[PARIS] French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday that a contract snagged by France to design and build Australia's next generation of submarines would create thousands of jobs in the country.
"It will mean thousands of jobs in France, it is a very long term contract. We have got married to Australia for 50 years," Mr Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.
France fended off competition from Germany and Japan to win the 34 billion euro (S$31.85 billion) contract to build 12 new subs in Australia, as well as maintaining the equipment and forming crew.
"Part of this money will be invested in Australia, because Australia wishes - and we understand this - to ensure its security and industrial sovereignty. But there is also a significant portion which will return to France," Mr Le Drian said.
The defence minister said he would visit Australia "soon to establish a roadmap" for the implementation of the contract.
Most French jobs to be created as a result of the contract would be in northwestern Cherbourg, where France builds submarines, as well as the cities of Brest, Lorient and Nantes.
French specialist naval defence contractor DCNS had been in competition for the contract with Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and a Japanese consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The contract is the latest boost to France's defence industry, after the country last year secured the first-ever export of its Rafale fighter jets to Egypt and Qatar.
India has also signed an agreement to buy 36 of the fighter jets after years of tortuous negotiations, but the two sides have yet to agree on a price.