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Australia, France sign defense information-sharing treaty

By Ryan Maass
Australia, France sign defense information-sharing treaty
Australia plans to use its Future Submarine Program to replace its aging fleet of Collins-class submarines. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James R. Evans/U.S. Navy

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Defense chiefs from France and Australia have signed an agreement to share classified information supporting work on Australia's Future Submarine Program.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement by French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and Australian Attorney General George Brandis. The two government officials say the cooperation will support deliveries in addition to enabling greater collaboration on national security matters.

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Under the terms of the treaty, the countries will share information on classification equivalences and handling requirements. The agreement also allocates responsibilities for contractors involved with the program.

French shipbuilding company DCNS signed its first operational contract for the Australian Future Submarine Program in September as part of an effort to improve the country's naval combat capabilities.

The Future Submarine Program, also known as SEA1000, is part of the Australian government's effort to replace its aging fleet of Collins-class submarines.

The country estimates contracts related to the project represent a $37 billion national security investment, making it the largest defense procurement program in Australia's history.

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