Foreign builders of Australia's new submarines are using hand-delivered messages after hackers try to steal their plans

Photo: Getty/ Andreas Rentz.

Submarine builders in Germany, France and Japan say spies are attempting to hack highly sensitive information about Australia’s $20 billion contract to build a new submarine fleet.

Manfred Klein, campaign manager Australia for Germany’s TKMS, has told The Australian it receives as many as 40 hacking attempts per night.

In response to the cyber attacks, TKMS, France’s DCNS and the Japanese government have all been put on alert and have been forced to rely on hand deliveries of sensitive information about their plans for the Australian Navy.

While the identity of the hackers have not been confirmed, all three bidders privately believe China and Russia are suspects.

As part of a “competitive evaluation process” to find the most suitable maker of the navy’s new fleet, each bidder has been provided with classified technical and performance requirements of the new submarines, from which final bids to Defence will be made by November 30.

The government is then expected to pick a winner, or reduce the shortlist to two, in the first half of next year.

Former US submarine ­com­mander Stephen Johnson has been appointed general manager of the navy’s new submarine fleet and will be responsible for choosing the new submarines to replace the six existing Collins-class subs which will retire in the mid-2020s.

The Australian has more.

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