After Rafale and the Caesar, the Scorpene from Naval Group could be the star of French defense exports in 2023

When it comes to exporting French defense equipment, it is common to refer to certain privileged areas, such as combat aircraft with the immense success of the family of Mirage fighter aircraft, Alouette, Dauphin and Super Puma, or even armored vehicles like the AMX-13 or the VAB.

In recent years, the hunter Rafale of Dassault Aviation, today the most exported European fighter of its generation, and Nexter's CAESAR cannon, which has become one of the pillars of European defense and which demonstrates its great effectiveness every day in Ukraine, made the headlines. media on the export of defense equipment. However, there is another area of ​​excellence in the French defense industry, that of submarines.

Thus, from 1958, Daphne class submarines 15 copies were exported for the Portuguese, South African, Spanish and Pakistani navies, while its successor, the Agosta, was exported in 9 copies by the Pakistani and Spanish navies, all still in service.

Despite the Australian episode about the 12 Attack-class submarines, and its cancellation in 2021 in favor of a nuclear-powered model designed under the Aukus alliance, Naval Group remains a major player in the field of conventionally powered attack submarines on the international scene.

Indeed, the successor to the Agosta, the Scorpene, has been exported to 14 copies to 4 Navies in the world to date: the Chilean Navy for two copies entered into service in 2005 and 2006, the Malaysian Navy for two ships which entered service in 2009, the Indian Navy for 6 submersibles which entered service between 2017 and 2023, and Brazil for 4 submarines which are due to enter service by 2026.

In fact, the Scorpene today is unquestionably a great success for Naval Group, having almost equaled the export record of the Daphne, even though unlike the two previous models, this one was neither acquired nor put implemented by the French Navy, which switched to an entirely nuclear submarine fleet at the end of the 90s with the withdrawal of the last French Agostas.

Before the Scorpene, the Daphne submarine had the record for French exports
The Daphne was both a great technological success and the first export success of French naval construction in terms of post-war submarines.

Despite its success, Naval Group remains today sometimes perceived as an outsider in major international competitions, facing the two giants in the field, the German TKMS and its 61 Type 209s exported between 1971 and 2021 to 13 navies, followed by the Type 214 exported to 24 copies for 4 Marines from 2007; and the Russian Rubin with the 877/636.3 Kilo class exported to almost 40 copies in 8 navies.

In addition, as said before, the episode of the cancellation of the super contract SEA1000 for the construction of 12 conventional ocean-going Shortfin Barracuda submarines derived from the nuclear-powered submarine Suffren, severely damaged the image of the French shipbuilder in public opinion, including in France. But things could quickly change in 2023, when 3, maybe 4 Marines could acquire the Scorpene, to the point of being able to exceed exports of the German Type 214!

After having ordered, in 2019, 4 Gowind 2500 type corvettes from the Naval Group, Bucharest indeed signed, last July, a Memorandum of Understanding or MoU, to acquire two Scorpene type submarines with France. Romania also seems quite determined to bring the negotiations to a rapid conclusion on this subject, the country's authorities having openly asked Paris last December to speed up this area.


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