CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Australia and France signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on Tuesday to establish a framework for development of Royal Australian Navy submarines by French naval Group DCNS.
The agreement will enable France to transfer skills and technology to the Australian government and Australian industry to achieve a sovereign operational and sustainment submarine capability in Australia, officials said.
"This historic agreement builds on the strength and depth of the Australia-France defense relationship and is another significant step forward for Australia's Future Submarine Program," said Australian Minister for Defense Marise Payne.
"Australia's 2016 Defense White Paper established the need for a highly sophisticated and regionally superior submarine fleet. This fleet will, with the assistance of France, be built in Australia.
"Underpinning Australia's long-term partnership with French company DCNS for the design and build of Australia's future submarines, the agreement ... recognizes the importance of maximizing Australian industry involvement in the Future Submarine Program, including through deepening partnerships between Australian and French defense suppliers. This will drive innovation, jobs and economic growth right across Australia."
Australia's $35 billion Future Submarine Program calls for construction of 12 vessels. DCNS, which is partly owned by the French government, will build the conventional submarines in the state of South Australia. Lockheed Martin Australia is to be the combat system integrator.
Also on Tuesday, DCNS unveiled the new DCNS headquarters in Canberra.
"I welcome the infrastructure investment from DCNS as Australia's international partner for this historic Future Submarine Program," Prime Minister Turnbull said at a ceremony.
"This space will be more than just an office; it will be an innovative hub delivering cutting edge administration and support services focused on delivering regionally superior submarines and creating and sustaining jobs across Australia for decades to come."