December 18, 2014

Future submarine selection December update expected - Sydney Siege

A fleeing hostage from Sydney Siege December 15-16, 2014 beckoned by a policemen to a safer place.

Brendan Nicholson in The Australian December 15, 2014 provided a commentary on Prime Minister Abbott's expected future submarine selection update. The Sydney Siege that same day may have delayed any submarine update by several days. Full string of the submarine commentary is

Title "Tony Abbott to surface with plan for submarines"

TONY Abbott is expected to announce within days the start of the process for selecting the navy’s new submarines from a range of international options and for building and maintaining them.
The Australian has been told the Prime Minister’s announcement is likely to include the creation of a new defence industry entity to work with an experienced international submarine designer and builder.
The expected re-election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government with a substantial ­majority will remove a significant hurdle to Japan providing new submarines for Australia.
Japan, Germany, France and Sweden are all keen to provide the submarines. The Japanese are ahead of the others because they have the most experience building conventional submarines large enough to meet Australia’s needs.
The government is developing a three-stage strategy to save the shipbuilding industry, involving buying submarines overseas but maintaining them in Adelaide, completing the navy’s three Air Warfare Destroyers and building eight new frigates in Australia.
While a Japanese submarine has for months been the most likely option, Japanese domestic politics remained an issue.
Defence officials are in discussions with their Japanese counterparts to see whether the submarine technology they have on offer would suit Australia’s ­requirements.
If that deal does go through, Australia is likely to share in the design and building of a new class of submarine that will be an evolution of Japan’s Soryu.
If Australia does buy a Japanese submarine, it will be modified to extend its range and fitted with the same potent combat system and torpedoes as US nuclear-powered attack submarines.
The new submarine is likely to be powered by advanced lithium batteries, which take up less space than lead-acid batteries. More batteries can be carried, which significantly increases the submarine’s range and reduces the time it needs to run on or near the surface while running its diesel engines to recharge the batteries. Modern conventional sub­marines using such systems can stay submerged, without snorkelling, for three weeks." ENDS.
Connect with my own commentary of December 10, 2014 Australian Future Submarine Choices - Need for a Plan B at :

December 15, 2014

Swedish Bid for Australian Future Submarine Selection

Artist's conception of a Swedish A26 submarine operating in littoral waters while deploying special forces divers. Graphic courtesy of Saab site .

Sweden's early December 2014 claims might be summarised as:

Sweden is designing the A26 which will be around 2,000 ton surfaced. Australia’s government indicated it has received an unsolicited bid from Saab for an enlarged design. Sweden's claims that this includes a lower price than its competitors. Sweden would facilitate the smooth flow of Japanese submarine [Stirling air independent propulsion (AIP)] technology from the Soryu Class sub. Sweden also promises substantial technology transfer and industrial offsets for Australia, including jobs in Adelaide during the build phase.

See more here:
Sweden wasn’t part of the Australian government’s initial submarine evaluations, because Kockums was barred from export activities by its then corporate parent TKMS. This also prevented Sweden from bidding for Singapore's 2013 two SSK selection - subsequently won by Germany's HDW [as the 218SG proposal]. Saab Kockums is also offering to take ASC and Australian Navy engineers and technicians to work on its new A26 design in Sweden.

The current A26 design or an enlarged Australian version might be competitive with the German Type 214 or enlarged Type 216 respectively. Sweden's Saab and its subsidiary Kockums need to develop the A26 rapidly not only to be competitive in submarine sales but to face the resurgent Russian threat.

France (offering the existing Scorpene and overweight 4,700 ton (surfaced) "conventional version" of the Barracuda SSN) has been distrusted by Anglo counties in the long term and in the short term due to the proposed sale of Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia.

Sweden overall has national knowledge (including FMV and Kockums) of submarine building but Sweden hasn't built submarines (the Gotlands) since 1996 or arguably Collins since 2001. Kockums under German control heavily modified two ex-Västergötland class subs - relaunching them in 2009 and 2010 for Singapore as two AIP equipped Archer class subs.

On lowest price claims - price is very elastic - more an artform of itemisation than an accounting science.

Given the Soryu is less than 3,000 tons surfaced Australia is probably not wedded to 4,000 ton surfaced designs anymore.

Japan may be extricating itself from Swedish intellectual property issues by leaving Stirling AIPs out of the Soryu Mark 2s.

