December 15, 2014

Swedish Bid for Australian Future Submarine Selection

Artist's conception of a Swedish A26 submarine operating in littoral waters while deploying special forces divers. Graphic courtesy of Saab site .

Sweden's early December 2014 claims might be summarised as:

Sweden is designing the A26 which will be around 2,000 ton surfaced. Australia’s government indicated it has received an unsolicited bid from Saab for an enlarged design. Sweden's claims that this includes a lower price than its competitors. Sweden would facilitate the smooth flow of Japanese submarine [Stirling air independent propulsion (AIP)] technology from the Soryu Class sub. Sweden also promises substantial technology transfer and industrial offsets for Australia, including jobs in Adelaide during the build phase.

See more here:
Sweden wasn’t part of the Australian government’s initial submarine evaluations, because Kockums was barred from export activities by its then corporate parent TKMS. This also prevented Sweden from bidding for Singapore's 2013 two SSK selection - subsequently won by Germany's HDW [as the 218SG proposal]. Saab Kockums is also offering to take ASC and Australian Navy engineers and technicians to work on its new A26 design in Sweden.

The current A26 design or an enlarged Australian version might be competitive with the German Type 214 or enlarged Type 216 respectively. Sweden's Saab and its subsidiary Kockums need to develop the A26 rapidly not only to be competitive in submarine sales but to face the resurgent Russian threat.

France (offering the existing Scorpene and overweight 4,700 ton (surfaced) "conventional version" of the Barracuda SSN) has been distrusted by Anglo counties in the long term and in the short term due to the proposed sale of Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia.

Sweden overall has national knowledge (including FMV and Kockums) of submarine building but Sweden hasn't built submarines (the Gotlands) since 1996 or arguably Collins since 2001. Kockums under German control heavily modified two ex-Västergötland class subs - relaunching them in 2009 and 2010 for Singapore as two AIP equipped Archer class subs.

On lowest price claims - price is very elastic - more an artform of itemisation than an accounting science.

Given the Soryu is less than 3,000 tons surfaced Australia is probably not wedded to 4,000 ton surfaced designs anymore.

Japan may be extricating itself from Swedish intellectual property issues by leaving Stirling AIPs out of the Soryu Mark 2s.

Technology transfer and training are strengths with the European contenders - something probably difficult for Japan.

Some offsets are probably a necessary political and technical benefit or burden for the Australian Government vis a vis South Australia and unions.



Anonymous said...

Kockums "was trapped and suppressed within TKMS"? - LOL - Without TKMS Kockums would have been out of business. Just check the facts that Kockums was nearly finished before being sold to HDW. There are gaps between last Gotland-class submarine in 1996 and refits of Västergötland-class submarines in 2003 (2 as Södermanland-class) and 2009 (2 as Archer-class).

Back on the matter. Why should Australia buy an enlarged A26 submarine? There are nice CGIs out there "design phase" but that is all.

E.g. a bigger tube is something not unknown to already existing submarines. Israeli Dolphin2 class have four 26 inch tubes and six 21 inch standard tubes. Why not one 60 inch tube but for all 12 submarines?

Saab will promise anything like Kockums did last time even a lower price. Did that worked last time?

What about a 78 m long Dolphin3-class at ~ 2,500 t surfaced with MTU 4000 engines to handle lithium batteries? MTU 4000 will be available from 2016 on.

What diesel engines Saab is going to use? The reliable Garden Island-Hedemora engines as used on Collins-class or MTU diesel just like on Gotland-class?

Btw. the link above shows "maintenance" on a Sterling engine. The side with the cut corner should be at the outboard side and once inside a submarine hard to reach.

Fuel cell maintenance could be done outside the submarine.
Fuel cells are easy to replace without cutting the hull.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Yes Swedish interests must have had sound reasons for selling Kockums to HDW.

Regarding 1996 I was referring to the last Complete submarine Sweden has built. It would be important for Australia to choose a prime contractor that has built a complete sub recently (like Japan, Germany and France) - not 18 years ago.

Australia may not be interested in AIP - preferring extra Lithium-ion battery capacity instead.

I thought a 60inch (diameter?) tube would be more a verticle launch system than horizontal?

Is a ~ 2,500 t (surfaced) Dolphin 3 class sub being considered by Germany? To build a Dolphin 3 could plugs totaling 500 tons be added to a 2,000 t Dolphin 2 design? The extra 500 t would particularly be for VLS and extra diesel fuel to bring range to 22,000 kms? Also 5-10 more torpedos or missiles.



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

the Dolphin3 class was simple math:
Dolphin1 58 m length at 1,650 t
Dolphin2 68 m length at 2,050 t
Dolphin3 78 m length at 2,450 t

According to the latest DCNS video the endurances are as follows:

Lithium battery: 7 days submerged
MESMA: 14 days submerged
Fuel cells: 21 days submerged

Stirling engine: somewhere between fuel cells and MESMA according to efficiency

The 60 inch tube (1.5 m wide and 6 m long) is a basic design of the A26 to deliver divers and support vehicles. My point is four 26 inch tubes could be easily replaced by one 60 inch tube:
(Nice pics from dol01 to dol27)

The vertical multi purpose lock (VMPL) has only one real advantage to launch something vertical. The 2.5 m diameter is only possible on 8 m wide hull. On the other side I can see no real obstacle to build a 2.5 m wide horizontal tube on a 6 m wide hull.

For most other situation a big horizontal tube is better. Content of the tube could be unloaded into the torpedo room for maintenance. In situation you won’t need big content a rack for torpedoes could be useful (4 additional torpedoes at 1.5 m diameter, 7 additional weapons for 2 m and 14 at 2.5 m), additional storage or a rescue capsule for the whole crew. The Type 214 is even smaller than Dolphin class but still 3 standard tubes could be stacked on top of each other. The two Dolphin-class submarine pictures show that there is at least space for 2 additional tubes at each side of a big lock replacing 3 standard tubes. Therefore at least a 2 m horizontal lock should be feasible for Dolphin3-class with 4 additional standard tubes.

A submarine with or without VMPL would be different according to length. A submarine with or without a horizontal lock has just a different count of standard tubes.

The best feature for a horizontal tube is you won’t need much more room! Most space of torpedo tubes is outside the pressure hull and sonar is rather small today (well ballast tanks…).

How many weapons does RAAN use to be launched only vertical like SLBMs?

A new conclusion for me: a VMPL is only useful in case you want to launch pack of SLBMs. In any other case a big horizontal tube is more useful.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for your comment. I have addressed the issues you cover in an article I wrote today (December 10, 2014) "Australian Future Submarine Choices - Need for a Plan B."