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Australia buys 12 French Barracuda submarines

To replace its submarines dating back to the 1990s, Australia opted for the construction of 12 French ocean submarines. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian inked the inter-governmental agreement (IGA) in Adelaide that will see French shipbuilder DCNS design and build the Shortfin Barracudas (Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A). The total cost of the 12 submarines, including separate agreements with US and Australian contractors, will hit Aus $50 billion (34 Mds Euro). This contract would be the most important contract concluded by France with a foreign country.

Conventionnaly powered submarines
The vessels will be a scaled-down, conventionally-powered version of France's 4,700-tonne nuclear-fuelled Barracuda but boast the same stealth capabilities.Australia awarded DCNS the main contract in April, beating off competition from Germany TKMS (ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems) and Japan Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

"Home-made vessels" with French know-how and US weapons
The IGA is the last foundation stone needed to ensure Australia is able to develop a cutting-edge sovereign submarine capability, this will be a sovereign defence industry creating 2,800 jobs at the very cutting edge of technology. This was the sine qua non condition for winning the contract. And in France probably between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs will be perpetuated thanks to this contract. Design and mobilisation work has already been launched with Australian experts working in Cherbourg while DCNS was to open new offices in Adelaide later Tuesday employing up to 300 engineers.
US defence contractor Lockheed Martin was named in September to fit the combat systems for the Barracudas.

Geopolitical background
If Australia decides today to renew its fleet of submarines, it is because the Pacific has become one of the hotspots of the planet. The Chinese government claims several archipelagos of the region, multiplying the frictions with the riparian states that also dispute them, like Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan or Vietnam. For several months, with enormous operations of backfilling, Beijing transforms coral reefs into artificial islands to place new advanced bases at the disposal of the army. According to the Pentagon, also worried by these maneuvers, China would have gained more than 600 ha on the waters.

For President François Hollande, who said the contract is historic, the announcement "marks a decisive step forward in the strategic partnership between the two countries, which will cooperate over 50 years on the major element of sovereignty represented by sub-marine capacity ".