Technology transfer and training are strengths with the European contenders - something probably difficult for Japan.

Some offsets are probably a necessary political and technical benefit or burden for the Australian Government vis a vis South Australia and unions.


December 10, 2014

Australian Future Submarine Choices – Need for a Plan B

A Scorpene class submarine. A relatively simple purchase for Australia?
Australia's Abbott Government's newly stated preference for a quick submarine selection has increased the emphasis on existing submarine designs. This excludes the HDW 216 and also the conventional Barracuda-SMX Ocean which would both need years of design-development. What is left are the existing, in-production, Soryu's, HDW 214s (perhaps in Dolphin 2 form) and the Scorpene.

The Abbott Government might announce Australia’s future submarine, likely to be Japan’s Soryu, following the Japanese elections to be held on December 14, 2014. It makes sense for Australia not to hold a tender if the Government wants an in-production submarine rather than a risky drawing board design. If the unprecedented sale of Japan’s Soryu (Plan A) falls through Abbott needs a Plan B. Given Australia’s financial situation six new submarines make more sense than twelve.

This article follows my earrlier On Line Opinion submarine articles here and here.

The Australian Government’s preference for Japan’s Soryu is partly based on three aspects that could not be part of any tender process. One is deepening Abbott’s friendship with Japanese Prime Minister Abe (like Abbott Abe is a political conservative). Another aspect is the Australia-Japan regional alliance value of purchasing the Soryu. Australia would gain no such alliance benefits in buying submarines from the major European hopefuls (Germany, France and Sweden). The increased interoperability of Japanese and Australian Soryus would be an additional aspect.

Japanese Political Uncertainty

The December 14, 2014 Japanese election involves at least three levels of uncertainty. First it is for the lower House (of Representatives) where Prime Minister’s Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is in a ruling coalition with the basically pacifist Komeito party. If the LDP loses seats or Komeito gains seats Abe will have a weaker mandate to push through his defence export (Soryu largest item) policies. Secondly, and depending on the election’s result, Komeito might break from its conservative LDP ally and ally itself with leftist opposition parties. Thirdly the Japanese electoral rules require the existing Cabinet, including Prime Minister Abe, to resign. Abe then expects to be re-elected by LDP members, as Prime Minister, but that isn’t a sure thing.

Australia is unfamiliar with such nuances of Japanese politics even though such politics might impact a Soryu selection, delivery and maintenance process for over forty years. The enormity of the Soryu sale will be a test case for Japanese politics, Japan’s constitution and its defence industry as Japan has no major defence sales record.

A German or French Plan B

Japanese uncertainties mean Australia needs a Plan B to buy from European submarine sellers. These sellers have no serious political uncertainties and have proven defence sales records. Problems exist for the European sellers in anticipating what Abbott wants. This uncertainty demands an expression of Australian needs short of a formal tender.

In 2009, at the peak of the mining boom, it was calculated that Australia needed specially designed large submarines. But now we are in a mining trough this seems an unsustainable extravagance. It may well be that the European contenders have anticipated that Australia is still wedded to the 2009 requirements for submarines that weigh 4,000 tons (surfaced). Germany’s TKMS has apparently proposed the Type 216 to the Australian Government. France’s DCNS has proposed the so-called conventional Barracuda, also called the “SMX Ocean”, that apparently weighs 4,700 tons (surfaced). As both submarines would basically be Australia only (“orphan”) designs they are handicapped compared to the, in production (for Japan) Soryu. Meanwhile Sweden is offering a larger version of the drawing board design (A26). Sweden built its last complete submarine in 1996 or arguably 2001 if you count the Collins class.

The tonnage Australia really wants, or is prepared to tolerate, is a pivotal issue. If Australia is prepared to select submarines at the upper tonnage end of European designs then Australia could then make decisions that result in minimal design lags. This would increase the chances that the European submarines are built on-time and on-budget. Australia has practiced flexibility in (apparently) choosing the Soryu, that is less than 3,000 tons (surfaced). Such flexibility should also apply to current designs built by Germany and France.

If Japan’s proposed Soryu deal falls through the Australia government might really be after extended range versions of existing German or French submarines. These are Germany’s Type 214 and France’s Scorpene.

