WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Japan's Ministry of Defense will submit a proposal to the Australian government to construct submarines and train engineers at local shipyards.
The proposal outlines a plan supporting Australia's construction of Japan's Soryu-class submarine, a leading bid for the Royal Australian Navy's requirement for Future submarines. The Soryu class is Japan's first air-independent propulsion submarine, which allows the vessel to stay submerged for longer periods of time.
A spokesman for the Japanese MoD confirmed to IHS Janes the proposal is one of three options Japan is submitting to the Australian government, which is in the process of selecting a platform to replace RAN's existing Collins-class submarines under the SEA 1000 program. Selection is due by 2016.
"In relation to collaboration on the Australian submarines the Australian government has requested us to study three options: build in Australia, build in Japan and a hybrid option, to build in Australia and Japan," the spokesman said.
Masaaki Ishikawa, the Defense Ministry's director for acquisition reform for the, told The Guardian the Japanese government is also willing to train Australian engineers to maintain the Japanese vessels. The proposal marks the first time Japan has expressed interest in building stealth submarines entirely in Australia.
Japan has been the Australian government's frontrunner for replacing the aging Collins-class submarines. Should the proposal go through, Japan will receive a $20 billion contract which includes a decades-long maintenance program.