Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Technology transfer key to Japan's bid for Aussie submarine contract

Ian McPhedran, The Australian
6 October 2015

Japan will transfer even its most secret submarine technologies to Australia if it wins the $20 billion plus job to build the navy's future submarine.
A high-powered Japanese delegation is in Australia to push the country's bid against better known German and French options.
A major concern for Australia was that Japan would be unable to hand over all of the technology involved in building the world's biggest and most advanced conventional submarine, but delegation head Masaki Ishikawa put those concerns to rest.
He told News Corp Australia that the aim was to have 100 per cent of the technology transferred with strict conditions imposed to protect the most sensitive information.
"Our objective is to have everything available to transfer," Mr Ishikawa said.
Rear Admiral Naoto Sato from the Maritime Staff Office said all technologies would be released to enable Australia to build the submarine.
This includes advanced welding technologies, top-secret stealth technology, combat system integration, unique high capacity lithium ion batteries and an all weather snorkel system that can operate even during a typhoon.
The delegation has launched a comprehensive industry plan that would see hundreds of Australian engineers and tradesmen sent to Japan for 'on the job' training and for a mock-up boat to be built to avoid any pitfalls with the first of type.
Mr Ishikawa said Japan was the only country in the world with a 4000-tonne ocean going submarine operating at sea.
He said Japan was prepared to build all the boats in Australia or to build the first one in Kobe, Japan under Australian supervision.
"Both options have strong points," he said.
He rejected concerns about Japan's lack of international experience pointing out that his country cooperated with numerous foreign firms on a variety of defence projects.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries senior vice presidents Izumi Ishii said his company had built submarines for 60 years with no quality assurance issues.
Mr Ishikawa also played down the language barrier issue saying that Japan was Australia's second biggest trading partner and that numerous Japanese companies operated here without any problems.
"There is no problem with language and cultural issues," he said.
The delegation laughed off the suggestion that politics might play a role.
"You have a new prime minister and that has no impact on our proposed strategic partnership," Mr Ishikawa said.
Japan, Germany and France are competing under a so-called Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP) for the $20 billion build contract for eight to 12 submarines.
The boats will be fitted with a United States combat system.
The Soryu Class is a 4000-tonne diesel-electric vessel built in collaboration between the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force and industrial leaders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation.
The Japanese option or Option 'J' was regarded as the leading contender as a 'captain's pick' by former prime minister Tony Abbott who was close to Japan's right-wing leader Shinzo Abe.
However many experts now regard the German bid from Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) as the favourite given that the shipbuilding giant has built 161 submarines for 20 countries, including Israel and six NATO nations, since 1960.
TKMS is offering a firm fixed price contract and will build the boats in Australia either in Adelaide or at Henderson near Perth. It has also integrated American systems into previous builds.
French Government firm DCNS is regarded as the rank outsider with its offering of a conventional version of its Barracuda nuclear powered submarine known as the 'Shortfin Barracuda'.

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