If Australia applied the same design realities of the Soryu Mark 2 to the 214 or Scorpene then lower tonnage would be more reasonable. The new batch of Soryu’s (which I call the Soryu Mark 2s) apparently will be without the extra weight of air independent propulsion (AIP) plants. Instead they will rely on new Lithium-ion batteries that have a higher performance than existing lead-acid batteries Germany and France also appear to be developing Lithium-ion batteries. For the Soryu, 214 or Scorpene lighter Lithium-ion batteries should allow extra diesel fuel to be carried for the extra range required (already 21,000 kms for the Collins).

A vertical launch system (VLS) appears to be absent in the Soryu’s and therefore should not be a weight gaining requirement for German and French proposals. Tomahawk cruise missiles can be fired from existing horizontal torpedo tubes. Modified VLS is not required for divers as divers are increasing being catered for in detachable dry dock shelter technology that sits behind a submarine’s sail-fin .

Six Submarines Not Twelve

To save many $Billions in purchase, manning and sustainment costs it would be better if Australia aimed at acquiring just six submarines not twelve. This takes into account Australia’s tight financial circumstances with many competing demands within and outside the defence budget. A requirement for twelve submarines was an uncosted, minimally justified, extravagance included in Australia's  2009 Defence White Paper (page 70, section 9.3 ) drawn up under the Rudd Labor Government. 

There appears to be a historical trend of shooting high in Australian submarine numbers. The numbers of UK built Oberon class submarines (operating 1967-1999) proposed for Australia shrank from eight to six The proposed number of the Collins (operating 1996 - present) went from ten, to eight, to six .

Australia's naval budget should not be spread too thinly given that the major new ship acquisitions will need to be maintained. These new acquisitions are the two 27,000 ton Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Docks and the three 7,000 ton Hobart Class AirWarfare Destroyers. The Navy also plans to build eight mainly ASW Future Frigates (Project SEA 5000) perhaps of 7,000 tons, in the 2020s. All of these new ships will arguably double the combat tonnage of the Navy.

Despite the political, financial and strategic uncertainties the Abbott Government needs to make a series of reasonable decisions for the future submarines. By having a reasonable Plan B the political risks of Plan A (choosing Japan’s Soryu) can be reduced. Plan B involves existing German and French submarines that are also in production (like the Soryu). Given Australia’s rapid naval expansion choosing a reasonable six submarines makes more sense than twelve. Whatever happens a repeat performance of designing a very large “orphan” submarine like the Collins should be avoided. 

Peter Coates

December 7, 2014

South Asian Submarine Issues

Sandeep Unnithan of India Today, December 4, 2014, has produced a higly detailed article on South Asian submarine issues - and also an excellent map. I have added some hyperlinks and additional comments and some corrections in [square brackets] to the article. It may take India 20 years to deploy K4 SLBMs (not yet developed) in Indian SSBNs (not yet launched). Article string is :

China's submarine noose around India

Submarine game: How China is using undersea vessels to project power in India's neighbourhood
  December 4, 2014 

Four decades after the 1971 India-Pakistan war, India's intelligence agencies are once again scanning a stretch of coastline in southern Bangladesh. Cox's Bazar [in what was East Pakistan - now Bangladesh]  was rocketed and strafed by [the old] INS Vikrant's fighter aircraft to cut off the enemy's retreat into the Bay of Bengal. Today, 43 years later, it sets the stage for China's dramatic entry into India's eastern seaboard.

Assessments from [Indian external intelligence service known as] the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and naval intelligence say the Bangladesh Navy will station two ex-Chinese Ming-class submarines on bases that are less than 1,000 km away from [India's main east coast naval base] Visakhapatnam, home to the Indian Navy's nuclear powered submarine fleet  [INS Chakra II and INS Arihant] and the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) missile test ranges at Balasore.

The developments on India's Arabian Sea flank are equally ominous. Intelligence officials say that over the next decade, China will help Pakistan field submarines with the ability to launch nuclear-tipped missiles from sea. Submarines, analysts say, are China's instrument of choice to not just challenge the Indian Navy's strategy of sea domination but also to undermine India's second-strike capability. These developments have been accompanied by a flurry of Chinese submarine appearances in the Indian Ocean this year-Beijing sent two nuclear submarines and a conventional submarine. Two of them made port calls in Colombo [Sri Lanka], triggering concern in New Delhi.

