The government has enlisted Toshiba Corp. to help it try to win Asia's biggest defense contract, a $36 billion deal to build a dozen submarines for Australia, three sources said.

Toshiba is considering building a factory in Australia to make lithium-ion batteries to power the vessels, according to the sources, who are familiar with the plan but not authorized to talk to the media.

The potential investment, which is contingent on Canberra picking the Japanese design, is part of an incentive package promising commercial and defense sector work beyond the submarine program, aimed at winning over politicians who want to boost job numbers in Australia.