France’s DCNS is set to propose its Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A design for Australia’s future submarine competitive evaluation process (CEP).
Claimed to be the world’s most advanced conventionally powered submarine, the vessel is in its pre-concept design stage and has been named after an indigenous species of the Barracuda found in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The Shortfin Barracuda is the smaller version of the French Navy’s Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarine.
DCNS Australia CEO Sean Costello said: "While exact details remain confidential, DCNS can confirm the Shortfin Barracuda is over 90m in length and displaces more than 4,000t when dived.
"If selected, the Shortfin Barracuda will remain in service until the 2060s and the Block 1A platform will be updated and upgraded with new technology developed in France and Australia.
"The technical evolution of the submarine will be enabled by a strategic level government-to-government agreement between France and Australia."
DCNS’s design will compete against Japan’s Soryu-class and German firm TKMS’s Type-216 submarines, reported Sky News.
The future submarine project is the country’s largest defence procurement programme, representing an investment of $50bn.
Australia is seeking to build submarines with range and endurance similar to the Collins-class vessels, as well as superior sensor performance, and stealth characteristics.
This new submarine fleet is expected to fill a capability gap in the mid-2020s, when the Collins-class submarine is scheduled to retire from service.
Last month, the Australian Government established the Expert Advisory Panel to oversee the competitive evaluation process for the submarine programme.
In February, it announced the acquisition strategy for the programme, providing further details of the competitive evaluation process.
The preferred bidder is expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2016.
Image: The Shortfin Barracuda is more than 90m long. Photo: courtesy of DCNS.