France wants to beat Japan and build submarines for Australia
While touring an Adelaide shipyard, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian revealed his government hoped to forge an enhanced relationship with Australia should its proposal beat out rival bids.
France is currently in direct competition with Japan and Germany to construct the fleet of underwater vessels, in what is presently the biggest defense contract up for grabs in the world.
"We want to contribute something to Australia to help it guarantee its own security by offering these high-tech submarines," Le Drian told reporters on Tuesday.
"It would form part of a truly strategic partnership with Australia, based here in Adelaide," he added.
Le Drian said French-built submarines, known for their long-range capabilities, would offer a strategic advantage over the rival bids.
He also said the potential collaboration could prove mutually beneficial for both countries, fostering the exchange of new-age, high-tech information that would "strengthen the industrial fabric" of Australia.
Japan have been frequently cited as the front-runner to win the contract. However, reports in the Australian media suggest the demotion of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has helped France's pitch as Abbott heavily favored Japan's bid.
A competitive process is under way with the winner set to be announced this year. ■