April 25, 2014

Saab Eyes Australian Submarine Industry

The Saab Gripen with standard camouflage? poised to shoot down Putin's Flankers.

For the latest on this issue see June 11, 2014’s Australia's Future Submarine - Swedish vs German Claims http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/australias-future-submarine-swedish-vs.html . It is unclear whether Germany or Sweden hold the strongest intellectual property rights to the Stirling AIP.

MaritimeSecurity.Asia published the following article on April 20, 2014 which, in part, discusses Saab's possible interest in purchasing Australia's ASC (submarine building and maintenance company). Excepts [with interesting bits I've bolded in] this long article are http://maritimesecurity.asia/free-2/procurement-2/swedens-goals-fuel-saabs-acquisitions-defensenews-com/ :

Sweden’s Goals Fuel Saab’s Acquisitions – DefenseNews.com

HELSINKI — The Swedish government’s drive to rebuild core national defense capacities is pivotal to Saab’s ambitions to develop a competitive submarine branch and become a major global player in this segment, government and company insiders say.
Saab is reportedly close to agreeing to a takeover price with ThyssenKrupp for shipyards operated by the German group’s subsidiary, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), in Malmö, Karlskrona and Muskö, Sweden.
The acquisition of TKMS’ yards is fundamental to Saab’s quest to acquire the design and construction infrastructure it needs to secure state contracts ahead of taking over the A26 Next Generation Submarine and Götland-class fleet modernization programs for a cost of $3.5 billion.
Capacity acquisition will also be a vital component to Saab’s pursuit of an international partner, said Peter Hultqvist, chairman of the Swedish parliament’s Standing Committee on Defense (SCD).
“The wheels have turned,” Hultqvist said. “The government, possibly in response to Russia’s aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, has decided that a strong industrial defense capacity that is Swedish-controlled will be the cornerstone that underpins defense policy and future capability.”
The government’s view is that a Swedish-controlled submarine capacity is the best means to release TKMS’ (formerly Kockums) dormant potential to produce world-class subs and surface naval vessels. It will also enhance Sweden’s ability to pursue international contracts, such as Australia’s proposed $37.5 billion Future Submarine program, Hultqvist said.
Anders Carp, senior vice president and head of Saab’s Nordic and Baltic market area, said that the company is looking to increase its presence in Australia and has not ruled out bidding for the Australian sub-builder ASC.
“We are impressed by the company [ASC]; they have built up a very good business there, both with submarines and the Air Warfare Destroyer. But we need to look into that when it happens,” said Carp, who also is in charge of Saab’s corporate responsibility for government affairs.
The Saab-Australian connection had earlier been flagged by Lena Erixon, the CEO of FMV, Sweden’s defense materials procurement agency.
“It is possible that the work may also be shared with Australia and Poland. In Australia, there is considerable interest in a partnership regarding submarines,” Erixon said.
The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) existing fleet of six Collins-class submarines are based on a Kockums design. This fact, coupled with the state-held ASC’s service and maintenance contracts with the RAN, has added a new dynamic to the prospect of a future Saab bid for ASC, which continues to be the subject of sale rumors.
ASC officials have not commented.
Australia has a requirement for 12 large conventionally powered submarines under Project Sea 1000 (Future Submarine). The choice has been narrowed to either an evolution of the Collins boat or a new design.
Saab, says Carp, is interested in both options.
“Sea 1000 is one of the largest and most interesting programs and it’s Australia’s biggest program ever,” Carp said. “Being in the defense industry, you’d be kind of stupid not to be interested in it.”
Saab sees synergies between Sweden’s A26 program and Australia’s Sea 1000 Future Submarine project, and is examining a possible partnership with ASC on new submarines and the upgrade of existing boats.
Another possible fit is Sweden’s planned midlife upgrade on its three A19 Götland-class submarines and the Australian Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for its six Collins-class boats in the same time frame.
Saab and ASC constitute natural partners, Carp said.
Defense cooperation, including collaboration on submarine capability, was discussed when FMV officials visited Australia in recent months. Japan is also exploring cooperation with Australia.

Troubled Relationship

The emergence of Saab as a global player in submarine production would not be possible unless the company had the “wholehearted support” of the Swedish Cabinet, said an insider at FMV.
“Soon after ThyssenKrupp bought Kockums in 2005, there was a sense that the state had missed the opportunity to safeguard submarine building in Sweden,” the FMV insider said. “These fears intensified when Kockums’ project bidding role was removed to Germany at a time when it was working on bids for the Australian program as well as the prospective $4 billion Ula-class replacement program in Norway.”...


Anonymous said...


What does this PowerPoint presentation tells us about the SEA1000 submarine?

Where is the logic?
"Australian Centric Design

Sovereignty for safety
= Australia" (see slide 6)

The Collins class deranged Australia's submarine capability for decades and now the same thing again?

Wouldn't it be far more save to buy some Military Of The Shelf submarines which work?

Last slide: "Questions?".

I still have many after this presentation which showed nothing at all. Why more range compared to Collins class? Why not less? Just because "more" is better? Why not more submarines for less money?


Pete said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for the slides. As Defence Minister Johnston said - there has been very little progress in Australia deciding what features it wants in its new submarines.

The slides reflect that lack of progress. They appear to leave all options open - with less certainty than was even present in the 2009 Defence White Paper.

If Japan would or could offer its Soryu design that might be the closest MOTS.



Pete said...

Hi MHalblaub

In response to your:

"Why more range compared to Collins class? Why not less? Just because "more" is better? Why not more submarines for less money?"

I think the major challenge for the future submarine will be improvements in Chinese sensors when the future submarine is snorting. So the increased range will probably center on more deep diving underwater range.

