PARIS — DCNS has warmly greeted Australia's signing of a design contract with the French naval shipbuilder and choice of Lockheed Martin for its partner on the Barracuda Shortfin 1A, a planned ocean-going attack submarine.

"DCNS welcomes the signature of the first operational contract for the Australian Future Submarine Program and the selection of Lockheed Martin as the program combat system integrator," the French company said in a statement Thursday.

The signing of the design and mobilization contract allows the program to be set up, the start of developement and coordination with the US and local partners, DCNS said. No value was given on the contract.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announced Thursday the contract and selection of Lockheed Martin over a reported rival bid from Raytheon.

The Australian announcement was a "first key step in a long term partnership with France in the strategic area of submarines," French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement Thursday.

DCNS is 35 percent held by Thales, an electronics specialist with key sonar technology.

"DCNS is looking forward to a strategic and sustainable partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia, Lockheed Martin and Australian industry," said Hervé Guillou, DCNS chairman and CEO. "This contract will allow DCNS to commence the initial phase of Australia's Future Submarine."

That Australia sealed the deal with DCNS could be seen as setting aside security concerns sparked by the leak to Australian media of technical information on the Scorpene submarine being built for India.

Paris supported DCNS, which beat bids from German rival ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Japanese partners Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, backed by Tokyo.

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