News – AU – Frustrations and concerns over billions of dollars worth of submarine and warship programs mount

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Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds has been admitted to hospital as a “precautionary measure” and is on medical leave

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Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds has expressed “frustration” and “disappointment” with the French company building Australia’s future $ 90 billion submarines as it prepares to face its global boss in key contract negotiations to confront

A year after the Naval Group committed to spending 60 percent of its massive contract value on local suppliers, the company has yet to anchor that number in a formal agreement with the Commonwealth

At the same time, there are fears that Australia’s ambitious $ 45 billion program to build new submarine frigates could follow the path of a related Canadian warship project that is suffering massive cost and time losses

According to sources, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been increasingly concerned over the past few months about Defense’s ability to execute the massive projects and referred his concerns directly to the Department’s National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise team

Prior to her meeting with the Naval Group, Senator Reynolds told Parliament that she was annoyed at the slow progress of negotiations with the French

On Wednesday, Naval Group’s global executive director Pierre Eric Pommellet is expected to meet Senator Reynolds in Canberra after flying to Adelaide, where he underwent a mandatory two-week quarantine period

“I am frustrated and very disappointed that the Naval Group has not yet entered into this deal with Defense, but it will not do so at the expense of Australian jobs and industries,” Senator Reynolds said Tuesday

ABC believes the Commonwealth will insist on annual Australian Industrial Content (AIC) audits on the project to build 12 Assault Class submarines, but the French are resisting so far

Despite the tense and drawn-out negotiations, the government insists that the complex timeline for building submarines remains on track

“Defense continues to work closely with the Naval Group to move this project forward and ensure it is delivered on time, to specification and on budget,” a government spokesman told ABC

The Naval Group reaffirmed its commitment to Australian industry ahead of Mr Pommellet’s meeting with the Secretary of Defense

“Naval Group Australia is determined to maximize the capabilities and content of the Australian industry in the design and construction of the Attack Class fleet,” said a company spokesperson

“We continue to have productive discussions with our Commonwealth partners about the best way to achieve this common goal and about incorporating our commitment into the Strategic Partnering Agreement for the future Australian submarine program”

The Department of Defense has denied concerns that Australia’s future $ 45 billion frigate program may also face problems as a warship project in Canada is under scrutiny for cost and schedule failures
In 2018, British company BAE Systems was selected to build nine new Hunter-class submarine warships for the Australian Navy based on the British Type 26 frigate, a decision soon to be followed by Canada became

However, the Canadian Surface Combatant project to build 15 British-designed warships is already facing delays and significant cost increases The price rises to $ 70 billion

On Wednesday, the Canadian Parliamentary Budget Office will publish a report on the controversial project A day later, the Canadian auditor is expected to present a report on the country’s national shipbuilding strategy

Independent Senator Rex Patrick said the warning signs in Canada should be taken seriously in Australia

“The Canadian frigate and the Australian frigate are based on the same design It is very likely that similar problems will arise here in Australia, “Senator Patrick told ABC

A defense spokesman said the department is closely following developments in Canada and the United Kingdom

“The defense has close and cooperative relationships with defense partners in Canada and the UK and regularly discusses a number of issues related to the Global Combat Ship program, which is shared between the three nations,” said the spokesman

“As the leading nation currently building the Type 26, the UK is drawing lessons from the Australian Hunter Class program”

Brent Clark, CEO of Australia’s Industrial and Defense Network, said local businesses also appear to have missed the $ 45 billion Future Frigate Program

“Australian companies can be at a disadvantage because they are only asked to quote for small numbers in the program, while overseas supply chain companies are asked to quote for the entire global program,” he said

BAE Systems has denied the claim, claiming that it is already exceeding its target of at least 58 percent Australian content, and insists that the company is “absolutely confident of maximizing the engagement of Australian industry”

“The Hunter-class frigate program is a program that not only provides nine of the most advanced frigates for fighting submarine warfare, but also aims to create a sovereign shipbuilding industry,” said a spokesman

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News – AU – Frustrations and concerns over billion dollar submarine and warship programs increase
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Source: https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-24/government-frustrations-future-frigate-warship-fleet-program/13184064