February 2, 2015

Possible Australian Future Submarine Competition Again Raised

DCNS SMX Ocean concept submarine - being offered to Australia as the "conventional Barracuda".
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Dramatic DCNS sales video for the SMX Ocean.
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news.com.au published an article on January 31, 2015 that confirms the expectation (recorded here) that the Australian Government may announce (in the next few weeks) that it is holding a submarine selection competition. news.com.au is owned by Murdoch's News Limited. Some useful data  in the article concerrns the contenders wishing to sell to Australia:

"THE PLAYERS AND THEIR MARKETS
*DCNS - France, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Chile and Malaysia
*Saab Kockums - Sweden, Australia
*TKMS - Germany, Brazil, Greece, South Korea, Portugal, Turkey, Israel, Singapore and South Africa.
*Kawasaki/Mitsubishi Japan - Soryu Class Japan only"
In any competition France's DCNS is likely to include the "conventional Barracuda" (SMX Ocean) in any bid (see artist's conception and video above).

Comments in the news.com.au article are very much in line with what I have argued in Submarine Matters over the last few weeks.

Within the article the submarine expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Andrew Davies, commented that any Soryu deal "...is government-to-government and the Japanese are not interested in a commercial competition. This would be their first submarine collaboration and they don’t see themselves as a commercial bidder.”

This Japanese assumption that it is above commercial bidding may already render a "competition" a meaningless exercise that endorses the Soryu as the winning "bidder". 

The only major error in the news.com.au article is the statement one-third the way down that "...DCNS [is bidding] an evolved nuclear boat that is already in service." This is incorrect. DCNS is offering what it calls a "conventional Barracuda" (also called "SMX Ocean"). The Barracuda itself is a not-yet-launched nuclear submarine-"boat". Launch of the first Barracuda may occur in 2017. That Barracuda may be in-service in 2018 but probably later. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Barracuda-class_submarine

Due to the complexity of a conventional Barracuda's propulsion system any conventional Barracuda might not be in service until 2025 - and that is if DCNS finds a customer.

See my earlier article of October 31, 2014 which describes how different a conventional Barracuda-
SMX Ocean would be from the nuclear version (that is still under construction). 

Still it has to be said that while conventional Barracuda-SMX Ocean is at the conceptual stage, the likely German bid, the TKMS-HDW 216, is even more conceptual. The increasingly used term "vapour-ware" applies to the 216.

The Australian Government may be ensuring decades of problems if it assumes that the Soryu challenge can only be met by very large submarines that don't exist. Instead a large version of the existing Scorpene or of the HDW Dolphin should be seriously considered as contenders. The automatic assumption held by the Government since 2009 that the future submarine MUST be heavier (surfaced) than  the Collins forgets that the relationship between size and range is not linear. The range of the already built HDW 214 is already 12,000 miles. See more argument here.

Pete

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
what was that reeled in torpedo thing,
also by the way the maps than DCNS has put up seems to be more realistic than any defence advert I have seen.
Harish

Peter Coates said...

Hi Harish

The unmanned underwater vehicle (UVV) that looks like a torpedo in the DCNS video (at http://youtu.be/sPVVcuoV3K4 )is probably a D19 also made by DCNS. See D19 details here: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/naval-exhibitions/euronaval-2014/2141-new-dcns-d19-uvv-revealed-to-navy-recognition-during-euronaval-2014.html

Yes the map and other graphics created by DCNS in the video are very good.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
I meant those depicted map seem a little more than any artistic impression, Kind of like the real Northern Coast of some country in question, as well as the direction of those Bogies!

Harish

NavyRecognition said...

Hi all,

Another video on SMX Ocean where a DCNS official says it is more than just a concept:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x875HaNzvag

A very recent interview on Barracuda SSN with the program manager:
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2399

And the technical datasheet of Barracuda:
http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2253

Xavier

Peter Coates said...

Hi Xavier of NavyRecognition

I am confused. Thanks for those three websites.

1. Another video on SMX Ocean where a DCNS official says it is more than just a concept: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x875HaNzvag

2. A very recent interview on Barracuda SSN with the program manager: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2399

3. And the technical datasheet of Barracuda: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2253

The first and third website indicate the SMX Ocean is a proposed conventional (SSK) derivative of the Barracuda SSN.

While the second website says SMX Ocean is just a concept combination of DCNS technologies.

Which website is correct?

Regards

Pete

NavyRecognition said...

Hi Pete,
To answer your question:
For Items 1 and 3 my source was DCNS.
Item 2 is an interview of a French Navy Officer who works as program manager for the Barracuda (in other words he is not from DCNS).

I hope this answers your question.
Xavier

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Xavier

I suspected that was the case. DCNS and the French Navy clearly have different organisational interpretations.

I also suspect that the standards of what can be admitted are much stricter in the Navy.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Xavier of Navy Recognition

I've added Navy Recognition – specifically http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/focus-analysis/naval-technology.html - to my Frequent Reading blogroll.

This helps fill a gap in Submarine Matters both for navy tech and for more input from France.

Regards
Pete

NavyRecognition said...

Thanks Pete, I appreciate it.

See you maybe at Pacific 2015 in October. In the mean time, keep up the good work.

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Xavier

The Sea Otter Mk II AUV advertised for http://www.pacific2015.com.au/ looks especially interesting.

Regards

Pete