In a stunning reversal of fortunes, Japan — the onetime front-runner in the multibillion-dollar tender to build Australia's next-generation submarine — failed in its bid to assemble the vessels, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday.

Turnbull said the submarines will be built in Australia by France's state-controlled naval contractor DCNS.

"Defence Department experts were unequivocal — the French offer best represented the capabilities needed to meet Australia's unique needs," Turnbull said at a news conference.