Australia will scrap a massive $90 billion deal with France to build submarines in favor of new arrangements with the US and Britain, claimed a major Australian broadcaster on Wednesday.
ABC News reported that Canberra “will use American and British technology” to build nuclear-powered submarines.
The dramatic development comes after an emergency huddle called by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison where he also briefed opposition leaders on the move, said the report.
Along with Australia and the UK, the US is expected to announce a new trilateral security alliance called AUKUS.
In 2017 Canberra picked French giant Naval Group (then known as DCNS) for Australia’s largest-ever defense contract – to design and build “regionally superior” 12 conventional submarines.
The new alliance, with Australia expected to use technology and defense expertise provided by Washington and London, may upset Paris.
Australia currently uses Collins-class submarines.
Cementing defense ties with the Western countries could put Australia in stronger position in the wider Asia-Pacific region, where the US is leading a loose alliance of India, Japan and Australia – known as Quad – to counter China’s growing military and economic influence.
Bilateral relations between Canberra and Beijing have spiraled down in the past two years after Australia joined the US and others in seeking a probe into the origins of COVID-19, angering China.
Canberra is expected to formally announce the new developments in its defense sector, and foreign diplomats in the country are also expected to be briefed about the new steps.