The Australian solution might be AIP achieved by Stirling, Fuel Cell or MESMA and/or increased battery capacity (possibly Lithium ion). All these solutions add to the weight and size of the submarine.

Australia also has 6,000 km extra to/from transit range than is normal for 2,000 ton European design subs.

So all of the above explains why a European MOTS design will be inadequate. A long shot is Japanese Soryu MOTS.



Joakim Wohlfeil said...

Pete, maybe a stupid questions. I should of course have googled ASC etc.. but guess you have most facts on your hand.

I have understood ASC are mainly owned by Australian goverment if SAAB buy´s into ASC:

1. would there be any political/business obstacles for ASC to help SAAB/Sweden out with A26-NG if TKMS would obstruct the access to production facilities in Sweden ?

2. In a possible alliance SAAB/kockums-ASC, would you see any possible risks of conflict of intrest like the (not so happy) HDW/TK-Kockums marriage ?

My impression from the Swedish government statements so far seems that they are more concerned keeping the design engineers busy, than the yard workers. But also to guarantee work volume enought to keep the leading position in design, more than actually moving more hull production itself to sweden.

From such a perspective I assume a qualified production site on the Southern hemispere would be more of a benefit than competition to Kockum-Sweden if they once again would be free to offer products without asking HDW/TK for permission. But then i don´t know present bidnings and limits for ASC.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

there are several problems related to deep diving and a big submarine. A pipe with greater diameter is less stable than a smaller pipe with the same thickness. Stirling and MESMA have the same problem at great depths: the exhaust.

Same problem for US Mark48 torpedoes with swash-plate piston engine. They loose speed due to high pressure of 50 bar at around 500 m diving depth because the combustion engine has to work against this pressure.

"6,000 km extra to/from transit range" So RAAN wants to go directly from Garden Island to Shanghai? What about a base closer to the theater like Guam, Singapore or somewhere in Indonesia or Philippines? What about some submarine tenders?

Range for Oberon-class (length 90 m) was about 19,000 km, Collins-class (length 75 m) is 21,000 km and 19,000 km for Type 214. A Type 214 is just 65 m long. Just add several meter to increase the space for additional fuel.

Does the Japanese Soryu-class really got the necessary range? Japan doesn't need the Australian range. So why should the Soryus have the expected range?


Pete said...

Hi Joakim Wohlfeil

Unfortunately I'm not qaulified to answer your Questions 1 and 2. Best that you ask ASC.

Regarding the former A26 now called Next Generation Submarine (NGS). I would agree that at this very early stage of the NGS project that design needs to be done before construction. The Swedish government's idea of building more than 2 NGS seems mainly aimed at keeping construction workers busy and making "Saab Submarine" more competitive.

All very early days to speculate on Saab, ASC's and TKMS's relationships and business intentions.



Pete said...

Hi MHalblaub

Rather than really deep diving I mainly meant Australia's future submarines safely operating deeper than very shallow snorting depth.

If Australian subs from Sydney or Fremantle stopped at predictable refueling half way points this would significantly increases the chances of detection. Submarine tenders are very vulnerable.

More important than sheer range is the proportion of low detection range using AIP and/or batteries.

It is true the Soryu-class would be built in response to different Japanese transit, snorting and fully submerged AIP requirements. This makes straight MOTS Soryu's unlikely, but 214s even less likely. Modified Soryus may be a possibility.



Anonymous said...

Hello Pete,

a modified Sōryū-class submarine is as political possible as a nuclear solution for SEA1000.

The predictable stops are unnecessary then RAN has real bases at Christmas Island or Keeling Islands, Darwin, Cairns,... From Keeling Islands it is less than 4,000 nm to North Korea. Therefore a submarine that could pass through Sunda straight submerged would be suitable.

Submarine tenders are vulnerable? For what purpose does RAN builds the Hobart-class air warfare destroyers? RAN has already vulnerable replenishment ships which could supply submarines.

A submarine tender could stay about 1,000 nm away from a hostile coast anywhere in the ocean. No problem for peace time surveillance. Btw., what is the range of an F-35 or how close to the shore RAN has to operate the HMAS Canberra?

It also seems to be faster to reload a submarine 1,000 nm away from operation area than 4,000 nm away at a base.

To make someone nervous RAN just needs to move a tender in the region.

I still can't see any real necessity for a bigger submarine than current Collins-class.


Pete said...

Hi Matthias

Yes its true that Australia acquisition of most of a Sōryū-class sub or even only its propulsion system is unlikely. The risk is large that untested Japanese arms suppliers and frequently changing Japanese governments will change their minds mid-acquisition.

In major respects the Australian Government interest in Soryu may be to establish competitive tendering when there no real competition. I’m assessing TKMS-HDW as the only likely choice.

Saab would need to put any Baltic (short range, littoral) misconceptions (including the propulsion system) behind it if it wished to be a credible competitor.

Australia has no sub infrastructure at Christmas or Cocos-Keeling Islands, but yes Darwin might be a halfway point and Guam, Pearl Harbor, Diego Garcia or even Japanese bases?

I think submarine tenders are “sitting ducks” but island bases are more secure replenishes.

On “For what purpose does RAN build the Hobart-class air warfare destroyers?” and indeed the Canberra Class LHDs? I’m still working that out. One reason would be to form an Australian portion of a US battle fleet. Also Australia might unilaterally operate against (or in support of) small “failed” or threatened islands in our region.

The “range of an F-35” depends on whether it’s a F-35B an F-35A or C and whether either of the three F-35 types are mid-air refueled. How many kgs of munitions they’re carrying also counts.

A larger sub than a Collins can move more quickly fully submerged, has more endurance-mission days, more crew endurance, longer range and greater ability to incorporate features such as VLS, AIP and even special forces “piggy-back” mini-subs.