Will Australia cancel contract for 12 Naval Group Shortfin Barracuda submarines?

The information sounds like a bomb, and has yet to be officially confirmed. Corn according to the site abc.net.au, the Australian government would have taken the decision to cancel the contract awarded to the French Naval Group for the design and local construction of 12 Shortfin Barracuda conventionally powered submarines. According to the site, Canberra has indeed decided to develop, to replace its Swedish-made Collins class submarines, nuclear-powered submarines, relying on an American-British partnership in the matter for transfers. of technology.

This would surely be news with serious consequences for the French shipbuilder who had made this contract for more than 15 years and $ 50 billion, the pillar of its development strategy on the international scene. According to the site, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, would have tried to reach the French President Emmanuel Macron to inform him of the news, but not having been able to reach him on Wednesday, the telephone meeting would have been placed for this Thursday. . There is no doubt that the French president will appreciate hearing the news through the press.

The replacement of the Collins-class submarines has been one of the most controversial topics in Australian politicians in recent months

That being said, Australia's choice of a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines is far from absurd. It would even have been probably preferable to base the initial SEA 1000 competition on this criterion from its launch, having regard to the increasing and foreseeable tensions linked to the increase in Chinese naval power, as well as to the very important distances to be covered for submersibles. from Canberra. On the other hand, nobody could ignore, in Australia, that the Shortfin was a model derived from the French SNA class Suffren, undoubtedly the most powerful and modern nuclear attack submarine of the moment, and it had In this case, it was possible to transform the contract with Naval Group and the French authorities in this direction.

In reality, the choice of Naval Group was the target of many detractors in Australia, and this as soon as it is announced. Thus, the Labor opposition had made this contract one of the privileged targets of its communication for several years, just like several journalists sometimes clearly under the influence. Despite its efforts, and once again if the information were to be officially confirmed (it would not be the first time that the Australian press would have been carried away on this subject), it seems that Naval Group has never succeeded in convincing the Australian public opinion, little helped it is true by the episodes around the Tiger helicopter and more recently the NH-90.

With the Suffren class, Naval Group has the most modern nuclear attack submarine available today. However, Canberra seems to want to turn to its British and American partners in this area.

For now, therefore, we must be careful, and wait for confirmations or official denials before deciding. The article by abc only mentions indirect arguments, even if they all seem to converge. If new data comes to light, we will add it in this article.

PS1: According to Politico, Joe Biden will soon announce a joint effort with the United Kingdom to assist Australia in the design of an ANS fleet, and to transfer the necessary technologies.

PS2: The information is now taken up by most Australian news sites, leaving little doubt as to its veracity.

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