December 15, 2015

The French DCNS Bid for Future Australian Submarine

This October 2015 Youtube (above) displays the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A.


This second Youtube (of 2014) gives an idea of what a modern submarine can do. It  depicts the "SMX OCEAN" concept.

"Australia’s Future Submarines

The Future Submarine Program will deliver Australian an affordable, regionally superior, conventional submarine capability, sustainable into the foreseeable future.
Australia must have the ability to operate, sustain, maintain and upgrade Australia’s submarine force on an enduring basis.

Australia’s Future Submarines project will be the biggest defence acquisition in Australia’s history, valued at $50 billion.

Building the submarines will be a mammoth task – at least twice the size of the Collins Class program.
On completion, the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A will be the most technically complex artefact in Australia.

Our pedigree

As one of the largest and oldest defence materiel constructors in the world, DCNS has the technical capability to deliver the highest quality submarines for the Australian Navy and the Australian public.
DCNS is the only submarine design company in the world to have design competencies in nuclear and conventional submarines, safely delivering submarines ranging from 2,000 tonnes to 14,000 tonnes to navies all around the world.
In the Western World, alongside the United States and France, France belongs to the very exclusive club of nuclear nations. DCNS designs, builds and maintains the French Navy’s nuclear submarines, and as such, control the most complex and sensitive technologies in our shipyards. It is with this in mind that DCNS has prepared the proposal for Australia’s Future Submarine Program.

The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A

The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A, designed specifically for the Royal Australian Navy, is the world’s most advanced conventionally powered submarine.
Cutting-edge technology, direct from France’s nuclear submarine program, pushes the submarine’s stealth capabilities into a new realm.
Pump jet propulsion replaces obsolete propeller technology. Hydroplanes can retract to reduce drag and noise.
The Shortfin Barracuda will field the most powerful sonar ever produced for a conventional submarine.
As new technology is developed between France, Australia and the United States, upgrades can be easily made via quick-access technical insert hatches.
The Shortfin Barracuda is 97 metres in length and displaces 4,500 tons when surfaced.
It is a magnificent, inspiring submarine which will remain state-of-the-art until the 2060s.
In adopting this technology, Australia will join an elite club which includes only the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France.
Australia and France have enjoyed a close friendship across many generations. The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A marches that friendship well into the future.

The Build

DCNS will present three strategies to build Australia’s future submarines. For
The first option is to start the project in France and build all the submarines in Cherbourg, France.
The second option combines the capacity of two shipyards, one in France and one in Adelaide.
The third option is to start the project in Australia and build all the submarines in Adelaide.
Each option has different costs and benefits, and ultimately the choice of how the submarines will be built is a decision for the Australian Government to make.
For both options, dedicated programs and measures have been designed to transfer technology, expertise and knowledge to Australia. This technology transfer will prepare Australia for the future operation and maintenance of the submarines.
DCNS has the capability and resources to deliver either Australian build option.

Full transfer of stealth technology

France is offering the Australian Government complete access to the stealth technologies utilised on board French nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarines (SSNs) and ballistic  missile submarines (SSBNs).
These technologies are the “crown jewels” of French submarine design and have never been offered to any other country. The very nature of these stealth technologies and the decision to release them to the Australian Government is a significant demonstration of the strategic nature of this program for the French authorities.
The United States will be responsible for supplying integrated combat systems to the Future Submarines, as well as the submarine’s weapons.
The collaboration between Australia, France and the United States will see DCNS providing design, technology and expertise within this sovereign framework.

Local employment

DCNS intends to attract and work with the local Australian defence industry across the design, construction and sustainment phases of the Future Submarine Program.
We view Australia’s Future Submarines Program not only as an opportunity to share our expertise and systems, but also to work in partnership with Australian naval shipbuilders to further develop the technical skills of the naval manufacturing workforce.
Our success as an advanced technology company is not only built on meeting customer needs by deploying exceptional know-how and unique industrial resources; it is also driven by our ability to develop innovative strategic partnerships with the countries for whom we build.
DCNS. Building Australia’s Future Together."
This is, of course, the overt summary bid


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete. South Australia threatens WA

Anonymous said...

The pump jet propulsion could be a unique differentiation for the DCNS proposal. The earlier drawings of the Shortfin Barracuda shows a propeller, so the latest proposal is a revised design.
Pump jet propulsive efficiency at slow speeds is not as good as a propeller (nothing beats a big slow turning propeller) so a pump jet is not synergistic with AIP. This is why on the animation video, a retractable bow propeller is shown for maneuverability at slow speeds. The submarine will probably needs this to reverse since a traditional pump jet cannot.
Pump jet shows up on SSN and SSBN because with nuclear power there is unlimited electrical supply, not so with diesel. A pump jet on a diesel submarine implies massive banks of LIB to take advantage of its efficiency and quietness at higher speeds.
In my view only build #2 is viable. Since the design office is in France, the earlier submarine assemblies must be done in France to iron out any design issues when you put this together for the 1st time. When there is no longer design isues, then one can assemble them in Australia.
The DCNS proposal weakness lies in the integration with the US subsystems and weapons. The wordings imply the US is responsible for this integration. There are substantial risks here.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [Dec 15, 4:34PM]

There is no way South Australia should have a reserved position as the one and only Frigate and Submarine builder in Australia.

If South Australia had such a position there would be a repeat of the Collins or AWD (300% over South Korea price) fiascos.

Its important other countries and other States have a substantial and competitive part of the mix - and Julie Bishop is from WA.

