French PM to oversee Australian sub deal


CANBERRA: A mega deal to build Australian submarines was so important, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Monday, that he pledged to personally supervise the project as Paris and Canberra bolster defense ties.

French contractor DCNS last week beat off competition from Japan and Germany to seal the 12-submarine Aus$50 billion ($39 billion) contract, prompting Valls to make a surprise visit to Canberra.

“I will supervise, myself, the implementation of our commitments with the minister of defense who will be coming shortly to Australia,” Valls told a press conference with Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull.

“It is an industrial and economic partnership. It is also a partnership that binds us for a very long time on other issues, including security and defence,” he added.

Valls said it was a “win-win” deal, adding that Paris would fulfill all its commitments including job creation in Australia and the transfer of technology.

DCNS plans to build a 4,500-tonne conventionally-powered version of its 4,700-ton Barracuda, which the company has described as “the most technically complex artifact in Australia.”

The DCNS website says the new vessel would be “the recipient of France’s most sensitive and protected submarine technology and will be the most lethal conventional submarine ever contemplated.”

A Japanese government-backed consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and German group ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, were also in the running. But Canberra said DCNS was considered “best to meet all of our unique capability requirements.”



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