The Australian Ministry of Defence has contracted companies to proceed with the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) $50bn Future Submarine programme.

The government has signed a design and mobilisation contract with French shipbuilder DCNS to begin the design phase of the programme.

Under the contract, DCNS will construct the new submarines modelled on its Barracuda nuclear attack boats, reported Sky News.

"Mobilisation and design activities will mark the start of the Future Submarine Programme."

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said: “Mobilisation and design activities will mark the start of the Future Submarine Programme, with work also commencing to maximise Australian industry involvement and early planning for the construction of the submarines in Australia.”

“The timely start of design and robust planning for each phase of the Future Submarine Programme are essential to success and for the benefits to start flowing to the Australian economy.

“Involvement of Australian industry in the Future Submarine Programme is of vital importance to the construction and sustainment of the submarine fleet into the future, creating job opportunities across Australia.”

Alongside construction of the future submarines in Adelaide, technical work will be undertaken including the integration and testing of submarine systems.

The government has also selected Lockheed Martin Australia as the combat system integrator for RAN’s submarine programme.

The company will integrate the submarine's sonar and other sensors, weapons and navigation systems, making use of a control system from US submarines, reported Sky News.

Minister for Defence Marise Payne said: "Lockheed Martin Australia will be our Combat System Integrator to partner with Defence and DCNS to design and integrate the combat system of our Future Submarine, which meets our unique capability requirements.

“By partnering with an Australian-based company with strong links to the United States we will ensure that we get the best Australian and US technology, while ensuring that our sensitive technology is protected.”

Lockheed Martin is planning to collaborate with other Australian companies to provide the local engineering capacity and will draw on its expertise from US-based Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, and General Dynamics – Electric Boat.