January 26, 2017

Poland Signalling a DCNS or TKMS Submarine Preference

Submarine acquisitions are multi-year processes. Here is a DCNS - (Xavier of) Navy Recognition video, uploaded September 2, 2015, responding to the Polish sub replacement competition.

Poland is seeking a submarine replacement (for its aging 450 ton TKMS Kobben class) from:

-  DCNS, with Reuters, January 25, 2017 reporting:
   “Poland's state-run defense firm PGZ has signed a memorandum of understanding with French
    military shipbuilder DCNS that could allow them to work together on building submarines in
    Poland, PGZ said in a statement.”


-  TKMS. Submarine Matters reported July 6, 2016:
    "In June 2016 Germany and Poland signed an MoU to establish a joint submarine operating
    command to be based in Glucksburg, Germany...The authority may increase the chances that
    Poland will purchase German TKMS submarines - maybe new build Type 212As,
    Type 210mods or used Ula class subs."

Poland seems to be keeping DCNS and TKMS guessing in order to, of course, extract the best deals from them. They may well be offering lower tonnage range DCNS Scorpenes (like the 1000) vs small version TKMS (Type 214s or 210mods). With DCNS and TKMS both offering:

-  reformer fuel cell AIP, and

-  Tomahawk style, torpedo tube launched, land attack cruise missiles, to make the Russians nervous.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,
like many things DCNS offers the Scorpene 1000 is just CGI. There maybe a more detailed plans due to an offer for Indonesia. Indonesia preferred South Korean build Type 209. Construction started in 2012 and first submarine delivered in 2015. Still on trails and not commissioned so far.

Other points are Poland would be the unique Scorpene 1000 user. - Spare parts? - Kiel is just 400 nm away from Gdansk.

As a show of force Poland will not order small submarines. So rather Type 212A or full sized Scorpenes than a smaller Type.

According to several friends from Poland, the current government is very corrupt. So don't expect a decision based on requirements.


Anonymous said...

Obviouly, 212A is much better than Sscorpene. Non-magnetic hull of 212A is very effective to hide its magnetic finger print in shallow water, and fuel cell system ensures long range/time underwater surveillance.

By the way, was the bribery suspicion of submarine in Malaysia resolved? Does someone still have bribe torpedo?

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
Did you hear, looks like Russia is offering the Philippines, the improved Kilo class Submarine. What's your take on all this.

Evaluating DND Russian Offer of Diesel-Electric Submarines

DND evaluating Russian offer of diesel-electric submarines

DND evaluating Russian offer of diesel-electric submarines

Peter Coates said...


I'll shift your comment to today's http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/philippines-may-buy-russian-subs-and.html for a response.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Anonymous 27/1/17 2:12 PM,

there is something to remember about Type 212A and Scorpene. They are not built in mind for operations in real shallow waters.

One task for Poland would be to prevent Russian ships from leaving Kaliningrad (Pilau) or Pionerski to the north. The other task is to take care of ships or submarines passing Gotland on route to Poland. Right here the Baltic Sea has its greatest depths. Even right for in front of Pilau about 100 m. Just the coastline north to Pionerski is shallow. No problem with a torpedo going 50 kn for at least 50 km. The submarine can stay in deep waters. No problem for Type 212A or Scorpene. Due to the range of cruise missiles the submarines could even fire Tomahawks right from this position with Moskva well within reach.

The problem may be to operate right in front of Saint Petersburg where the sea is just about 30 m deep. The question is, does Poland need to operate there? Tallinn and Helsinki are located right there so submarines are not required to spy.

The old German Type 206 with 500 t displacement was thought for operations at water depths of 20 m in the coastal zone between the former two Germanys.

I still would recommend a smaller Type 210mod. It is better to distribute weapons over many submarines than to concentrate them on a few ones. Range is not that big problem within the Baltic Seas.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 27/1/17 1:23 AM and 27/1/17 9:24 PM]

Yep I imagine that DCNS and TKMS would create computer generated imagery (CGI) for Poland.

Even with a full size Scorpene Poland may need to be confident DCNS has developed satisfactory 2nd or 3rd fuel cell AIP. This is noting Spain has now admitted Spain has failed to develop advanced AIP.

