November 13, 2014

TKMS HDW 216 or Soryu Mark 2 for Australia's Future Submarine?

A Soryu (Mark 1) in a Japanese port. Will Australia buy the Soryu Mark 2? I don't know what the hull nets are (pictured) - for security to cover sonar sensors or anechoic tiles? Or to keep the tiles wet?

Previous statements by Australia's Defence Minister, David Johnston and Prime Minister Abbott pointed strongly to Japan's Soryu as being Australia's future submarine.

But statement's reported today are more ambiguous. Indicators are that the not yet launched Lithium battery batch of Soryus (which I call the Soryu Mark 2s) AND Germany's TKMS HDW 216 both seem to be in contention. 

If the Australian Government is intentionally putting both contenders in doubt this is a good pro-competition strategy.

November 13, 2013 statements:

AAP via Australia's Channel 9 News reports, November 12, 2014 : [Defence Minister David Johnston is saying] Australia won't be buying submarines off-the-shelf because there aren't any in the world capable of meeting the nation's future strategic needs. Australia's future submarine needs superior characteristics in stealth, range and endurance, sensor performance and hitting power, Defence Minister David Johnston told a conference in Fremantle yesterday.
[Comment - does that rule out the current off-the-shelf Soryu Mark 1 (that contains Stirling engine AIP for which Sweden owns the intellectual property rights) from Japan? The Soryu Mark 1 also is not considered to have the 12,000 nautical mile range Australia probably wants. ]

"The next submarine will have longer range and endurance than any diesel-electric submarine currently available off-the-shelf," he said.

[Comment - Is "current" the keyword? Therefore is the not yet current Soryu Mark 2 still in contention. The Soryu Mark 2 will reportedly have Lithium batteries, no AIP, so implicitly more space for diesel fuel, hence longer range. Is the not currently off-the-shelf TKMS HDW 216 also in contention?]

That's likely to bolster the hopes of the South Australian government, which has been urging Canberra to ensure the new submarines are built by the ASC in Adelaide.

Senator Johnston said a design phase was needed as quickly as possible to avoid a capability and national security gap..."

In contrast Western Australia Today (Australia's Fairfax Press) reports a greater likelihood of the Soryu, November 13, 2014 "Australia's move to spend billions of dollars buying a new fleet of submarines from Japan has moved a step closer during a meeting between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.
Japanese media reported that Mr Abbott and Mr Abe agreed their countries will continue talks on the transfer of defence equipment and technologies to Australia.
Mr Abbott did not comment publicly after the submarine project meeting on the sidelines of an East Asia Summit of leaders in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw. But he praised the depth of Australia's relationship with Japan as almost spiritual "in the depth of the links between the two countries"..."
Australia's reports November 13, 2014 : "THE build location for Australia’s future submarine is irrelevant but the nation must own the design and sustain the fleet, according to Navy Chief Vice Admiral Tim Barrett.

Warning against repeating past mistakes, such as costly brawls over intellectual property, he said the country’s security depended on a fleet of “available and deployable submarines.”

“We need to have a complete knowledge of the submarine we operate, a complete understanding of the design ... a complete understanding of every aspect of the boat, its system and all their attributes,” Vice Admiral Barrett said..."



The Australian Government's more ambiguous position today:

-  responds to the competitors - encouraging the Soryu builders and TKMS to reveal more about their products and intentions, and

- responds to the various interest groups in Australia - most of whom want a more deeply considered decision than the apparent previous "have Soryus built in Japan" choice. Most interest groups want  most of the submarine building work to take place in Australia - both for jobs and so Australia knows more about the submarine.



RAJ47 said...

Hey Pete,
How are you?
Are you on twitter?
Check this out please:

Pete said...

Hi RAJ47

I'm fine. I use twitter rarely and only in support of my On Line Opinion Articles. looks promising.



Michael R said...

Pete, I still think the Japanese won't be able to deliver the Soryus. While the Soryu is technically state-of-the-art, the Japanese have no experience in the management and export of such mega-project. They don't know how to do it.

Pete said...

Hi Michael R

I agree with your assessment of the low likelihood Japan can deliver the Soryu.

As I said in September 2014:

"The prospect of assigning the project to Japan brings up many issues including: fewer job opportunities for Australians; only small cash injection for South Australia's economy; and (dealt with below) Australia being Japan's first major defence customer as well as the Soryu's range limitations."
For more details see "Our submarines to be built overseas?"



Michael R said...

Hi Pete,

How do you see the chances for the A26? Australia’s government confirmed that it has already received the unsolicited bid from Saab: “It includes a lower price than its competitors and a smooth flow of Japanese submarine [propulsion] technology from the Soryu Class boat, because Sweden is a partner in the Japanese project. There will also be 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 still trapped and suppressed within TKMS. That has changed. Saab CEO Hakan Bushke says that they’re willing to design a 4,000t submarine for Australia, and take ASC and Royal Australian Navy engineers and technicians to work on its new A26 design

Pete said...

Hi Michael R

The A26 would have less of a chance than the TKMS 216 as they are both design board subs. Saab has never built a complete submarine.

Sweden overall has national knowledge (including FMV) of submarine building but Sweden hasn't built submarines (the Gotlands) since 1996 (or arguably Collins since 2001).

Price is very elastic.

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

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

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

Offsets are probably a necessary political and technical burden for the Australian Government vis a vis South Australia and unions.

It is an unusual corporate dynamic when only 2 A26's are set to be built in Sweden but 6-12 larger Aus Future Subs might be built in Sweden and/or Australia. This effectively places more development cost and risk on the much larger Australian portion.

All this is a far cry from the Japanese offer of 6-12 Future Subs off their 2 existing production lines.