Toehold in the Bay

"No one interested in geopolitics can afford to ignore the Bay of Bengal any longer," [semi-governmental US] geopolitical analyst Robert Kaplan wrote in a seminal essay in Stratfor in November. "This is the newold centre of the world, joining the two demographic immensities of the Indian subcontinent and East Asia." For India, the Bay of Bengal is the launch pad for a 'Look East' policy that has received renewed attention under [Indian] Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Indian Navy is enhancing force levels at its Visakhapatnam naval base even as it has begun building a secret base for a proposed fleet of nuclearpowered submarines at Rambilli [at what will be INS Vasha] , south of Visakhapatnam.

[Future Indian SSBN Base INS Varsha]

[Wikipedia's at length advice is will "de-congest the Visakhapatnam Port, which is used by both the navy and the civilian Ministry of Shipping. The navy's dockyards at Vizag are facing shortage of berthing space due to the rapid expansion of the Eastern fleet, which grew from 15 major warships in 2006 to 46 in 2012, and is still expanding. Varsha will have a large near-by [east coast] facility of the [west coast headquartered] Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and will include modern nuclear engineering support facilities and extensive crew accommodation. It is designed to support the fleet of 8-12 Arihant-class [SSBN] nuclear submarines to be built for the Indian Navy. It will also have underground pens to hide the submarines from spy satellites and protect them from enemy air attacks. The navy is seeking foreign technical assistance [French or Russian?] pertaining to nuclear safety features for the base.[5] While designed principally as a nuclear submarine support facility, the new base can accommodate other naval vessels because of the Indian Navy's expansion. This facility has been compared to the top-secret [Sanya] Hainan nuclear submarine base for the Chinese PLA Navy. This east coast base expansion program by the Indian Navy was started due to India's Look East policy and the Chinese naval expansion into the region.[1][3][6]
In addition to Project Varsha, in late 2009, the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), located at Visakhapatnam, was transferred from the Ministry of Shipping to theMinistry of Defence in order to support the Arihant-class nuclear submarine construction program. These new vessels will be based at INS Varsha.[1][7] INR1.6 billion (US$26 million) were sanctioned for the project in the 2011-12 budget, of which INR580 million (US$9 million) were for civil works and the balance INR1 billion(US$16 million) were for setting up a VLF communication system.[8]]

[Article continues] "Equipped [in 5 years time? with the "B05" more widely called "K-15", SLBMs] with the 700-km range, the Arihant-class submarines will have to patrol closer to the shores of a potential adversary. But equipped [in 20 years time?] with the 3,500-km range K-4 missiles currently being developed by the DRDO, the Arihant and her sister submarines can cover both Pakistan and [part of China] with nuclear-tipped missiles from within the Bay of Bengal, providing the "robust second-strike capability" as stated in India's nuclear doctrine.

Inputs suggest Bangladesh has acquired land and fenced locations at the Kutubdia Channel near Cox's Bazar and the Rabnabad Channel near West Bengal. Kutubdia, intelligence officials say, is likely to feature enclosed concrete 'pens' to hide submarines. The possibility of Chinese submarines using this base provides a fresh equation to the strategic calculus.

"Our submarines become susceptible to tracking from the time they leave harbour," says veteran submariner and former Southern Naval Command chief vice-admiral K.N. Sushil (retired). "But a far more worrying strategy is China's ability to be able to threaten our assured second-strike capability. That effectively tips the deterrence balance."

West Coast Worries

Of greater long-term worry to Indian analysts is a strategic submarine project China finalised with Pakistan in 2010. Intelligence sources say this three-part programme will transform the Pakistan Navy into a strategic force capable of launching a sea-based nuclear weapons strike [initially from Pakistan's French designed Agosta Khalid class SSKs]. Pakistan will build two types of submarines with Chinese assistance: the Project S-26 and Project S-30. The vessels are to be built at the Submarine Rebuild Complex (SRC) facility being developed at Ormara, west of Karachi. Intelligence sources believe the S-30 submarines are based on the Chinese Qing [apparently an export version of China's Type 041 Yuan class SSK] of 3,000-tonne which can launch three 1,500-km range nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from its conning tower.

[The purported Projects 26 and 30 tie in with rumours for several years that China might sell some SSKs to Pakistan. The more public reason the sale has not occurred is that Pakistan doesn't not have the money. Also it was only recently that Pakistan upgraded its 3 Agosta-Khalid SSKs with AIP. Perhaps political pressure on China and Pakistan from India and the US has delayed such a Chinese submarine sale. Also perhaps financial pressure on Pakistan [in terms of overt and covert US aid money] has terminated or delayed such a China-Pakistan submarine deal.]