Hard to say where Indonesia will go with any second order of submarines (South Korea, France, Russia?). Indonesia is buying 2 or 3 Chang Bogo (209s) from South Korea. Buying more from South Korea would make sense but this offers fewer chances for Indonesian officials to invent many approval “commissions” hurdles.

If Poland sees its future subs mainly as long range cruise missile (SLCM) carriers this would run counter to shallow water capabilities.

I’m guessing Poland could use four x future 212/214APs or Scorpene Ps as platforms to fire long rang SLCMs from patches of Baltic deep water in:
- land attack against Kaliningrad or St Petersburg or
- long range anti-shipping (ASCM). Currently Poland has no long range sub launched ASCMs.

Six Type 210mods might also be SLCM firing possibilities, maybe with just 14 missiles and torpedos, if the same warload as the Ulas/210s is used https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ula-class_submarine



Anonymous said...


I love your [ blog :) ]

Polish MOD has issued a RFI for a 2000 ton class submarine already some years ago (2013). There are no plans to purchase any smaller size submarines for the Polish Navy.

The new subs will be either Scorpene or Type 212A. Saab is also offering its not yet built A26, but there are little chances for it to be selected, given Saab's (Kockums) lack of recent experience in submarine construction, lack of positive transfer of technology experience and lack of experience in cruise missile integration.

Long range antishipping cruise missiles would be of no use on the Baltic Sea. Polish Navy is already equipped with RBS-15 and NSM missiles with 170-200 range - plenty sufficient for its AO.

As for use as a SLCM platform intended by the Polish MOD, Scorpene seems to have a clear advantage (18 weapons, 2 Diesel engines + AIP, easy to integrate with NCM cruise missiles, sold as a package, no strings attached concerning target selection and mission planning) over type 212A (12 weapons, single Diesel engine + AIP, big doubts about availability of Tomahawk missiles and their conditions of use by the Polish armed forces, lack of experience in cruise missile integration by TKMS).

Either way, it is announced that a decision will be taken this year.



Peter Coates said...

Thanks w

Information from regional submarine experts is always welcome at Submarine Matters.



Josh said...

It would seem the Scorpene has a clear advantage in terms of availability and firepower. More over against the Russians in general and in the Baltic particularly, silent running likely isn't an issue - it seems unlikely the Russian navy would be able to mount a very capable ASW effort there given unfriendly land based air proximity, listening conditions, and the age of their own platforms compared to new build Western boats.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

Yes I agree.

And DCNS may be offering Scorpenes at a very attractive low price to Poland. This is in the context that the TKMS 212 seems to have won the Norwegian deal, as reported in the last 24 hours at http://www.thelocal.no/20170203/norway-bulks-up-on-german-subs-after-unpredictable-russia-stalks-the-border

Also significant is Poland's interest in long range land attack cruise missiles to make Russia nervous. As "w" [at 2/2/17 1:24 PM] points out:

- the TKMS 212 only has 12 or 13 heavyweight shots (maybe 4 missiles, 8 torpedos), given the heavy AIP that 212s carry, while

- Scorpene has the attractive advantage of carrying 18 heavyweight shots:
= maybe 9 missiles + 9 torpedos
= this is possible because Scorpenes are not carrying heavy AIP equipment + and even more the heavy Methanol and LOX propellent.



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,
you can describe the current government as stupid, inexperienced, positions filled by party colleagues (without competence), but you certainly can not describe it as corrupt. Very corrupt it was the previous government (before 2015). The current gov will not buy submarines for financial reasons and what is important due to the lack of a developed doctrine of the use of the navy and in particular submarines.

Peter Coates said...

Hi J [at 17/3/18 10:23 PM ]

Thanks for the information.

Yes it would have been a huge leap for Poland in cost to buy or lease 3 or so DCNS/Navaal Group or TKMS 1,000+ tonne (surfaced) submarines.

Any Polish submarine squadron doctrine of firing say 3 x 9 = 27 land attack cruise missiles at main enemy Russia would cause Russia little damage while inflaming Russian strategic pressure on Poland. Russia's nuclear retaliatory capability always would be a worry.

Also the threat from Russia/Belarus is mainly a land threat for which Polish submarines or surface fleet can contribute little.

The submarine leap would been from around the 5 cheap, used Kobben 435 tonners https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobben-class_submarine#Vessels to large new submarines that would each cost more than the 5 Kobbens.