May 28, 2015

German TKMS-HDW's Bid to Build Australia's Future Submarine

Highly skilled and experienced workforce ... TKMS workers fitting out one of six new subm
Highly skilled and experienced workforce ... TKMS workers fitting out one of six new submarines now being built at the TKMS shipyard in Kiel. Supplied: German Submarine Source 

The following are excerpts from’s “Why German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems wants Australia’s Future Submarines contract” of MAY 23, 2015. Extra comments are in [...] brackets and links that I have added are also in [...] brackets :

TKMS has constructed 161 boats for 20 navies around the world since 1960 at Kiel including more than 50 built in customer countries that have benefited from a philosophy of total technology transfer.
The parent company [TKMS] operates in 80 countries, has a $60 billion turnover and employs 160,700 people globally. In Australia it employs 900 mainly engineers.
TKMS is the world leader in non-nuclear submarine construction and it is pushing very hard to win the contract to build Australia’s future submarine.
The navy wants to buy more than eight 4000-tonne submarines to replace its six ageing Collins Class boats from about 2026.
Germany, Japan and France are engaged in a bizarre “competitive evaluation process” by the Abbott Government for the $20 billion plus contract, which will be the most expensive and complex defence project ever undertaken to provide the nation with a vital deterrent and force multiplier for the next 50 years.
Sadly there is no “transparency” requirement in the process but that hasn’t stopped the Germans from opening their doors to share almost everything about their submarines and what they can offer Australian taxpayers.
The same cannot be said for Japan and France whose submarine proposals are shrouded in secrecy.
For TKMS this is a rare opportunity to win the biggest contract in history for non-nuclear submarines and the firm is pulling out all stops.
This week it opened its door to a group of Australian defence writers to explore in detail both its submarine and surface ship operations.
TKMS board member [Torsten Konker] described the Japanese bid as a “white elephant” because no one knew anything at all about what it is offering with its evolved Soryu Class boat.
Many observers agree and regard the Soryu as being optimised for Japan rather than Australia. They see the huge sovereign risk issues such as the lack of an export record as well as language, political and cultural differences as a bridge too far.
With nine submarines either under construction or being upgraded the Kiel facility is the world leader in non-nuclear boats.
TKMS Australia chief executive and former submarine commander [Philip Stanford] said all the German technology was exportable and the firm was willing to design an Australian built capability tailored to Australia’s needs.
“We don’t hide things,” he said.
Mr Stanford said another major advantage was the fact that the synergies between the German and Australian navies were very strong and likely to become even closer.
“The German navy is similar to ours,” he said.
That means cooperating in a variety of areas including submarine, technology and weapons development.
The company also visualises an Australian submarine and warship hub in Adelaide possibly building boats for countries such as Canada and maintaining TKMS submarines for regional nations and its bid is strongly supported by a German Government that is keen for close cooperation with Australia.
According to Mr Konker the German firm has a good record of cooperating with very different companies and diverse cultures including Israel, Turkey, Italy and Colombia to deliver cutting edge submarines.
“We have quite a good track record,” he said.
At the Kiel yard [Israeli Dolphin boats] are built alongside Greek or German submarines and when the time comes to install sensitive equipment — and there is a lot of it in an Israeli submarine — the vessel is “locked up” and everyone apart from Israeli engineers are banned from entry until the installation is complete.
Blohm and Voss sub contracts its huge yard to TKMS and today turns out hi-tech Frigates and other warships for navies around the world.
It was a robust Blohm and Voss Meko design that was chosen for the navy’s [Anzac Frigate] project that is widely regarded as the most successful Australian navy shipbuilding project ever.
According to TKMS senior vice-president of strategic sales and former South African Rear Admiral Jonathan Kamerman, the company’s key pillars that made the Anzacs such a success — such as seakeeping and fighting survivability — still applied today. TKMS has supplied 143 warships to 16 navies in 17 new classes since 1970 with half built in customer shipyards such as Williamstown in Melbourne.
He said Australia should learn the lesson from the flawed Air Warfare Destroyer alliance and look to the company that has done it before for Australia.
The man behind the Anzac ship was Dr John White who is now the chairman of [TKMS Australia]. When John White speaks governments usually take notice and he is speaking a great deal of sense when it comes to the navy’ future submarine and future frigate projects.
He was recently contracted by the government with American expert Donald Winter to examine the troubled Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance that is running years late and hundreds of millions over budget. The report remains a closely guarded secret.
Dr White sees a clear and logical path for the nation’s most important weapon projects.
He said TKMS was committed to replicating its German naval capability in Australia and specifically at Techport in Port Adelaide on the site of the taxpayer owned ASC. The company will push to take over ASC as part of its push to build subs, frigates and Pacific Patrol boats at the site.
“If not we will establish our own facilities at Techport and work with other facilities to build both Sea 1000 [submarines] and Sea 5000 [frigates] if we won them competitively,” Dr White said.
The Howard Government first raised the prospect of Adelaide becoming the national shipbuilding centre of excellence back in the late 1990s.
Sadly successive governments have been unable to make it happen, but the future submarine and frigate projects present an ideal opportunity for “national interest and sound business decisions to triumph over political bastardry and stupidity.” ENDS


Django said...