A [Pakistani-Chinese] Very Low Frequency (VLF) station at Turbat, in southern Balochistan, will communicate with these submerged strategic submarines [and probably Chinese subs in the Indian Ocean]. The Project S-26 and S-30 submarines will augment Pakistan's fleet of five French-built submarines, enhance their ability to challenge the Indian Navy's aircraft carrier battle groups and carry a stealthy nuclear deterrent. "Submarines are highly effective force multipliers because they tie down large numbers of naval forces," says a senior naval official.

Steel sharks on silk route

Speaking in Indonesia's Parliament last October, Chinese President Xi Jinping articulated a "21st century Maritime Silk Road". His vision calls for investments in port facilities across south and south-east Asia to complement a north Asian route. This year, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) put steel into Xi's vision. In February, a Shang class nuclear-powered attack submarine made China's first declared deployment in the Indian Ocean. This was followed by port calls made by a [Chinese Type 091 Han class SSN in November 2014] in Colombo to coincide with a state visit by President Xi [CORRECTION: preceded by a visit from a Chinese Type 039 Song class SSK in September 2014].

China's heightened activity in the Indian Ocean region is underscored by investments in a new port in Gwadar at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, a container facility in Chittagong and Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar. "Such developments have sharpened China's geopolitical rivalry with India, which enjoys an immense geographic advantage in the Indian Ocean," says Brahma Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research. "Aspects related to their (Chinese) deployment in international waters are part of securing their maritime interests," Navy chief Admiral Robin K. Dhowan told journalists in Delhi on December 3.

China's new military posture reflects the 'Malacca dilemma' faced by the world's largest oil importer. Close to 80 per cent of China's crude oil imports of 11 million barrels per day, the life blood of its economy, is shipped through the narrow Malacca Strait. Any disruption to this could threaten its economic growth. "Hence, China's economic interests in the Indian Ocean have now taken on an overt military dimension," says an intelligence official.

Naval intelligence officials who correctly predicted that China would use anti-piracy patrols as a pretext for deployments in the Indian Ocean feel vindicated. Their prognosis of this game of 'weiqi'-a game of Chinese chess which uses encirclement, is gloomy. "A full-scale Chinese deployment in the Indian Ocean is inevitable," an admiral told India Today.

"You can only watch it and prepare yourself for it." The preparations include acquisitions of long-range maritime patrol aircraft such as the US-made P8-I Poseidon, investment in anti-submarine warfare and inducting new submarines and helicopters to fill up critical deficiencies in force levels.

Measured Response

China's submarine thrust into South Asia coincides with Narendra Modi's renewed emphasis on securing India's perimeter. "India's response has to be nuanced, a mixture of coercion and largesse," says Jayadeva Ranade, a former RAW official and member of the National Security Advisory Board. While the [previous Indian Government of former Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh-led UPA government scoffed at encirclement theories, the new Government is clearly concerned over the creeping Chinese presence.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval voiced India's concerns at the 'Galle Dialogue' in Sri Lanka on December 1. He cited a 1971 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution mooted by Sri Lanka calling on the "great powers to halt further escalation and expansion of their military presence in the Indian Ocean".

India's defence diplomacy has been severely limited by its inability to offer military hardware to offset the Chinese presence. Over half the military hardware of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are of Chinese origin. In 2008, India called off a plan to transfer the INS Vela to the Myanmar Navy when it discovered the vintage Russian-built submarine was past its service life.

When plans to transfer hardware materialise, they are too feeble to make a difference-a solitary helicopter such as the one gifted to Nepal by Modi in November and a small ex-Indian naval patrol craft gifted to Seychelles recently. Often, there is a demand for capabilities where India itself is deficient. Bangladeshi officials stumped Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials last year when they asked India, and not China, to provide submarines. The Indian Navy is down to just 13 aging conventional submarines. The MEA suggested Bangladesh buy Russian submarines instead. Their efforts are yet to bear fruit. It is a gap China willingly fills."

Link this with Submarine Matters' India's Plans for 21 More Subs including SSNs of August 24, 2014


December 1, 2014

Australian future submarine components and combat systems

Possibly the best available diagram of the Soryu? It has a very rough indications of the locations of such combat system components. See names of some components in red at the base of this article.  


