February 10, 2017

Lack of Swedish Success Selling Submarines to Scandinavia and Poland, Japan?

Pete distributed Submarine Matters' Report to Donors, Germany’s Joint Submarine Order Won the Norwegian Order on February 6, 2017.


 After reading it this Report ONeil Padilla offered some comments and questions:

1.  “The Norwegians chose well but not hardly surprising because of their History with Germans subs has been a very positive one."

2. "I still think the Swedes are chance with their A26 for Poland because SAAB are throwing in everything into it, even local construction as an incentive."

3.  "Could the Dutch go Japanese? SAAB once again teamed up with Damen to get leg up or some interest in their A26 design from the Dutch.”


1.  Indeed the Norwegians have long been customers for German built submarines:

-  This goes all the way to three A-class subs built in Germany and delivered to the Royal Norwegian
    Navy in 1914. 

-  Germany has continuously supplied subs to Norway since 1964 when Norway began
   commissioning West German Kobben class. Norway later resold some Kobbens to Denmark
   and Poland.

-  The German Ula class to Norway 1989 - present.  

2.  Sweden has not supplied many subs to its fellow Scandinavian countries or Poland. Sweden did
     lease a Nacken class to Denmark for four years. Sweden has done much better selling used subs to
     Singapore and the new Collins to Australia.

The Scandinavian Viking class project in which Sweden would likely have been main designer collapsed in 1990s-2000s.

The A26 built by Sweden's SAAB-Kockums would likely be very expensive because it is a wholly new design and Sweden has only two orders, for the Swedish Navy itself. The A26 would therefore have difficulty competing with the established TKMS 212A (known as the Todaro class in Italy) design. 

Ten 212As have been built and 4 more are planned (2 each for the German and Italian navies). With Norway's initial indication it will buy 4 this means 18 x 212s. This provides increased economies of scale, resulting in lower costs/lower price.

The main reason for lack Swedish success in European sales seems to be NATO alliance (see Members) political solidarity, push to equipment standardisation  and multi-decade strength of Germany's submarine industry:
-  Sweden's neutrality rather than joining NATO doesn't help Sweden.
-  Finland, though neutral, won't buy subs from anyone.
-  for submarines the great power political pressure and price competition from Germany and France
   towards European buyers seems stronger than the much smaller Swedish government and

The NATO reason especially impacts Poland as Poland realises it is too geographically close to the common enemy of NATO, which is Russia.

3.  NATO country, the Netherlands would also likely buy from a NATO regional alliance country. Japan offers the Netherlands no equivalent regional alliance reason to buy from Japan - a Asia-Pacific power Japan.

Another reason why NATO countries buy from NATO exporters is equipment interoperability concerns. This includes having complex weapons systems (eg. German and future Norwegian 212s) with similar performance characterists under the usual joint command scenarios.

See Kevin's comments recorded in this September 7, 2015 article which seem to indicate the Netherlands may tend to buy subs from Germany.

BUT, Japan builds good submarines of the size the Netherlands may be interested in. If Japan offered subs for competive prices and terms Japan may have a chance.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

there is another problem for Sweden and Japan selling submarines to Poland or the Netherlands: counter trade deals.

The first batch of German Type 212A have a Kongsberg combat system. The second batch have an Atlas Elektronik combat system. Now it seems the next batch will again receive a Kongsberg system.

What kind of military hardware could Sweden or Japan buy from the Netherland or Poland?

The Netherlands or Poland may build some K130 Corvettes for German Navy.

Ztev Konrad said...

Sweden is now more correctly described as 'semi-neutral'. Its dropped its high levels of defence expenditure and really could no longer enforce an 'armed neutrality' ( once that was at around 2.4% of GDP and is now down to 1.1%-http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS). As well they have side agreements to the 5 eyes agreement and acess to certain intelligence databases (XKeyscore www.svt.se/ug/read-the-snowden-documents-from-the-nsa)
Sweden was a participant in the NATO-led international contingent in the War in Libya.(www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/may/22/nato-libya-data-journalism-operations-country).

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Yes, for Sweden and Japan selling subs to Poland or the Netherlands, in terms of counter trade deals, there are indeed problems.

