The governments of Australia and France have signed an agreement to establish the framework required to build the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) new fleet of submarines.

The inter-governmental agreement was signed between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and France Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said: “This historic agreement builds on the strength and depth of the Australia-France defence relationship and is another significant step forward for Australia’s Future Submarine programme.

“Australia’s 2016 Defence 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.

"Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper established the need for a highly sophisticated and regionally superior submarine fleet."

“The agreement signed today will enable France to transfer cutting-edge skills, knowledge and technology to the Australian Government and Australian industry to achieve a sovereign operational and sustainment submarine capability in Australia.”

Earlier this year, French company DCNS was selected as Australia’s future submarine design and mobilisation partner while Lockheed Martin Australia was chosen as the combat system integrator.

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Under Australia's SEA1000 future submarine programme, the new submarines will be built in Australia, by Australians using Australian steel. It is expected to create thousands of jobs in the country.

The new fleet of 12 submarines will replace the Collins-class submarines, which are scheduled to retire from service in the mid-2020s.