Good luck to you mate

No, really, good luck:

Australia has signed up to an empty promise by agreeing to a US nuclear powered submarine deal for which there is no clear delivery date or technology transfer agreement, the furious head of the French defence contractor Naval Group has warned.

Pierre Eric Pommellet also said his firm will be seeking compensation for Australia’s cancellation of a €56bn (£48bn) contract for 12 new Attack-class submarines, which he described as a purely political decision which came without warning.

If Oz has broken the contract then you should have compensation. If you screwed up and thereby broke the contract yourself then you don’t deserve compensation. The people to decide this are the courts. So, good luck.

21 thoughts on “Good luck to you mate”

  1. a US nuclear powered submarine deal for which there is no clear delivery date or technology transfer agreement

    Probably the Australians know more than is being publicly told, but US submarine shipyards are fully booked for the next 15 years and the current US fleet is overtasked. It’s not obvious where the nuclear subs for Skippy are going to come from.

    Otoh the Frogs were absolutely taking the piss. ***At least*** £50 billion for 12 diesel subs which are themselves a risky bodge job from a nuclear design and won’t fully come into service until the 2050’s at the earliest. What were Aussie politicians thinking? (Counting their bribes, obvs)

    The French must’ve been haw-hawing up their sleeves at the stoopid Australians, but it’s a rule of business (unknown to the miserable Franks) that a good deal is one where neither party gets rorted. Running a multidecadal, multi-billion dollar partnership as if you were hawking counterfeit perfume down the market was a bad move.

  2. As far as I understand, it was one of those contracts with a series of work stages with authorisation needed to proceed to the next stage. We’ve simply declined to do that and gone with the opt out clause. We’ll have to pay for work to date and there is probably compensation spelled out in the contract. But it looks like a legit termination.

    Steve, on stupid Australian politicians – we’re the ones who insisted on the conversion to conventional in the first place, something that is not being mentioned much here in Aust but I’m sure the Frogs are hopping mad about now that we’ve decided to go nuclear after all!

    US/UK designed nukes weren’t available at the time though, so you could look at this as belated and expensive correction of a mistake.

  3. @ Ltw – interesting.

    I had already assumed from the extent of the tantrum that the French didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

  4. PJF – I would’ve thought the issues of long lead times, limited capacity, etc. would also apply to British yards (currently busy with the Astute and Dreadnought classes) but idk.

    The Frogs are probably correct that Britain’s involvement in AUKUS is opportunistic. If our government was smart, it’d be trying to quietly decouple itself from US-led adventures after the absolute humiliating disaster of Afghanistan and Sleepy Joe’s handlers’ palpable hostility to the Brexit Isles, but nobody ever accused HM Government of working for the British people.

    For Australia, it looks like a better deal than being paypigs for the French, but I wonder what difference a handful of SSNs are going to make against a China that’s pumping out high tech weapons platforms at a rate that would make Henry Ford jealous. Either China will grow larger or it won’t, I suspect it’ll be their own internal demographic and economic posture that determines this, and not anything the rapidly declining and debt-ridden Western powers do.

    Tiiiime is on China’s side (yes it is).

  5. I wonder which legal jurisdiction was written into the contracts? As for building the nukes, I guess some of the reactor stuff will go to RR. Not sure if Oz has any shipyards capable of building subs, but Barrow has. The order could even be part of what is going to replace the Astute class subs, or just some more Astutes.

  6. Ltw – “Steve, on stupid Australian politicians – we’re the ones who insisted on the conversion to conventional in the first place,”

    Yarp, but what doesn’t add up (unless you consider bribes) is paying the Frogs to convert an atomic design to diesel.

    It’s not like swapping the engine on a car, the whole thing needs to be fundamentally redesigned at massive expense. Oz effectively bought a brand new and completely untested design when they could’ve bought diesel subs from Japan, Germany or Sweden at a fraction of the cost, a fraction of the lead times, and almost zero risk.

    Made zero sense from a defence POV, but I assume, as usual with Western military procurement, defending the realm wasn’t really important.

  7. Steve, yes, I agree, the Naval Group deal was always stupid. Japan were at one point the front runners on the original tender, they were pretty miffed when they didn’t get it.

    There sort of were bribes involved (probably), not in the brown envelope sense but in that the Aust government wanted as much of the construction work as possible to be done in local shipyards (South Aust, mostly). I suspect the French were willing to promise a greater level of local grunt work and that swung them the deal. Also probably never meant it and were starting to talk about reneging on that – ‘well, if you want to make up the delays we could always add a few more boats to the French construction side’, etc

    There is speculation now about what we will actually procure, Virginia or Astute class – or, please no, a hybrid class adapted to the local conditions. Not another orphan class, please.

