France has beaten Japan and Germany to win an Australian mega-deal to build a fleet of 12 new submarines in Australia, for the Australian Navy SEA 1000 program. The decision was formally announced by Australian Defense Minister Malcolm Turnbull today. The SEA 1000 program is the largest acquisition program in the history of Australian defense, representing an investment of around $50 billion. The submarines will replace the six Collins class submarines (Kockums’ Type 471 submarine) commissioned between 1996 and 2003. The lead ship of the Collins class is expected to retire by the early 2030s.
The Australian Government’s requirements addressed by the new design are superior sensor performance, stealth characteristics and range and endurance similar to the current Collins Class submarine.
Industry watchers had anticipated a decision to come later in the year, but Turnbull’s gamble on a July 2 general election sped up the process. The submarines selected for the Australian Navy are based on a diesel-electric version of the 4,200-tonne Barracuda nuclear-powered submarine designed by DCNS. The first Barracuda submarine is expected to be commissioned with the French Navy next year. Subject to discussions on commercial matters, the design of the Future Submarine with DCNS will begin this year.
The variant offered by DCNS is a conventionally powered diesel-electric design of the submarine – named ‘Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A’, a version of the Barracuda specially designed for the Australian Navy. The boat has a length of 94 meters, and displacement of 4,000 tons (when submerged), 200 tons lighter than the French Barracuda. It is designed as a sea-going submarine for long range and long endurance.