News dalla rete ITA

25 Febbraio 2021

Australia

$90B FRENCH SUBMARINE PROJECT COULD SINK

top-level study ordered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the nation’s submarine program will look at how to terminate the $90 billion project with French government-owned shipbuilder Naval Group.   Although dumping the contract would risk a big diplomatic rift with France, defence industry sources said a potential resignation by Defence Minister Linda Reynolds might give the government the opportunity to reset the troubled submarine and frigate construction programs.   Naval Group’s Paris-based global chief, Pierre-Eric Pommellet, on his first visit to Australia as chief executive, is under immediate pressure from the government to make good on a promise to spend 60 per cent of its contract value with local suppliers and repair what is a toxic working relationship between the Defence Department and Naval Group.   Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price laid down the law to Mr Pommellet that a clear commitment to Australian capability and industrial involvement was an “absolute necessity” for the government.   “It was made clear to Mr Pommellet that it is critically important for Australian companies to be an integral part of the future submarine supply chain. This is important for Australian jobs, the broader economy and our industrial sovereignty,” she told The Australian Financial Review.   “Drawing on my extensive legal experience as a construction lawyer, I reminded Mr Pommellet that the finer details of a contract matter. The Morrison government will hold Naval Group to account on this commitment, as the Australian public would expect.”   The Financial Review revealed on Wednesday that a frustrated Mr Morrison had tasked two senior naval officers, including a three-star admiral, to examine options for the submarine program.   It is understood the study will look at the long-range conventional powered submarine that Swedish shipbuilder Saab Kockums has offered the Dutch navy. It can trace its lineage back to the original Collins submarines built for Australia.   It will also examine how to get out of the contract with Naval Group, if the relationship continues to deteriorate. The government would be liable for a €90 million ($138 million) break fee if it terminated the contract now, but this would rise to €250 million under the next contract phase.   The options study will also look at how quickly a shift could be made to bring in Saab Kockums, how it would tap into local supply chains, and the involvement of the Australian government-owned shipbuilder ASC. It is not expected to canvass reopening the door to the German and Japanese bidders that missed out in 2016.   While Naval Group’s first boat – which is based on re-engineering a nuclear-powered design – for Australia is scheduled to enter service in the mid-2030s, the Dutch navy is being promised its first two submarines by Saab in 2027-28.   The government is reluctant to go to the extreme step of tearing up the contract with Naval Group because it would have effectively wasted $1.7 billion and five years on the project, and is more focused on improving the working relationship.   It would also damage relations with France after Australia had spent recent years cultivating closer ties with a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and significant holder of territories in the Indo-Pacific as part of its strategy of building regional alliances as a check to China.  (ICE SYDNEY)


Fonte notizia: AFR