Been following the blog for a while and certainly enjoy reading the stuff you put on. I think the TKMS play is very significant and they are extremely serious about the OZ contract. I suspect behind the curtains they will push real hard for the OZ contract. I think what really needs to be determined is how much level of new tech will be incorporated in the 216 vs. what can be lock stock leveraged from the highly successful if somewhat problematic at times (Greece/Korea issues) 214 models. Understanding this will enable to quantify the timing with integrating and developing new modules specific to the 216.

Over the last two days the Germans have also raised the stakes with India with the German defence minister on a visit. Possibility of a direct Govt to Govt deal being raised. This development is significant given Indian Navy already operates four of the earlier HDW 209 class and TKMS is currently upgrading the same. For IN one of the key things will also be the deployement of ASMs especially Brahmos if possible with the UVLS would be a big big stick to carry. Imagine 6 of these things armed with 6 to 8 brahmos missiles with a 290k+ range roaming around in the IOR. This would obviously be beyond standard TTs and torpedo launched exocets (?)

I think the Japanese need to wake up and smell the coffee! Because the Germans are about to throw a gauntlet and its Japan and France's competition to loose if this keeps going.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Django

I'm glad you enjoy the blog. Its fun to write.

Yes not only TKMS but the Federal German Government is also pushing - given the importance to Germany of winning such a high value contract. It may dawn on the Australian Government how technically risky and expensive a weight gaining feature, like VLS, is. This will likely impact costs and difficulty with the 216, enlarged SoryuAU and SMX Ocean.

Hopefully consideration of Australia's lower revenue base (for the next decade) will cause revision downwards which may mean a more truely off-the-shelf SoryuAU or a Dolphin 2AU. I think the 214 is basically too small for Australia's needs. The TKMS Dolphin 2 is about 400 tons heavier - better for range, LDUUVs and larger crew.

As India has launched the first of 6 Scorpenes it would follow India's non-aligned approach to choose 6 German or Russian subs for next Project, 75i. So yes India's choice of a Dolphin 2 or 216 would benefit Australia in spreading the sub development load.

Australia needs to consider either buying a supersonic missile like BrahMos or more likely SM-3 Block II (range well over 1,000km, lets call it 290km MTCR-wise) for submarine . This is noting SM-3 Block II has a 530mm diameter which is on the way to making it 533mm torpedo tube capable. Subsonic Exocets, Harpoons and Tomahawks are too slow for several scenarios.

Japan appears to be moving its military industrial complex quickly. But moving too quickly might cause the LDP's moderate ally, the Komeito Party, in Japan's Parliament/Diet, to react negatively to any Soryu sale proposal. Also the needs and expectations of Japan's centrist public cannot be pushed too hard.



Anonymous said...

SM-3 Block II is a SAM unless Australian subs want to shoot down sub hunters, but then an Aegis radar is needed. I think the only supersonic choice today is Brahmos or Klub (in final stage) for SSM. For land attack, Brahmos is it since the Klub 3M-14 is subsonic. I do not know if the stealthy LRASM 1000km+ can be sub launched but it is also subsonic. You cannot have steatlh and be supersonic since the IR signature will be huge. Japan is developing a ramjet supersonic SSM but I do not know where is it in development.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

I think you're right that BrahMos and Klub may be the main current options. Australia, however, wouldn't buy Russian or Chinese Klubs. Buying BrahMos might displease the US but may be worth a try.

I was mainly thinking of a SM-3 that would need to be extensively developed - as was being considered by the US in the late 1990s - see .

But, as you say, high speed builds up a high IR signature from the rocket motor and whole heated up skin of the missile. This might also reveal the sub's position. High speed is also at the expense of range with the LASM project only talking about 150 nautical miles. High overall speed - long range requires SLBMs (what the US relies on) - and I don't think Australia will buy into that for decades.

Here's an interesting 2014 reference
"Five countries in Asia – China, Japan, India, South Korea, and Taiwan – have either civilian and/ or military programmes aimed at developing supersonic and hypersonic systems. It is generally agreed that supersonic systems (powered by ramjet engine) operate in the range of Mach 2-4 and hypersonic (scramjet engine) over Mach 5; most of the deployed LACMs fly at subsonic speeds of around 800km/hr...." then goes into a bit of detail.

I wonder where the Israelis are at with their Popeye Turbo?