The following discussion is relevant to the important issues of the compatibility of submarine components and combat systems. Combat systems consist of a submarine's weapons, data management facilities (including work stations) and sensors (such as sonar). 

MHalblaub on November 29, 2014 said
"This is again the old discussion about what is compatible. The [floating communications bouys deployed by submarines] are just dumb radio transmitters. With an US radio on board there would be no difference which bouy would send the signals.

The problem for an US combat system on any submarine from DCNS, Saab-Kockums, TKMS or Mitsubishi/Kawasaki will be a huge price difference between inherent system and US system. Not to mention the delays for introduction into service due to modifications on both sides.

The SeaFox is in use by Royal Navy, Thai Navy and US Navy just to name a few. [the latter link didn't seem to work but this did ][on SeaFox Pete replies "Yes I agree PORTIONS of a combat system might be shared but a whole combat system is more built around weapons and sensor networks."]

The SeaFox is maybe to cheap for RAN and ASC."
Pete replies November 30, 2014
"I agree with your points about the bouys.
However the combat system is a much more comprehensive item that must interface with weapons. Australia is highly unlikely to put the US weapons on the scrap heap and change to German or French. Japanese weapons are sometimes the same as [Harpoon missiles] or similar [the torpedos, maybe mines] to the Australian weapons. Australia also wishes to operate the US Tomahawk. See "Australia and the United States Navy are in a partnership for the cooperative development, production, and through-life support of a replacement Heavyweight Torpedo (HWT)." at:

Australia has spent around 10 years working with the US Navy to develop the combat system used in the Collins with the longer term plan of migrating this system (including the weapons) to the Future Submarine. See

See this extended discussion on Australia future combat system issues which supports and refutes some of our arguments.
The combat system is also designed to interface with US undersea sensor arrays, surface, air and satellite sensor networks. I don't know how intensive this interface is. I don't know how easily German, French or Japanese combat systems could be used instead. I also don't know whether the US would be willing to share US-Australian version of the AN/BYG-1 combat system with Germany, France or Japan. 

I also assume that the Japanese submarines interface with US sensor network.

As well as electronic efficiency interoperability with the US is an important consideration.

See in the article below's discussion of the combat systems frequently used by:



-  used in the Collins - General Dynamics AN/BYG-1

 - while not mentioning othe overall term for the Japanese Soryu combat system is thought to be of mainly of Japanese design but incorporates (right-hand sidebar of ):

Sensors and
processing systems:
ZPS-6F surface/low-level air searchradar
Hughes/Oki ZQQ-7 Sonar suite: 1× bow-array, 4× LF flank arrays and 1×Towed array sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
ZLR-3-6 ESM equipment
2× 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs)
Armament:6×HU-606 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes with 30 reloads for:
1.) Type 89 torpedoes [similar to Collins Mark 48 torpedo]
2.) UGM-84 Harpoon
Mines [type unknown]


November 30, 2014

Combat Systems for Australia's Future Submarine? Work in Progress

Components of the ATLAS ELEKTRONIK's 
 Integrated Sensor Underwater System - ISUS 90 (or the more advanced ISUS 2000) one likely contender for Australia's Future Submarine

A dramatised (eg. periscope raised) animation of an attack using DCNS SUBTICS Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System.

Some of the components of the Collins US made AN/BYG-1 Combat System. The AN/BYG-1 may be carried over into Australia's Future Submarine.

Much information and many links have been kindly provided by MHalblaub. 

When Australia (sometime between 2016-2020?) chooses a combat system for the Future Submarine many considerations and possibilities are open. A combat system is a system of sensors (SONAR, electronic warfare, air-surface detection, navigation systems, communications) databases, for decision making, close-in steering and targeting. The combat system interacts with all of a submarine's weapons.

If there is a tender for the combat system many companies and combinations of companies may put forward bids-solutions. My guess is that after some bidders are eliminated the two final bidders will be:

- the ATLAS ELEKTRONIK ISUS 90 (or the more advanced ISUS 2000) with ATLAS is owned by ThyssenKrupp and Airbus DSThyssenKrupp owns Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) the world's largest conventional submarine builder. The prospect of the one major company, ThyssenKrupp, through HDW and Atlas offering the submarine and combat system (respectively) to Australia makes sense. ISUS means Integrated Sensor Underwater System

ATLAS ELEKTRONIK's ISUS 90 sales statement includes:

"ATLAS ELEKTRONIK is the undisputed technology and world market leader in command and weapon control systems for non-nuclear submarines. Our “Integrated Sensor Underwater System” (ISUS) is based on many years of experience, is tried and tested, is always at the latest technological level and, thanks to its modular structure and open system architecture, can easily be adapted to suit individual customer requirements and diverse operational scenarios. It enables the submarine crew to fully perceive their surroundings and to analyse the situation in detail, permitting a rapid and reliable response...The quality, reliability and performance of this system is unparalleled worldwide. And this technology lead is highly valued by our clients: ISUS is well-established at more than ten navies around the globe; our sonar systems are in service with over two dozen navies."

