A Soryu (Mark 1) in a Japanese port. Will Australia buy the Soryu Mark 2? I don't know what the hull nets are (pictured) - for security to cover sonar sensors or anechoic tiles? Or to keep the tiles wet?
Previous statements by Australia's Defence Minister, David Johnston and Prime Minister Abbott pointed strongly to Japan's Soryu as being Australia's future submarine.
But statement's reported today are more ambiguous. Indicators are that the not yet launched Lithium battery batch of Soryus (which I call the Soryu Mark 2s) AND Germany's TKMS HDW 216 both seem to be in contention.
If the Australian Government is intentionally putting both contenders in doubt this is a good pro-competition strategy.
November 13, 2013 statements:
AAP via Australia's Channel 9 News reports, November 12, 2014 http://www.9news.com.au/national/2014/11/12/21/47/no-off-the-shelf-subs-for-aust-johnston#U6UexxeM0kQ8ou27.99 : [Defence Minister David Johnston is saying] Australia won't be buying submarines off-the-shelf because there aren't any in the world capable of meeting the nation's future strategic needs. Australia's future submarine needs superior characteristics in stealth, range and endurance, sensor performance and hitting power, Defence Minister David Johnston told a conference in Fremantle yesterday.
[Comment - does that rule out the current off-the-shelf Soryu Mark 1 (that contains Stirling engine AIP for which Sweden owns the intellectual property rights) from Japan? The Soryu Mark 1 also is not considered to have the 12,000 nautical mile range Australia probably wants. ]
Australia's News.com reports November 13, 2014 http://www.news.com.au/national/navy-chief-tim-barrett-says-where-future-submarine-built-is-irrelevant/story-fncynjr2-1227120999364 : "THE build location for Australia’s future submarine is irrelevant but the nation must own the design and sustain the fleet, according to Navy Chief Vice Admiral Tim Barrett.
Warning against repeating past mistakes, such as costly brawls over intellectual property, he said the country’s security depended on a fleet of “available and deployable submarines.”
“We need to have a complete knowledge of the submarine we operate, a complete understanding of the design ... a complete understanding of every aspect of the boat, its system and all their attributes,” Vice Admiral Barrett said..."
The Australian Government's more ambiguous position today:
- responds to the competitors - encouraging the Soryu builders and TKMS to reveal more about their products and intentions, and
- responds to the various interest groups in Australia - most of whom want a more deeply considered decision than the apparent previous "have Soryus built in Japan" choice. Most interest groups want most of the submarine building work to take place in Australia - both for jobs and so Australia knows more about the submarine.