This particular statement by DCNS might be payback for an earlier statement from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, who in February stated that there would be risks in using an as yet untested submarine design for the Future Submarine Program. Nowhere in Japan`s statements, however, was the suggestion that either TKMS or DCNS` designs might result in a tragic accident or heighten security risks with China (because let`s face it, no matter what submarine Australia chooses China will voice its concerns about them), so DCNS has engaged in something approaching slander of MHI and the Japanese government in order to sow doubt about Japan`s bid.
Now DCNS might claim that no lithium ion batteries could survive extended patrols of the area envisaged by the RAN, as they have said that such batteries cannot stand up to such constant usage. Yet what DCNS submarines use lithium ion batteries to the same extent as those of Japan? Could it be that DCNS designed lithium ion batteries are more prone to exploding that those of MHI? After all, Japan has been operating submarines with lithium ion batteries for some years yet there have never been any reports of incidents involving such batteries.
The decision surrounding the submarines is ultimately one that Australia and Australia alone will decide, but DCNS, and by implication the French government, have attempted to circumvent Australia`s own sovereignty by suggesting that we risk strategic complications with China if we choose a Japanese submarine. If Washington doesn`t have a problem with French submarines, as DCNS claims, they will have a problem with such statements being made in public, especially as the US is engaged in strengthening alliances in the Indo-Pacific and doesn`t need DCNS to suddenly jump into the fray and cast dire warnings about strategic consequences left, right, and centre from closer defence relations between Australia and Japan.
Ultimately MHI may not choose to get into a slagging match with DCNS about their technical capabilities, although they`ve been given a pretty good reason for doing so. It`s a tactic that DCNS might ultimately regret, as it smacks of desperation, and DCNS cannot point to any specific flaws in Mitsubishi`s lithium ion batteries (and there is a vast difference in how car and submarine batteries are manufactured, it must be said) which would heighten any risk of explosions. At any rate, the CEP in the public sphere just got a little bit uglier, and a few tit for tat articles can be expected in the weeks ahead.