The ISUS 90 is on many of HDW's all export Type 209 and 214 submarines

For more ISUS 90 details see

- SUBTICS or Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System, offered by DCNS. System developed by Thales Underwater Systems-naval submarine division (Thales owns 25% of DCNS) and UDS Internatonal (all very complex and mixed up French corporate and government share holding-ownership - beyond comprehension). SUBTICS varies according to performances and integration level, in utilising sensors and weapons. It is used on all French Navy SSNs and SSBNs and has been chosen to equip next SSN generation Barracuda. 

On export markets, it is selected to equip every new submarines of Agosta, Scorpene and Andrasta types and to modernize submarines such as the Type 209. 

  • Submarines are increasingly faced with various missions including littoral and blue-water operations, stand-alone missions or within a naval force. SUBTICS indicates it can offer:
  • Efficient acoustic sensors including low frequency arrays and scalable data processing offering outstanding detection abilities of distant targets at high speed; 
  • Efficient non acoustic sensors on the surface and at periscope depth offering a high level of discretion; 
  • Communication facilities (from VLF to SHF), noiseless and fully integrated allowing submarine to interact in real time within a force;
  • Data synthesis from every sensors (optical, optronic, R-ESM and C-ESM, radar);
  • Advanced, automatic and interactive target motion analysis Tracks identification and classification functionality;
  • Track fusion and association through an interactive track management tool; 
  • Tactical, command and engagement aids with regard to geographical and tactical environment 
  • Tactical Data Links operation; and
  • Fire and weapon control Torpedoes : F17, SUT 266, TP617, Black Shark, F21 Missiles : SM39 and land-attack capability
SUBTICS provides systems for more than "40" vessels from 9 different Navies (including France).
  • Brazil (4 Scorpene being built) 1 SSN (to be built)
  • Chile (2 Scorpene, 2 Type 209)
  • Ecuador (2 Type 209)
  • India, (in the 4 Type 209 “Shishumar” class?)
  • Malaysia (2 Scorpene)
  • Pakistan (Agosta 90B, Khalid Classes),
  • Singapore (4 Challenger, 2 Archer Class) Type 218SG will not be using the French SUBTICS - instead using an Atlas Elektronik and ST Electronics designed system.
  • Venezuela (2 unserviceable Type 209)
- the GENERAL DYNAMICS AN/BYG-1 Tactical Control System (TCS). As well as General Dynamics  Raytheon is a systems integrator for AN/BYG-1 - making the AN/BYG-1 even more of a multi-corporate responsibility proposition than SUBTICS.  

Australia is very accustomed to the AN/BYG-1 and TKMS has experience in integrating the AN/BYG-1 with Brazil's Type 209 submarines. Therefore HDW should have no problem integrating AN/BYG-1 into the 216-218 solution for Australia's future submarine. 

US and Australian military communications links are intense and complex. Many acronyms and levels might describe them. A  US maintained, immensely complex SeaWeb communications and sensor system might be one. Other "inhouse" acronyms might be used, like FORCEnet, which may mean the same thing. In the NATO context Link 22 (see large pdf document) may indicate the complexity of links for sea, land, and air communications-sensor network between the US and its North Atlantic allies - with Australia of course being geographically separated from it. Australia and the US would most probably have submarine communications-sensor links under the AUSCANNZUKUS naval Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) interoperability structure.

The US and Australia are constantly refining the US designed submarine combat system known as the US General Dynamics AN/BYG-1The AN/BYG-1 is apparently used on all US SSNs (Seawolf Class with AN/BYG-2 upgrade) and SSGNs as well as SSKs from:

Spain (S-80)
Brazil (Tupi Class (Type 209))
Canada (Victoria Class)

The Collins weapons include the American made Mk 48 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles. The Collins is (US Tomahawk SLCM capable. The mines are UK made.


