Friday, December 8, 2023

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

Will 2023 be the year of the Scorpène 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, drags (landing gear and flaps) extended and on a descent plane bringing it to landing. The "short finale", for its part, refers to the few seconds which precede the 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 as well as Argentina, with significant chances that one or more of these navies choose the French submarine in the coming weeks or months to modernize their submarine capabilities.

Initially conceived 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 the Scorpene from Naval Group 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 long and with a surface displacement of 1600 to 1800 tonnes. 14 units have been ordered to date by 4 Marines, Chile for two units which entered service in 2005 and 2006, Malaysia for another two units which entered service in 2009, India for 6 ships forming the Kalvari class entered service between 2017 and 2024, and Brazil for 4 buildings, the first of which entered service in 2022, and the other 3 will join the service by 2025.

Kalvari class
Naval group demonstrated in India and Brazil its ability to support local industries to produce Scorpene submarines with the required quality standards

In addition to performances appreciated by the navies who operate these ships, and the possibility of implementing certain rare capabilities such as the SM39 Exocet medium-change anti-ship missile, the Scorpene also allowed 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 submarine export record 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, unlike this class but also the international competitors of Naval Group, the Scorpene suffers from a severe handicap, because it has never been ordered by the French Navy which operates a submarine fleet composed solely of vessels with nuclear propulsion. In any case, the Daphné record could very soon be shattered.

First in Romania, after the Ministry of Defense began, last April, the legislative process aimed at authorizing an investment of more than $100 million under 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 which entered service in 1985, which today is no longer capable of going to sea and is only used for training purposes to maintain certain skills.

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

Note that this new program could also make it possible to unblock the construction of 4 Gowind 2500 anti-submarine corvettes allocated to Naval Group in 2019, and since then 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 Corvette Gowind2500 from Naval Group
The program for the construction of 4 Gowin 2500 corvettes could benefit from the Scorpene dynamic to get out of the rut in which it has found itself for 3 years

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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