May 17, 2016

S-80 - when Program Management and Combat System Integration go wrong.

On Navantia website. "Main electric motor installed on board S-81 "Isaac Peral" February 15, 2012 when all was still well.

Both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have been selected to compete to be the Combat System Integrator (CSI) for Australia’s Future Submarine. Severe problems discovered in 2013 in Spain’s build of the S-80 Isaac Peral class provide a cautionary tale of what can go wrong with overall program management and presumably CSI.

Submarine Matter’s sitemeter indicated there was a lot of Australian Government interest in 2010 with Spain’s S-80.

The S-80’s construction was progressing rapidly and smoothly:

“SPAIN’S S-80: THE SEA 1000 DARK HORSE?” Asia Pacific Defence Reporter, September 30, 2010  indicated:

The weapons payload [of the proposed S-80] includes not only [Atlas Elektonik] DMA4 torpedoes and sub-Harpoons but potentially Tactical Land Attack Missiles such as Tomahawk – something that will be of great interest for Australia.

The S-80 seems to be the first completely indigenously designed Spanish submarine for quite some time and the company has drawn on a huge amount of previous experience to come up with a leading edge product.

…A critical part of a submarine is its combat system and sensors. For this Navantia have turned to Lockheed Martin and what seems to be a version of their Submarine Integrated Combat System (SUBICS). Lockheed Martin say that this product has been derived from the company’s experience with the USN and use a form of words suggesting that it is very similar to the combat system on the ‘Virginia’ Class nuclear submarines. 

But by 2013 major problems, unforeseen by Navantia, such as the weight of what looks like the Combat System, including weapons, emerged.

Jose Matos, in “GROWING PAINS HIT SPAIN’S SUB FORCE, WARSHIPS International Fleet Review April 2016 edition, (hardcopy, paywalled) page 37 reported:

“…In May 2013 the first major production flaw was revealed: Technicians discovered that the submarine’s weight was [up to 100 tons] greater than originally designed and unevenly distributed.

The initial calculations were much lower than the final figures since the original figures did not account for the weight of the weapons and electronics suite [sounds like the Combat System], or features later introduced in the crew berthing areas….

[Navantia would need to] reduce the submarine’s total weight or increase its length, to more optimally distribute the excess weight. They opted to do the latter and increased the length by nearly ten per cent, from 71 to 78 metres.”

As the US AN/BYG-1 Combat System to be integrated into the Shortfin will likely be heavier than the SUBTICS? Combat System for Barracuda SSN, special care will be needed on weight and balance.



Anonymous said...

What can I say if the CAD/CAE design did not take into account the weight of the weapons and combat system. Since those weights amount to a significant Zero, even the best program manager cannot do much unless it can be sold as a submarine for tourists (then there is no need for weapons and combat system).

Still, having acquired plenty of grey hairs with multi vendor inter-operability on open standards, I can say integration of a proprietary US combat system with French proprietary sensors and French/other countries' proprietary weapons through proprietary interfaces will be very complex to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

In your article you compare the integration of US system in the Navantia S-80 (which is a Scorpene design) with the the integration of US system in the DCNS Barracuda.

But you can't compare Navantia with DCNS.
They don't have the same level of expertise and experience in submarine's matters.

Before the Scorpene, Navantia was unable to build a submarine of their own.
The Scorpene was mainly a DCNS design.


MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

The S-80 uses the US system in quite a different way. The US provides the sensor suits but Spain develops the combat system and consoles.

This way is quite easy because the Spanish system was not existing before and "just" developed" on top.

To connect to existing systems with maybe different design philosophies could be hell.

The English version of S-80 wikipedia is not very well. There are no 3 bio methanol engines with 1,200 kW each. These are just standard MTU 396 SE maybe able to burn methanol.

Interesting from the Spanish Wikipedia version are
- fuel cells by UTC Power, USA
- lithium batteries by Exide Technologies, USA, build by Spanish Tudor (owned by Exide)
- submerged endurance of 20 to 30 days at 4 kn.
- capable of launching cruise missiles and sub Harpoon (horizontal).