The Minister of the French Armed Forces, Florence Parly, is traveling to India this weekend to meet her Indian counterpart Shri Rajnath Singh, as well as other officials from New Delhi, in order to discuss several subjects in the field of cooperation strategic and industrial between the two countries, long-standing partners and allies. In addition to the question of a possible additional order for Rafale aircraft, cooperation in the field of helicopters with a possible contract to equip the Indian Coast Guard with Caracal helicopters, and questions of strategic cooperation in the theater Pacific disrupted in recent months both by China and by the new Aukus alliance bringing together the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, the French Minister would also have the mandate to discuss with her Indian counterpart possible cooperation between the two countries in the field of nuclear attack submarines , and even a possible export of the Barracuda, the most modern of French nuclear attack submarines. At the same time, some 4,000 km away, other negotiations are reportedly underway between France and this time the South Korean authorities, in order to allow Seoul to equip its new AIP KSS-III propulsion submarines with a locally made nuclear boiler room. Obviously, the French authorities, as well as Naval Group, are on the offensive in the field of exporting nuclear-powered attack submarines.
The pitiful episode of the cancellation of the Australian contract for the design of 12 conventionally powered Shortfin Barracuda submarines by the French Naval Group, and their replacement by 8 American or British nuclear attack submarines of the same model and schedule undetermined , caused a lot of ink to flow last September. For some analysts, it was even a critical blow for Naval Group, which called for a reorganization of the military submarine production sector in Europe. It may well be, however, that the effects of this cancellation, and of the US-UK decision to accept the export sale of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, have created an extremely favorable context for the French naval group, likely to establish itself in this emerging but very promising market.
Indeed, by authorizing the export of nuclear-powered submarines, Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison have opened a door previously kept firmly closed by the 5 members of the United Nations Security Council, custodians of this very technology. particular. Through a very questionable argument and the exploitation of a gaping loophole in the Non-Proliferation Treaty , the 3 countries justified this development, breaking 40 years of cordial understanding in this area, and now paving the way for other countries with this know-how, Russia, China and France, to offer the design of nuclear-powered submarines on the export market.
Nuclear propulsion technology offers many advantages for a submarine, whether attack, i.e. designed to destroy enemy ships and submarines, or missile launcher, i.e. say carrying ballistic missiles for nuclear deterrence. Contrary to what is sometimes put forward, it does not make submarines more discreet, in the sense of quieter, it would even be the opposite, since a battery-powered submarine does not emit any parasitic noise unlike those emitted by the nuclear boiler room. On the other hand, a nuclear-powered submarine has a very significant and almost unlimited source of energy, allowing the ship to evolve at high speed over a very long period of time, without having to resurface. A conventional submarine, for its part, only has the energy stored in its batteries, so that it can either go quickly or stay submerged for a long time (from several days to several weeks for the most advanced AIP systems). efficient), but not both. It is therefore common to say that a nuclear submarine can do everything that a conventional submarine can do, but that the opposite is not true. And the more extensive the theater of operations, as in the case of the Pacific or Indian theater, the more nuclear propulsion is justified for the navies having to operate there.
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