Australia will renew its aging Collins-class submarine fleet, the Australian newspaper said on Friday, as doubts about the Canberra deal of $ 50 billion ($ 38.8 billion) for 12 new submarines built by French shipbuilder Naval Group.
In 2016, Australia chose the Naval Group to build a new submarine fleet to replace its more than two-decade-old Collins submarines and significantly expand its military to protect strategic and trade interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
As a result, Australian defense officials said until last month that they were undertaking “contingency planning”.
Raising further doubts about the deal with the Naval Group, the Australian reported that Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton would order the redevelopment of existing Collins-class submarines.
“Obviously there were problems with the arrangements with the Naval Group,” Dutton told The Australian.
“There are concerns about both programs on both sides and I need to make sure we have the best capacity we have.”
The Australian first discussed the replacement of the troubled Collins-class submarines nearly a decade ago. The Collins submarines had to retire over the next few years.
The first of six Australian Collins-class submarines reached the end of its life in 2026. This is a few years before the first of the new fleet, a diesel-electric version of Naval Group’s 5,000-tonne Barracuda nuclear submarine, is scheduled to be delivered. The final new submarine will start operating in the 2050s.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron next week and the two are expected to discuss the submarine deal.
($ 1 = A $ 1.2900)
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