European Defence industry sails into South Australia

Over three years have elapsed since the ‘Contract of the Century’ between France and Australia was awarded for the design and build of 12 Attack class submarines in Adelaide, Australia.

The $50 billion Future Submarine Program between the Australian Government and French company Naval Group will an see unprecedented transfer of technology between European companies and Australian industry to establish a sovereign naval shipbuilding capability.

Since the initial announcement, the two partners have been intensely occupied in the detailed negotiations needed to set out the principles of cooperation in the historic program. As these detailed discussions progress and the design of the Attack class submarine advances, a range of significant contracts have been awarded.

The major contracts to date include Babcock for the procurement of the Weapon Discharge System, Jeumont Electric in France for the design of the Main Electric Propulsion Equipment and Schneider Electric France for the Main Direct Current (DC) Switchboards.

Australian companies are lining up to bid for a range of work packages as part of the subcontracts and are seeking expertise from overseas companies to ensure their products and services meet the stringent requirements.

John Rees, Trade and Investment Director at the Office of the Agent General, is working alongside Defence SA and the Industry Capability Network (ICN) to connect and support UK and European companies seeking investment opportunities in South Australia.

“This is an exciting time for Defence in South Australia. Contracts are being awarded and opportunities for investment are abundant,” said John Rees.

The Future Submarine Project will span 50 years, but Rees says that overseas companies wanting to be a part of the project need to engage now.

“The reality is UK and European companies interested in bidding for work need to be looking for Australian partners and subsequently developing an Australia Industry Capability Plan in order to pre-qualify for contracts. We can help with that.”

“International suppliers have the unique opportunity to become part of an Australian supply chain by connecting with Australian industry.”

This is already coming to fruition with Germany’s MTU partnering with Australian supplier Penske Power Systems to design the diesel generator rectifier for the Attack Class submarines.

The design of Australia’s Future Submarine will be based on the Barracuda class submarine, which is the latest addition to the French fleet. The first in class was launched at a milestone event in July at Naval Group’s shipyard in Cherbourg, France.

The Attack class submarines are part of Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan first outlined in the 2016 White Paper which includes 12 submarines, nine frigates and two Offshore Patrol Vessels to be built in Adelaide.

Work is underway on the Type 26 Frigates with BAE Systems releasing Requests for Information (RFIs) from local and international companies through the ICN gateway.

Opportunities for suppliers wanting to be a part of the project are progressing quickly with the first metal due to be cut before the end of 2020.

If your company is looking to engage in the growing Defence industry in South Australia, get in touch with John Rees to discuss investment opportunities in the Defence state.

Image: Naval Group