May 10, 2016
Why DCNS Won - Some reasons not yet covered in the media.
This diagram reflects the difference in detail between DCNS bids and publically assumed details. For example: Many people would be happy with "Weight 4,500 tonnes" but those closer to submarine issues would expect two figures eg. "displacement surfaced" and "displacement submerged". Some closer to DCNS insist the eventual Shortfin length will be "94" meters, not "97" meters. Also all figures are likely dependent on the results of a three year design contract that might be finally signed-off as late as 2020. (Diagram courtesy Financial Times).
"BK" in https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19245896&postID=3317250524802114105 [7/5/16 2:49 PM] asked a question along the lines:
The difference between the DCNS and TKMS bids were said to be significant, others spoke of marginal. What is your take on that - was there really such a big difference in the two bids (apart from nuclear of course)?"
If I had the CEP Assessment Team's access to the TKMS and DCNS extensive bid documents, and unrecorded verbal assurances between senior negotiators (and politicians), I could more easily identify the big differences. This is also noting DCNS and TKMS would have offered the CEP Team vastly more detail than will ever be publically available. Some major DCNS/TKMS response specifications may vary significantly from the published specifications for the Shortfin/Type 216 concepts.
That said the following may be major reasons why DCNS won:
In terms of due diligence (with taxpayers money) there would be attention to whether DCNS offered the lowest upfront bid to build 12 subs or maybe for the first batch of 6.
- Australian Senate Commitees would object to revelations that any French bid was many $Billions higher than TKMS or Japanese bids.
- It is possible the French Government will (or has promised to) cross-subsidise DCNS to achieve the lowest bid. Money can be recouped (with internal "loan" repaid) through sustainment charges (eg. spares) placed on Australia down the track.
As the April 26, 2016 announcement that DCNS won is a Pre July 2, 2016 Election announcement for the Turnbull Government then Turnbull would need to feel confident that South Australian voters (and broader Australian voters) would like the announced choice.
- Turnbull would need to be confident DCNS Australia and DCNS Internatonal, would not make any significant public relations mistakes before the Election.
TKMS advantages of an advanced air independent propulsion (AIP) system and small crew may not have been valued highly by the CEP assessors.
- this is noting there is little evidence Australia values AIP, since the 1980s to the present day, and
- there appears to be an assumption, probably valid, that the long missions (7 weeks?) Australia subs go on require large crews (about 60) to avoid sleep disrupted exhaustion.
The larger size of the DCNS Shortfin (compared to the TKMS Type 216) sub provides for greater capability upgrades, more fuel for greater range at 12 knots(?) snorting, more "heavyweight" (torpedo and missile) shots, more special forces in addition to the 60 crew.
- this is not discounting the difficulty of converting a nuclear sub into a conventional one (with diesel propulsion and fuel tanks (with many buoyancy adjustments))
A major technical difference is that DCNS will in 2017 be able to point to the very similar Barracuda SSN hull as a vehicle for sonic and electronic emissions/stealth tests about a decade before such tests could be made on a TKMS 216.
Also a TKMS 216 could only be tested in the same way AFTER Australia had bought 216s.
DCNS is dedicated to the very similar Barracuda SSN hulls so, Australia in buying Shortfins, won't have yet another ORPHAN submarine the Collins (for testing and spares) turned out to be.
It still needs to be said that TKMS can offer no nuclear option if Australia changes its mind and (say, in 2025) actually wants "regionally superior" submarines, especially if China and/or Putin become threatening.
- This might mean Australia would want the Barracuda SSN for the first batch of 6 (2030 - 2040) and/or for a second batch of 6 (2040 - 2050) Nuclear Barracuda option for second batch.
- putting complacency aside, an isolationist US alliance posture could emerge under yet another geo-political threat - one President Trump (see Trump's most detailed speech on foreign policy, of April 27, 2016)
I'll describe some lesser known reasons Japan didn't win next week
Note a crew of "33" (possible for a one week (on average) mission for such a large sub) probably did not offer TKMS a competitive advantage. 33 is very likely smaller than Australia wants. (Diagram courtesy Financial Times)
Posted by Peter Coates