Collins class submarine. Image from Flickr, courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy.

Collins class submarine. Image from Flickr, courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy.

SDSC experts discuss Australia's submarine announcement

25 April 2016

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that French company DCNS has been chosen as preferred partner for Australia’s next fleet of submarines ahead of competitors from Germany and Japan.

The submarines will be built in Adelaide with the contract expected to generate 2,800 jobs.

The Australian National University (ANU) has experts available for comment.

They can be contacted directly, or through the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979.

Stephan Fruehling, Associate Professor, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

“By selecting a French bidder to build its next fleet of submarines, Australia is entering a long-term relationship with the only Western country that designs and builds both conventional and nuclear-powered submarines.

“Since the survival of a large part of France’s nuclear arsenal hinges on the survival of its submarines, Australia’s new partner is committed to remaining at the forefront of submarine technology.”

Raoul Heinrichs - Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs

“The Government’s decision to award the Future Submarine contract to a French company is a big deal. Technically, the project will be Australia’s most expensive and exacting defence acquisition.

“Politically, it is a sharp repudiation of the preferences of the former Abbott Government. Strategically, it is likely to open the government to criticisms of snubbing Japan to deferring to China.”

Dr David Brewster - ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre

“The selection of the French DCNS as the winning bidder should be seen as a decision to give priority to capability, cost and risk reduction over broader strategic factors which favoured the Japanese bid.

“That may give Australia the best submarines, but it also means that we need to give much more active focus to engaging with Japan as our key regional security partner in the Pacific. In the long term that is probably of greater importance to us than the submarines.”

Professor Rory Medcalf - Head of the National Security College, Crawford School of Public Policy

“At last we have certainty on Australia’s future submarine program. This affirms that Australia is serious about building up a deterrent to protect its interests in this contested Indo-Pacific century. It is not an outcome to please China.

“Of course Japan’s failure to secure the deal means there will be some damage to relations with Tokyo, so we need to take the initiative now to assure the Japanese that a close strategic partnership is about more than submarines. We need to go the extra mile now in finding other areas of substantial defence technology cooperation with Japan.

“The Australian Government has recognised France as the best option in terms of capability - the challenge now is to ensure that this is much more than a commercial deal, that it is also a partnership of deep strategic trust.

“We have broadly convergent security interests with France, so this could be the start of a new antipodean entente, covering everything from counter-terrorism to advanced defence technology.”

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