France loses contract of the century with Australia

Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States launched Wednesday, September 15, 2021 a new security partnership leading to the end of the contract linking France to Australia for the sale of submarines.

Submarines, a 56 billion euro sales contract

To face the Chinese threat and to secure the Indo-Pacific zone, the United States announced a new defense plan, the “AUKUS” plan. ” The first major initiative of “AUKUS” will be to deliver a fleet of nuclear powered submarines to Australia Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a videoconference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and United States President Joe Biden. This unprecedented announcement resulted in the immediate termination of a huge contract with France for the sale and delivery of conventional submarines.

The contract signed in 2016 between Australia and France was valued at 90 billion Australian dollars, that is to say 56 billion euros. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said this news was ” a decision contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of trust », In a joint press release from the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs. ” The American choice which leads to the removal of an ally and a European partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, marks an absence of coherence that France does not can only notice and regret Added the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A setback for the French defense industry

The “AUKUS” pact also includes collaboration between the three countries in cyber defense, quantum technologies and artificial intelligence. ” The decision we made not to continue with the Attack-class submarines and to take another path is not a change of mind, it is a change of need. “Said Scott Morrison, during the declaration which broke the contract which bound him to the French maritime defense company, Naval Group. For the French industrial group, it is a ” big disappointment “. ” The Commonwealth of Australia did not wish to initiate the next phase of the program, which is a great disappointment for Naval Group which offered Australia a conventional submarine of regional superiority with exceptional performance. The group said in a statement. He will not lose money and will negotiate termination conditions with Australia.

This geopolitical decision did not please everyone. China reacted by calling the creation of the defense group “AUKUS” linking Australia to the United States a completely irresponsible move. For its part, New Zealand, which has prohibited access to its territorial waters for any nuclear-powered vessel since 1985, has indicated that it will not lift this ban for its Australian neighbors.