General Martin Dempsey (on right) Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin (at left), Australian Chief of the Defence Force, meet at RAN base HMAS Watson in Sydney, February, 23, 2015.
The following Reuters article confirms that non-tender factors such as the US preferences and what are assumed to be “common values” between Australia and Japan will heavily influence Australia's future submarine choice. Retired Vice Admiral Yoji Koda’s advocacy of most Soryus being built in Australia may amount to little compared to the views of Prime Ministers Abe and Abbott, MHI and KHI.
The article is a good summary of the key issues in Australia’s “competitive” evaluation process. I’ve included and bolded important sections. The article is by Matt Siegel, Reuters, April 1, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/02/australia-submarines-usa-idUSL3N0WX17A20150402:
“Washington's regional ambitions centre stage in Australian submarine tender
“…The qualitative difference between the [Japanese, German and French] submarines on offer was negligible, Rex Patrick, a former advisor to the previous defence minister and a submarine expert, told Reuters.
"All these guys build a good submarine. It will be factors other than capability which determines who wins," he said, partly referring to Washington's geo-strategic goals in Asia.
“…Japan had been the frontrunner to replace Australia's ageing Collins-class submarines with an off-the-shelf version of its 4,000-tonne Soryu-class vessel after Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed to cooperate on military technology with Abe [in June 2014].
“…U.S. officials insist they are not pressing Australia to buy any particular submarine but say they see benefits from the interoperability of the Japanese option.
During a visit to Australia in February, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the decision was one Australia would have to make on its own "for any number of domestic and international reasons".
But Dempsey also cited "interoperability" among allies as a key factor, although experts at the conference noted that submarines built by Germany and France, both NATO members, can communicate with U.S. vessels.
Still, Washington's view is that the Japanese submarine is technically superior to any European-made vessel, and will allow for the integration of more U.S. technology, a senior U.S. military source told Reuters.
"If they want to do it right, it is a Japanese hull and propulsion plant, with a U.S. combat system and ISR package," he said, using an acronym for the various types of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors like sonar and radar used on U.S. submarines.
‘…One notable Japanese participant at the [Sub Summit], retired Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, told Reuters that Japanese-Australian cooperation on the submarine deal would ensure countries in the Asia-Pacific with common values such as democracy also shared a common defence capability.
"The key point is not exporting our equipment on an industrial basis, but to be more strategic," added Koda, who also said Tokyo should be flexible and build most of the vessels in Australia, which would make the deal politically more palatable for Abbott.
Until now, sources had said Japan was reluctant to engage in a tender partly to avoid getting embroiled in a bidding war.
Japanese industry is also seen as wary of undertaking significant construction in Australia because of concerns about its sensitive submarine technology, including its stealthy propulsion system and advanced welding techniques. (Additional reporting by David Alexander in WASHINGTON and Tim Kelly in TOKYO; Editing by Dean Yates).” See WHOLE Reuters article.