not only build 12 new submarines but also plans to deliver new technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities to Australia, create thousands of new jobs, and provide long-term planning certainty for companies involved n the domestic naval industry.

“This agreement with Australia will see Naval Group transfer the ‘know-how’ and ‘know-why’ to Australia to become an sovereign submarine nation,” Herve Guillou, chairman and CEO of the Naval Group, said in a statement.

“We are very excited about the opportunities that lay ahead of us and are committed to delivering the Future Submarine Program for Australia,” he added.

Work for the new submarines started in 2017 when the Australian Defense Ministry helped open a submarine design office in Cherbourg, France with Naval Group and Lockheed Martin [LMT] (Defense Daily, July 10, 2017).

While Naval Group is the prime design partner, Lockheed Martin [LMT] Australia serves as combat system integrator.

The design phase will later transition to construction at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, Australia.

Naval Group noted early stages of the submarine work have been finished in Cherbourg, including pre-sizing of the submarine. In addition, the feasibility study phase of the future submarine design contract was completed in France and initial work started at the Future Submarine construction yard in Adelaide.

The feasibility study ensures the submarine meets functionality, scheduling, and cost requirements.

The company notes transfer of technology to Australia has also begun with the relocation of the first group of Australian engineers from France to complete the detailed design of the vessel. The next group of engineers will leave France in March.

Naval Group said suppliers of the top five pieces of technology (main motor, diesel generator, switchboards, batteries, and weapons discharge systems) have been reviewed and will be announced later this year.