The Australian and French defense ministers said Monday that they have given top priority to concealing design details of a new Australian submarine after data was leaked from French shipbuilder DCNS about a submarine built for India. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the mutual concerns of France and Australia to avoid a repeat of such a leak were addressed in an agreement on protecting classified information signed in Paris last week.
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“Our determination is total and our cooperation is just as total as our determination,” Le Drian told reporters through an interpreter in Sydney.
Australia announced in April that DCNS, a French state majority-owned company, had been chosen to design 12 diesel-electric submarines at a cost of at least 56 billion Australian dollars ($41 billion).
Le Drian was in Australia to sign a bilateral agreement on Tuesday to create a DCNS-Australia partnership to build the world’s largest conventionally powered submarines in Australia.
Fears were raised in August that India’s Scorpene subs could be compromised by the leak of sensitive data from DCNS. The Australian newspaper reported that the information was suspected to have been taken in 2011 by a DCNS subcontractor.
The Indian government later said that the leaks had been investigated and that the subs’ security had not been compromised. DCNS has been contracted to build six of the Scorpene conventionally powered subs in Mumbai.
Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Monday that design security for Australia’s 97-meter (318-foot) -long Shortfin Barracuda subs “is a first-order issue for both of us.”