And Marise is from NSW :)



Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at Dec 16, 2:21AM]

I agree/hope the Shortfin pumpjet will be soon dropped - even if it signifies an SSN like aura without paying for a reactor. Even if pumpjet gives some in the RAN (and Dennis Jensen MP) hope that buying Shortfin SSK is a precursor to Barracuda SSN, nuclear may be a long time coming.

As you point out there are too many SSK in operational area low speed drawbacks to pumpjet. This explains why few? (no) SSKs have them.

A retractable bow propeller (and retractable stern propeeller) working with an X-plane tail rudder would surely be ungainly.

Building first of contender class at Cherbourg, Kiel or Kobe (to properly detect and fix "any design issues" as you say) would surely be better than a Collins rerun.

How the US integrates with DCNS is indeed a minefield. And US with TKMS or Japan Inc may not be great either. Australia will be reliant on the good nature of Lockeed (or Raytheon) and the Pentagon.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,
On my way I passed a Concorde and a Tu-144 a few minutes ago. Both look very similar from the distance but a close look shows huge differences.

Submarines look all very similar. Rudder arrangements might be different but the important things are hidden inside a steel tube.

The video by DCMS revealed a few things. One Mica missile replaces one torpedo. That is not a good relation. The interim solution for the IDAS missile is a rack for 4 missiles fitting inside a torpedo tube. Final solution should be two seperate tiny tubes. One at the bow and the other at the stern.

The need for a bow thruster might be linked to bad slow speed maneuverability.

There was no evidence that the submarine can handle high volume data transfer while submerged.

For the UAV another big weapon was lost. There is already another solution by Gabler. How will the submarine controll the UAV submerged deeper than periscope deepth?

Much CGI and no proof of concept.


NavyRecognition said...

Here is a video rendering showing the actual Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A by DCNS released in October 2015(as opposed to the SMX Ocean)

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

It seems the whole idea of a UK-France bilateral "national honour deal" = Concorde caused enormous grief. I don't know if the Channel Tunnel has been a success either given huge contruction costs. Tu-144 for Russia - no need to rush, just prestige. Boeing and Airbus got it right with numbers/efficiency.

Yes submarines are never pretty and they hide their insides. The system should have considerable export potential sooner or later.

The action of deploying a bow thruster might well be unstealthy (as well) due to sudden slow-down and turbulance. Maybe only USS Jimmy Carter has one - for very specialised purposes.

Yes much work needs to be done on submarine UAV operations. Also a UAV is an indicator (to enemy) that a submarine is in the area.



Peter Coates said...

Thanks Xav

It will be interesting to see Youtubes of the Barracuda (when launched) functioning inside and out.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

“DCNS Australia chief executive, Mr. Costello said that the Barracuda’s pump jet propulsion, rather than propellers, gave it a major tactical advantage over other submarines in the region” [1]. But, I want to know whether DCNS overcome low efficiency of pump jet propulsion at low speed [2], because efficiency of propulsion system is vital for powerless conventional submarine.

[1] (The Australian, Dec/18/ 2015, “France fires first in battle for submarines job”)
“In a confrontation between two otherwise identical submarines the one with a pump jet ­always has the tactical advantage,’’ Mr Costello said. “Australians should not assume all submarines are much the same — there are critical differences and the Australian government’s competitive evaluation process will ­determine these.”
Pump jet propulsion, which seeks to reduce noise and make the submarine more difficult to detect, is used by US Virginia-class nuclear submarines. DCNS claims that it will provide the Shortfin Barracuda with a higher tactical “silent speed” and increased ­manoeuvrability, compared with the proposed Japanese and ­German submarines that have propellers. The Shortfin Barracuda, which has not been built, is essentially a conventional version of the new 4000 tonne nuclear-powered ­Barracuda submarines that are being built at DCNS’s shipyard in Cherbourg.

[2], see disadvantage. The one of disadvantages of pump jet propulsion is less efficiency than a propeller at low speed.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S [Dec 19, 11:25AM]

Thanks for those references S

As The Australian is subscription mainly elp has helped with

Here are some forum comments casting further doubts on pump-jets for SSKs

I think this whole pump-jet matter raised by DCNS is basically marketing aimed at an ordience too un-informed to know that the power limitations and inevitable lower speed envelopes of SSKs mean pump-jets are unsuitable for SSKs.

If the DCNS marketeers are unable to point to existing SSKs currently fitted with pump-jets one can only assume that pump-jets are a simple stratagème de marketing :)



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete
US does not seem to support the French submarine at all[1]. President Holland is not as enthusiastic as Prime Ministers Merkel and Abe in submarine deal.

[1] (TOYOKEIZAI, by Osamu Takeuchi, May/05/2015, Japanese)
US has no objection to provide the combat system to Australia, one of the most important allies. However, US has strong feeling that the confidentiality of the combat system should not be accessed as much as possible at design and constructing stages of submarine. In NAVDEX 2015, the naval defense exhibition taken place in UAE, February 2015, I directly asked the representative of German or French submarine builder whether there is any difficulty in install of the US combat system. They answered “There is no problem”. However, the representative of combat system related company divulged “If possible, we would like to avoid the French submarine”, as there is a possibility the confidential information of the combat system is stolen.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at December 20, 2015 at 10:21AM]

Thanks for the toyokeizai reference.

Yes I think under the easier rules of the CEP Australia (and/or the US) can decide to exclude some contenders for unstated reasons - like caution over whether to share combat system secrets with France.

Under a tender process such a political decision to exclude would be more difficult.