The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has released a report into the Future Submarine Program on the country’s future submarine capability.

The ANAO earlier reported that Defence designed and implemented the process to select an international partner for the Attack Class Submarine Program.

Following a comprehensive selection process, it was determined that France’s Naval Group is the most suitable partner to design and deliver a superior submarine that will meet the demanding capability requirements.

The ANAO auditor argued that the decision to engage Naval Group as a strategic partner for the Submarine Program, rather than buy an off-the-shelf submarine, has ‘increased the risk of this acquisition.’

Furthermore, it found that whilst Defence had established formal arrangements that allow for better administration of the programme, two design milestones were extended and its success is dependent on the ‘timely and cost-effective delivery’ of such milestones.

ANAO said in a statement: “The ANAO also concluded that Defence established a fit-for-purpose strategic partnership framework with Naval Group.

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“Having done so, Defence continues to actively manage its contractual arrangements with Naval Group as both parties work closely to meet the inevitable challenges that will arise with a programme of this scale and complexity.”

After the Strategic Partnering Agreement was signed in February last year, a schedule for design of the Attack Class Submarine was agreed and implemented under the Submarine Design Contract.

The first scheduled major milestone was reached five weeks later than planned. Defence and Naval Group are working on the recovery of this delay by the next contracted major milestone in January 2021.

ANAO further added: “Acknowledging the scale of this programme, we remain confident that our work on the Attack Class Submarine Program with Naval Group and Lockheed Martin Australia is progressing thoroughly and will result in the delivery of a regionally superior submarine capability for Australia from the early 2030s, establishing a truly sovereign capability as we maximise the involvement of Australian industry.”