Canberra, May 16 (IANS) Australia and Sweden have achieved a "significant milestone agreement" relating to Intellectual Property rights for submarine design and technology, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said Thursday.
The agreement followed extensive negotiations between Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, Smith said in a statement issued jointly with Sweden's Minister for Defence Karin Enstrom, reported Xinhua.
"This agreement gives effect to Australia's rights to use and disclose Swedish Intellectual Property rights for complex submarine design and technology," Smith said.
"Defence materiel cooperation has been a key feature of the Sweden-Australia relationship, most notably in the area of submarine technology where our collaboration over the construction and support of the Collins submarines has spanned two decades, and more recently, with the vital 'sense and warn' capability provided to protect our troops in Afghanistan," he added.
In 1987, Australia ordered six submarines of the Collins Class designed by Swedish firm Kockums AB. The submarines were built in Adelaide and will be in service for another 20 years.
Australia is now planning for their replacement with 12 new boats with the recent 2013 Defence White Paper settling on two options - an evolution of Collins or a completely new design.
Smith said the government announced last year it would engage Kockums to undertake initial design studies for the evolved Collins. But before that could occur, Australia needed to reach an agreement with Sweden on use of Collins and other Swedish technology for the Future Submarine Program.