Australian sub procurement race involving Japan, France, Germany intensifies


A race among Japan, Germany and France for an Australian government project to develop a next-generation submarine is becoming even fiercer.

Canberra is expected to choose its partner for the project around the middle of this year. The Australian government plans to construct eight to 12 new submarines to replace its aging Collins-class submarines.

Shunichi Miyanaga, president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which heads the Japanese consortium, is visiting Australia to promote the Soryu-class diesel submarine of the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

In talks with reporters in Sydney on Thursday, Miyanaga emphasized that the Japanese submarine has been used for a long period of time and matches the need of the Australian government, which plans to procure a 4,000-ton-class diesel submarine.

The reliability and high level of technology of the Soryu-class submarine have already been confirmed, he said.

French companies participating in the submarine race are proposing transforming a nuclear submarine into a diesel submarine, while German firms are planning to remake a small submarine into a larger one, although some experts have pointed out that these measures involve technological risks.

But the German team has know-how on exports and overseas production of weapons, saying that full local production in Australia will be possible.

The French companies also promised local production and even proposed supplying their secret stealth technology to Australia.

Meanwhile, the Japanese consortium is trying to dispel the impression that it is cautious about local production. Miyanaga said that the Japanese team can flexibly meet the requests from the Australian side.

Mitsubishi Heavy has run a full-page ad in The Australian, a national newspaper, as part of its promotion campaign. The ad, which came with a photo of a Soryu-class submarine sailing on the sea, reads, “Sharing technology for a more secure Australia.”