PARIS — DCNS filed a draft proposal at the end of September and aims to submit a final offer at the end of November in Australia's tender for a new class of attack submarines, reported to be worth Aus $50 billion (US $36.3 billion), a spokesperson for the French naval shipbuilder said.

Technology transfer will be part of the French offer of the concept vessel Shortfin Barracuda, a diesel-electric version of the Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine being built for the French Navy.

"The transfer of technology will be complete, to allow Australia to meet its objective of sovereignty and independence," the DCNS spokesperson said.

Australia's Sea 1000 project to replace the Collins submarines has attracted competing bids from DCNS, a Japanese offer from Mitsubishi Heavy Industry and Kawasaki Shipbuilding, and German specialist ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The tender is for six to 12 units.

A selection is expected by the middle of 2016, the spokesperson said.

Among the key factors in the competitive evaluation process: technical performance of the subs, including stealth and undersea autonomy; integration of a US combat system; and local sustainability, including maintenance for some 50 years.

Australia will hold a tender for the combat system, with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon competing for a deal worth some $4 billion, website reported.

A major requirement is setting out the three options of building the subs offshore, onshore, and on a hybrid basis, with the latter consisting of a mix of building units abroad and in Australia.

An offshore construction is seen as highly unlikely, given strong political pressure to generate local jobs.

DCNS, which opened an office in Australia last year, proposes to create 2,900 local jobs if the French offer is picked.

The French shipbuilder is offering an initial block 1A version of the Shortfin in a government-to-government deal, with upgrades to block 1B, 1C and future standards, underpinning a pitch for a long-term bilateral relationship with Australia.

DCNS has brought the Barracuda program under control after earlier running into problems of lateness and cost overrun, the spokesman said. The company has gone through a reorganization, including appointing last October a new Barracuda program director last October. A first delivery of the Barracuda is still expected to be in 2017 but some six months later than previously scheduled.

French Ambassador Christophe Lacourtier said in Canberra on Tuesday there was a commitment "to build in this country a sovereign and autonomous [submarine] industry," Australian Financial Review reported.

DCNS is offering a Shortfin version 97 meters long and weighing 4,500 tons, compared with the Barracuda's 99 meters and 4,700 tons, the spokesperson said.

The total program cost is reported to be $20 billion for building and $30 billion for maintenance.

The Japanese offer, seen as the favored candidate under the previous Australian government, is based on the operational Soryu. The submarine offered to Australia was named Zero, but that name was reported to be dropped after the unwelcome connection to World War II the Second World War was pointed out.

TKMS has pitched a version of the Type 214. All three bidders are reported to have offered technology transfer.

Saab Kockums is proposing a midlife upgrade of the Collins submarines as Australia has excluded the Swedish company from the competition.

Thales, which holds 35 percent of DCNS, is a specialist in sonar systems and has large business interests in Australia. The Australian government said on Oct. 5 it had awarded Thales a $1.3 billion contract to supply the Hawkei protected vehicle to the Australian Defence Force. France holds 65 percent of DCNS.


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