(Corrects date to Dec 20)
SYDNEY Dec 20 Australia and France formally
sealed an agreement on Tuesday under which French naval
contractor DCNS will build a new fleet of submarines, a deal
worth A$50 billion ($36.3 billion).
Australia selected DCNS in April as its preferred bidder to
build its fleet of 12 submarines, ahead of other offers from
Japan and Germany. The deal signed on Tuesday finalises one of
the world's most lucrative defence contracts.
"This is a critically important step in the development of
our security, in the assurance of our government in delivering
Australians the security and prosperity that they need,"
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.
Australia's new fleet of submarines is the centrepiece of
its defence strategy unveiled in February, which called for an
increase in military spending of nearly A$30 billion over the
next 10 years to protect strategic and trade interests in the
Australia rejected offers from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and
Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG when selecting DCNS.
Earlier this year, DCNS was 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,
leading to concerns about the company's ability to protect
Australian government ministers said they were certain of
maintaining the security of the new submarine fleet.
"We are continuing to invest in cyber security, which is a
major part of warfare into the future," Defence Industry
Minister Christopher Pyne said.
($1 = 1.3782 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta;
Editing by Paul Tait)