  8. ‘Not another orphan class, please.’

    That is so obviously the worst possible choice Ltw, that I have this awful suspicion that that’s what’ll happen.

    Still, we’ve at least accepted that we really need nukes, so perhaps a more sensible approach is possible.

  9. Australia needs nuclear weapons to counter the CCP.

    But given the scum running the show down there they’d probably use them on Australians.

  10. “If our government was smart, it’d be trying to quietly decouple itself from US-led adventures after the absolute humiliating disaster of Afghanistan and Sleepy Joe’s handlers’ palpable hostility to the Brexit Isles, ”

    By the time any of this comes to fruition Sleepy Joe Biden will be a distant distasteful memory. Come to think of it the Late Joe Biden could be a distant distasteful memory Monday next week. After 3 years of Comrade Kamala Yanks could be electing anyone. If they bother about an election & don’t just lynch the government.

  11. Fingers crossed Boganboy. But I’m not holding my breath. The five page list of ‘minor’ changes the RAN wants is probably already being sent around for review.

  12. More likely Astute than Virginia, unless the US offers a Virginia without all the top secret stuff they won’t want to share. Whitehall might be more inclined to share our stuff on an Astute.

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    More likely Astute than Virginia, unless the US offers a Virginia without all the top secret stuff they won’t want to share. Whitehall might be more inclined to share our stuff on an Astute.

    I thought technology transfer of the really top secret stuff was a key part of the deal?

    That also points to some sort of local build, so maybe a hybrid as feared by Ltw and Boganboy?

  14. By the time any of this comes to fruition Sleepy Joe Biden will be a distant distasteful memory. Come to think of it the Late Joe Biden could be a distant distasteful memory Monday next week. After 3 years of Comrade Kamala Yanks could be electing anyone

    Yarp, but that’s why I mentioned the Corpse President’s handlers.

    Doesn’t matter who replaces him after he dies in office mid-child-sniff, and it doesn’t matter who the Yanks think they’re going to be allowed to elect. The permanent bureaucracy running the US government are not our friends, and they don’t mean to do us any good.

    What have decades of bombing the fuck out of shithole countries bought us, except debt, crippled soldiers, and hordes of shithole refugees?

    A sane British foreign policy would involve getting out of NATO and minding our own business. We don’t need to pick fights with China or Russia or anybody else at all.

  15. “A sane British foreign policy would involve getting out of NATO”: quite right, and no more of those stupid show-the-flag exercises in the South China Sea or the Black Sea. Sell the aircraft carriers to India if she’d like them.

    Our best defence policy would be based on three things. (i) We are surrounded by a tank trap, (ii) We have nukes with which to deter the very naughty boys, (iii) We issue no threats against anyone else. Switzerland-on-Sea.

    So, no more wars against Iraq or Afghanistan or Serbia or Syria or Libya …

    If we really must seek an alliance against France/the EU, the ally of choice should be Russia.

  16. One problem dearieme. The foul Frogs and the evil EU could cut off the Russian supply of gas. To adopt this policy would require /horrors of horrors/ fracking.

    Of course the same thing applied to Trumps isolationist tendencies in the US. Foul fracking meant that it was perfectly practicable to abandon the Middle East. You’ll have noted that Biden is cracking down on fracking.

  17. Steve
    September 24, 2021 at 8:44 am

    . . .

    What were Aussie politicians thinking? (Counting their bribes, obvs)

    Aussies have *not* had a good track record when it comes to procuring subs from anyone. All the way back to the times when the UK was foisting off their old, crappy, ones alongside the badly designed ones on them.

    Though I’m not sure why a ‘power’ insulated from a lot of the world by a thousand or more miles of ocean, would think they could be a player on the world stage alongside the US/UK vs China/Russia *without* nuclear subs or access to a hell of a lot of secure foreign basing.

    Otherwise those French subs would have been only coastal defense boats no matter what they pretend otherwise.

  18. In a past life I managed the ‘requirements management’ team and was a key holder/changer for the secure link to the BAE CAD system for a significantly important sub-prime contractor on the Astute class programme. (Contracts are let in stages by BAE with basically anything that goes through the pressure hull getting set up first so propulsion, weapons, optronics mast) Fascinating stuff how the high level spec gets progressively more and more detailed and turns into engineering requirements and an acceptance testing schedule. What’s even more interesting is how changing a spec item leads to a *huge* number of engineering changes as the space/weight budget is tightly constrained at the system level and at each part of the boat to make sure it is balanced and can float/sink/stay level.

    No way will the AUS Navy be making big changes without big budget changes. Might change the electronics and some human factors stuff (like adding a BBQ) but they won’t change weapon numbers, tube arrangement, plant and equipment spec etc without basically building a new submarine class due to the knock on changes.

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