Australia signed a production contract with French shipbuilder Naval Group on Monday for a fleet of 12 new submarines, worth AU$50 billion (US$35.5 billion). The move ends a two-year wrangle that cast doubt over one of the world’s most lucrative defense deals. Australia selected the French builder as its preferred bidder for the fleet of submarines in 2016 ahead of other offers from Japan and Germany. Final contracts, however, were delayed amid domestic media reports of cost blowouts and production delays. Australia and Naval Group signed a Strategic Partnering Agreement, the overall contract to guide the construction, to end the impasse. The 12 new submarines are at the center of Australia’s plan to significantly expand its military to protect strategic and trade interests in the Asia-Pacific region, Reuters said.