Japan, the onetime front-runner for the massive contract to build Australia's new submarine fleet in partnership with Australian industry under the so-called SEA 1000 Future Submarine Program, failed in its bid to assemble the boats.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday that French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS) will be awarded the contract — Australia's largest defense deal ever — to build 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A subs, a diesel-electric derivative of DCNS' Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, for the Royal Australian Navy.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani appeared bewildered over Australia's decision. "We will ask Australia to explain why they didn't pick our design," he said, according to Reuters.