Romania, Philippines, Argentina, Indonesia…: Naval Group's Scorpene submarine on short final in several countries

Will 2023 be the year of the Scorpene submarine? We can think so, since the Naval group ship is in the short final in at least 5 international competitions.

In aeronautics, the term "final" designates the trajectory of an aircraft once it is aligned with the runway, gears (landing gear and flaps) extended and on a glide path leading to landing. The "short final", meanwhile, refers to the few seconds before touchdown, when the landing is, so to speak, inevitable.

This term is in fact perfectly suited to describe the situation in which Naval Group's Scorpene conventional submarine finds itself today in several international competitions, in Romania, the Philippines, Indonesia and Argentina, with significant chances that one or more of these navies choose the French submarine in the weeks or months to come to modernize their underwater capabilities.

Initially designed in a joint project between the French DCNS and the Spanish Navantia for the replacement of the Agosta submarines of the Spanish Navy, the program was divided against a backdrop of accusations of theft of intellectual property in the mid-2000s between the two European manufacturers, to give Naval Group's Scorpene on the one hand, and the Spanish S-80 on the other.

The Scorpene model actually consists of several vessels ranging from 60 to 82 meters in length and a displacement of 1600 to 1800 tons on the surface. It has been ordered to date in 14 copies by 4 Marines, Chile for two units entered into service in 2005 and 2006, Malaysia for again two units entered into service in 2009, India for 6 ships forming the Kalvari class entered into service between 2017 and 2024, and Brazil for 4 buildings, the first of which entered into service in 2022, and the 3 others will join the service by 2025.

Kalvari class Submarine fleet | Air Independent Propulsion AIP | Defense Analysis
Naval group has demonstrated in India and Brazil its ability to support local industries to produce Scorpene submarines with the required quality standards

In addition to the performances appreciated by the navies who operate these ships, and the possibility of implementing certain rare capabilities such as the SM39 Exocet medium-changing anti-ship missile, the Scorpene has also enabled Naval Group to demonstrate its mastery of local construction and technology transfers, particularly in India and Brazil.

In fact, today, the Scorpene flirts with the export record for submarines in the history of Naval Group with the 15 Daphne class submarines exported between 1967 and 1975 to Spain, Portugal, Pakistan and South Africa.

However, contrary to this class but also to the international competitors of Naval Group, the Scorpene suffers from a severe handicap, because it has never been ordered by the French Navy which implements a submarine fleet composed solely of buildings with nuclear propulsion. Be that as it may, the Daphne record could very soon be shattered.

In Romania first, after the Ministry of Defense started the legislative process last April aimed at authorize an investment of more than $100m on the 2023 defense finance law, precisely for the start of a program for the construction of 2 or 3 submarines in order to replace its only submersible, the Delfinul, a Soviet Kilo model entered into service in 1985, which today is no longer suitable for going to sea and is only used for training purposes to maintain certain skills.

If the Scorpene and Naval Group are not mentioned by name in the parliamentary procedure, it is however based on negotiations started several years ago between Bucharest and Naval Group. considered as very advanced through various Romanian and French indiscretions on this subject.

It should be noted that this new program could also make it possible to unlock the construction of 4 Gowind 2500 anti-submarine corvettes attributed to Naval Group in 2019, and since entangled in a disagreement between the Romanian shipyard supposed to build the ships, and Naval Group which must carry out technology transfers but also assume responsibility for the compliance of the 4 vessels.

Egyptian Naval Group Corvette Gowind2500 Submarine Fleet | Air Independent Propulsion AIP | Defense Analysis
The program for the construction of 4 Gowin 2500 corvettes could take advantage of the Scorpene dynamic to get out of the rut in which it has been for 3 years

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