SYDNEY Australia and France are to sign a deal on Tuesday allowing French naval contractor DCNS to build a new fleet of submarines for Australia, said Australia's defence minister, in a deal worth 50 billion Australian dollars ($36.4 billion).
"The contract will set out the legal framework under which Australia and France will partner on the future submarine programme over the coming decades." Australian defence minister Marise Payne told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
Payne added that the deal represented "a critical milestone in delivering the regionally superior fleet of submarines."
Earlier this year, DCNS had been left reeling after details from more than 22,000 pages of documents relating to submarines it is building for India were published in The Australian newspaper, sparking concerns about the company's ability to protect sensitive data.
The Australian government said at the time that it had asked DCNS to take new security measures in Australia.
($1 = 1.3751 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)