Sydney, Australia, Sep 16 (EFE).- Canberra on Thursday announced it was to scrap a AU$90 billion ($66 billion) French submarine deal hours after Australia entered a historic defense pact with the United States and the United Kingdom to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
Announced earlier Thursday, the so-called AUKUS alliance is aimed at countering China in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The pursuit of nuclear-powered submarine technology means that Australia will no longer proceed with the Attack class conventional submarine program with Naval Group,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
He thanked the Naval Group, the French government and Lockheed Martin Australia for their efforts and explained that the decision to cancel the project with France is based on the fact that “accelerating changes to regional security make conventional submarines unsuited to our operational needs in the decades ahead.”
The project for the construction of 12 French-designed submarines, which had suffered multiple delays and issues, had been awarded to Naval Group, then known as DCNS, in 2016.
Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra that he had already notified the Naval Group and the French government of his decision, adding that “France remains an incredibly important partner in the Pacific.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly slammed the decision in a joint statement, saying that it “is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia.”
Meanwhile, Naval Group expressed its “disappointment” at the decision, considering that it offered Australia “a regionally superior conventional submarine with exceptional performances” to make the country “a sovereign submarine capability making unrivaled commitments in terms of technology transfer, jobs and local content.”
Australia now intends to build nuclear submarines in the city of Adelaide under the AUKUS agreement in collaboration with the US and the US, although details such as the cost of the project are still unknown. EFE