Japanese angered by submarine evaluation in secret meeting

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A debriefing by an Australian delegation last month saw Japanese defence officials contest the reasons their submarine design bid failed.

The Australian quotes unnamed sources present at the May 12 – 13 series of meetings, who challenged the modelling and assumptions of the proposed Soryu Class submarines, which were beaten by the proposed design by France’s DCNS.

“The Australians had made their own set of assumptions about the data which they were given (by Japan) but they reached different conclusions from it to what Japan did,” an unnamed source told The Australian.

“We kept asking (the Australian) why didn’t you ask that question or pose it in a different way?”

The three-way Competitive Evaluation Process between German, French and Japanese contenders was won by DCNS and announced in late-April.

The Japanese team was reportedly angered about a lack of questioning during the evaluation process around the submarines’ stealthiness. This information was kept partly secret as the Soryus are currently in service.

Last month a debriefing to German officials – explaining that their design would create “unacceptable… radiated noise” – was also tense. They were also critical of the lack of explicitness around required stealthiness, and believed that (undisclosed) criteria could have been satisfied if these weren’t kept a secret from them.

The contract to build the submarines in Adelaide is the largest in Australian history, and worth an estimated $50 billion for building and $100 billion in sustainment.

Before Tony Abbott was defeated by Malcolm Turnbull in a September prime ministerial vote, a Japanese submarine deal was considered by many to be a done deal.