SYDNEY - Australia will spend A$89 billion ($64.9 billion) on ships and submarines for its navy over the next 20 years, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday, A$40 billion of which has been earmarked to build surface ships domestically.
Two naval shipbuilding programs, the A$20 billion SEA5000 Future Frigate project and the SEA1180 Offshore Patrol Vessels, would be brought forward to guarantee the continuous domestic construction of surface warships, Abbott said.
Abbott, who is facing intense pressure from within his conservative Liberal Party to ensure that an A$50 billion stealth submarine program is built domestically, said the move would save about 1,000 jobs.
The winner of the lucrative submarine bid, Australia's biggest-ever defense procurement deal and one of the world's most lucrative defense contracts, would be considered separately as part of a competitive evaluation process.
"The fundamental thing that we have done today is ensure that we don't just have a ship build in Australia, we have a fleet build in Australia," Abbott told reporters in Adelaide.