In terms of Japan's largest trading partners [1], Poland and Netherlands are not even in the top 15.

However Sweden is the 8th largest export destination of Netherlands goods [2]. But Sweden not being in NATO still presents a problem for the Netherlands.

Significantly 30% of Poland's exports are to Germany
and another 30% of Polish exports to the rest of Europe (which would include Sweden as much less than 30%) [3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_relations_of_Japan#List_of_the_largest_trading_partners_of_Japan

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_trading_partners_of_the_Netherlands

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Poland#Foreign_trade_and_FDI

The Kongsberg combat system appears to be a major submarine system strengthening Norway's submarine relations with Germany.

Question "What kind of military hardware could Sweden or Japan buy from the Netherland or Poland?" Not much!
- Japan likes to design/build many of its major combat systems or assemble US designed jetfighters and missiles.
- Sweden is probably the most self-reliant weapons maker of medium sized countries for army, navy, airforce
- Netherlands and Poland heavily buy from the US (in NATO) or European counties (that are also in NATO)

Here's an interesting article on Polish missiles vs Russia http://www.globalresearch.ca/natos-atlantic-council-the-marketing-arm-of-the-militarysecurity-complex/5537797



Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

A very interesting perspective on Sweden - quite an eye opener. I agree, Sweden has generally been quiet about its strategic support for democratic Western European countries since WWII (if not before).

Yes Sweden "Military expenditure" in the CIA Factbook agrees, indicating 1.1% of GDP in last three recorded years (2013, 2014 and 2015) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sw.html . Never enough to hold back the Russians.

Reportedly for the "Five Eye" sigint UKUSA treaty "there is a group of nations termed '3rd Party Partners', which share their intelligence with the 5 Eyes." Sweden is counted into the "14 Eyes" and "41 Eyes" see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes#Further_countries .
- I would guess Sweden's proximity to Russia, Belarus, especially Russian Baltic naval bases (including Kaliningrad) and passing Russian ships/subs in the Baltic would give Sweden much to monitor and exchange what it gathered.

Thanks for www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/may/22/nato-libya-data-journalism-operations-country countries participating in the 2011 invasion of Libya - very interesting. So much under-reporting of how many countries were involved in ousting Chinese oil interests from Libya.



Anonymous said...


I had a meeting today with 2 high Dutch navel officials. And was wondering if you had new Dutch post :)

At the moment the Walrus Class are being refurbished and upgraded so they can get another 10 to 15 years out of them. Lucky that they are being usd as spy ships in shallow waters and not as deep sea hunter killers with they are
designed for, So the hulls a still fine after almost 30 years. But this is the last they will do for this class.

At the momment thay are still informel talks with Germany and Sweden. To my surprise the commanders were not hellbound the make the new subs in the Netherlands, had talks in the past with navel officials with speaks of heresy it the ships were not Dutch build.

The curent time line is.
Summer 2017 after the formation of a new government, authorization to start formal talks with potential partners, if the new government want to keep the submarine service. If not start dismanteling the service in 2027.

If authorization is given.
2018 start reconnaissance for contractors
2020 sign contract
2027 launch 1st submarine

kind regarts

PS. I had a longer more detailed post in minde But that was with stuff that is classified.
I'm sorry if it seems vague ;)

Peter Coates said...

Hi Kevin

Thanks, as I have no new Dutch post I'll write one with the help of your 25/2/17 7:29 AM comment above. So thanks for your comments :)

Submarine near shores engaged in monitoring may be the mission for most SSKs and SSNs in peacetime. A full scale war could also involve projection of mines, torpedos and missiles. Australia's last known projection was in 1915. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_AE2

Having few full immersion cycles, less strain on hulls, is a good reason to prolong service lives. Some of the Collins, like HMAS Rankin, had long periods out of the water (overhaul) which permit continued operation perhaps to the late 2030s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Rankin_(SSG_78)#Operational_history

The Netherlands may have the same low volume (few subs) submarine building economic-political problems as Australia - although Netherlands ship/sub building is probably much more efficient.

So Germany and Sweden...but not France...

Other sites are:

[1] http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/sweden-and-netherlands-replacement.html


[2] http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/netherlands-needs-new-submarines-quickly.html