Following the failed submarine deal with Australia, the head of the French defence contractor Naval Group, Pierre Eric Pommellet, has spoken of a purely political decision.
The company did not receive an advance warning that Australia was changing its mind in favour of nuclear-powered submarines with support from the United States and Britain, Pommellet told the newspaper Le Figaro on Thursday.
On the contrary, on the day of the announcement of the new alliance, there had initially been a green light from Australia for a stage report and the next step of the submarine project.
This was followed later in the day by a telephone conference with the Australian Defence Ministry and the announcement of the end of the project.
France is just as capable as the US and Britain of supplying nuclear-powered submarines, the naval chief stressed.
Naval is the only company in the world with the know-how to produce both conventional and nuclear submarines, he added.
The remaining costs to be paid by Australia to Naval after the termination of the contract will be compiled in the coming weeks, Pommellet said.
According to the Ministry of Defence in Paris, around 900 million euros ($A1.45 billion) has already been paid in the course of the contract.
In total, the project, which was to run for several decades, had a volume of 56 billion euros, but only part of this would have flowed into Naval's accounts.
The end of the project is a blow, but does not mean the sinking of Naval, Pommellet said. It is about 10 per cent of the current order volume, which consists of orders from the French navy and from India, Brazil, Egypt, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Australian Associated Press