It is widely believed that (around 2000?) the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and Submarine Capability Team recommended the RAN acquire the ISUS 90 system. However the Australian Cabinet favoured US systems.

See In October 2009 Australia's then Minister of Defence Material Greg Combet, speaking still current RAN views, indicated  that the US would play a big part in developing Australia's future submarine. The Sydney Morning Herald recorded what Mr Combet said on October 6, 2009. "US 'to play key role' in new Aussie subs" October 6, 2009...
"Australia wants the assistance of the United States as it looks to replace the Collins class submarines, junior defence minister Greg Combet says.
"...I expect that Australia will look to learn from companies like General Dynamics Electric Boat and Lockheed Martin in designing and developing the Collins class replacement," he said in a statement.
"...US technology is likely to be an important facilitator of this capability," he said.

See of 20 January 2014 Prime Minister, Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Joint Media Release – 2013 Defence White Paper: The Future Submarine Program 3 May 2013
"...The Government has also taken the important decision to use the United States AN/BYG-1 combat system as the reference system for future design work.  The early definition of a combat system is a feature of a successful submarine program.  It allows the submarine design to proceed utilising more accurate projections of space, weight and power requirements."

Also see  SEA 1439 PHASE 4A - COLLINS CLASS REPLACEMENT COMBAT SYSTEM concerning an upgrade process of the AN/BYG-1 combat system conducted jointly by the US and Australia up to 2019 “in conjunction with the Replacement [amounting to upgrades of the US Mk 48] Heavyweight Torpedo (Project SEA 1429)” which points to future integration with US weapons.

- Some 2011 US RAND Corporation studies concerning Australian submarine issues needs to be added.

An excellent source on Combat Systems generally and by system-maker is Norman Friedman The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems 5th edn, 2006, pp. 133-156, text online


It is difficult to pick a winner. Australia should avoid solutions that: are divided, involve too many corporate-national vendors, as they lead to greater cost and program complexity. Therefore at least three options remain, including:

-  The prospect of the one major company, ThyssenKrupp, through HDW and Atlas offering the submarine (HDW 216 or 218) and combat system (ISUS 90 or ISUS 2000). This unity under TKMS is attractive.

-  If Australia chooses an enlarged Scorpene (with an eventual SSN a la Brazil possible) then SUBTICS would be a logical choice.

-  Australia is very accustomed to the US AN/BYG-1 (with an eventual purchase of US SSNs possible?) and several conventional submarine companies have  experience in integrating the AN/BYG-1 with conventional submarines. Also the US is Australia's most important ally.


November 28, 2014

DCNS Opens Submarine Office in Australia

Hervé GUILLOU, CEO of DCNS Group (left) opens new DCNS Australia subsidiary on November 19, 2014 in presence of Australian Defence Minister David JOHNSTON. Photo courtesy of

I have bolded some parts below for empahasis. The Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter November 20,  2014 reports .

DCNS opened a new subsidiary in Australia

Hervé GUILLOU, CEO of DCNS Group opened the new DCNS Australia subsidiary on Wednesday, November 19th, in the presence of the Australian Defence Minister, the Honourable David JOHNSTON, top management of local defence industries and numerous key personalities of government.
By setting up a long-term base in Australia, DCNS aims at taking the lead on coming discussions on SEA 1000 program between Australian stakeholders and a combined French government/industry team, including THALES Australia. Through this program, Australia plans to replace its current Collins Class submarines and DCNS is considering to propose a “conventional Barracuda” submarine, offering to Australia access to the most advanced French design and engineering know-how.
Hervé Guillou, CEO of DCNS, commented: “I am very pleased to officially announce the creation of DCNS Australia Pty Ltd. Australia is a key objective for the Group and for the French defence industry. Thanks to our dual expertise in design, build and through-life support of submarines of all sizes, including combat systems integration, we intend to bring a key contribution to the Commonwealth of Australia. Using sea proven solutions and robust industrial roadmap for the Future Submarine Australian program (SEA 1000), we’ll mitigate both program and technological risks while ensuring proper delivery strategy and capability continuity”.

Also see

For location of DCNS (in Canberra) see

Pete's Comment

The "conventional Barracuda" ("SMX Ocean") was reviewed on Submarine Matters at on October 31, 2014.

For interest - a DCNS Youtube featuring some DCNS products