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Reprinted with permission from AMI HOT NEWS, an internet publication AMI International, PO Box 30, Bremerton, Washington, 98337.

From the November 2004 Issue

INDIA-Akula SSN Lease

As of early November 2004, it appears that Russia and India are on the brink of signing a deal for the lease of one Akula II class submarine to the Indian Navy. The deal is worth an estimated US$500M for a ten-year period (although some reports estimate the price ten times higher), which is expected to begin in 2007. The submarine in question, RYS, began construction in Russia in 2003 and was originally intended for the Russian Navy.

However, soon after construction started, Russia decided to finish the submarine for lease to a foreign navy. The submarine lease has been in negotiations since the late 1990s as part of the package with the Gorshkov class aircraft carrier sale, which was recently completed in January 2004. Following the Gorshkov transaction in early 2004, India began negotiating in earnest for a nuclear submarine in order to bridge the gap of nuclear trained personnel until the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) (Indian nuclear submarine) enters service after 2011. The deal is expected to be finalized when President Putin visits India in 2005.

For the latest information on the Akula submarine lease, see AMI International’s India Decommissioning, Transfers & Receipts Section at

RUSSIA -First Lada Submarine Launched

On 28 October 2004, the first boat of the Lada class diesel-electric submarine, SAINT PETERSBURG, was launched at the Admiralty Shipyards in Saint Petersburg nearly a year and a half behind schedule. Laid down in 1997 and originally scheduled to be launched in May 2003 to coincide with the 3001& anniversary of Saint Petersburg, the construction of the boat was delayed due to “technical and financial problems.”

Launching of the 677 Lada class marks the first of a new generation of diesel submarines for the Russian Navy designed by the Rubin Design Bureau with more than I 00 subcontractors and numerous new technology systems. Scheduled for sea trials in the Baltic Sea in 2005, SAINT PETERSBURG will join the Russian Navy about six months later.

The Lada class displaces around 2500t when submerged. SAINT PETERSBURG boasts the Klub missile complex as well as a newly designed radar, weapon system and main electric plant. The 67-meter (219.8ft) submarine also has a new, larger passive sonar array, non-penetrating masts (with the exception of the attack periscope) and complete anechoic coating on the hull. It is equipped with six torpedo tubes capable of launching the newest generation torpedoes as well as cruise missiles and can carry up to eighteen weapons in a mixed load-out.

This new class of submarine marks a significant step in diesel submarine construction as well as punctuates the statements from Russian President Vladimir Putin that he fully intends to rebuild the Navy to its levels in Russia’s days of glory although the pace will probably be considerably slower than planned by President Putin and the Navy.

It must be remembered that the Russian Navy is attempting to move forward on the diesel powered Lada class as well as the nuclear-powered Akula and Yasen classes, which is probably much too aggressive for the Russian Navy as it continues to suffer from severe under-funding that began after the breakup of the former Soviet Union in 1990.

For the latest information on this project, see AMI International ‘s Saint Petersburg (Lada -Project 677) Class Conventionally Powered Attack Submarine (SS) project report at:

From the December 2004 Issue

Egypt-German Type 206 Submarines for the Egyptian Navy

Reporting on 12 December 2004 indicates that Germany is in negotiations with Egypt concerning the sale of two Type 206A class submarines. The German Navy is beginning to take delivery of its first Type 2 I 2A submarines and is beginning to offer its 11 type 206s on the international market.

The prospective deal was announced by German Defense Minister Peter Struck as a step to deepen the defense cooperation between the two countries. Although still being negotiated, it is estimated that the deal can be concluded with the transfer of the two units by the end of 2005. The Egyptian Navy Submarine Force presently consists of four Improved Romeo class submarines built in China from 1982 through 1984, and then later modernized with Western weapons sensor systems.

This is the second major transaction between the German Ministry of Defense and Egypt since 2003 when the Egyptian Navy acquired five decommissioning Tiger class (Type 148) fast attack craft (FAC) from the German Navy. This burgeoning relationship has allowed the Egyptian sea service to access a new market for relatively modem used vessels at low cost, while at the same time benefiting the German Ministry of Defense decommissioning and disposal expenses for its retiring vessels.

Egypt has been attempting to replace its current force with a Western Submarine Force since the early 1990s. In 2001 Egypt was very close to signing a deal with Northrop Grumman (Ingalls) for the construction of new submarines. However, as the US Navy was working through the approvals, the President of the U.S. announced his intention to sell submarines to Taiwan (see Taiwan article this issue) and Egypt’s program came to a full stop and became inextricably linked to the Taiwanese program. So Egypt, having still an unfulfilled requirement, has been compelled to seek an alternative solution. The Type 206s ( 12 in service), will allow Egypt to acquire additional units in the future should its desire to buy new submarines with FMS money in the US remain stymied.

Taking into consideration that Egypt could eventually procure at least four of the Type 206s, the seven remaining units will also probably be offered for resale. Prospective candidates could include Algeria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, and Thailand.

TAIWAN -Update on the Submarine Program

As of mid-December 2004, it appears that President Chen Shuibian (Democratic Progressive Party -OPP) continues to lose political power in Taiwan. Chen Shuibian, winning the Presidential election in March by a slim majority, will continue to face a Parliament that is still controlled by the opposition Nationalist Party (Kuomintang). Mid-December elections results show the Nationalist Party (opposition) still controlling Parliament by 114-105 seats, forcing President Chen Shuibian to resign his post as OPP Chairman.

With Parliament still controlled by the opposition and President Chen Shui-bian’s political support eroding, it can be expected that the special funding package ofUS$ I 8. I B for new weapons from the US will face tough resistance. The new Parliament is expected to meet in February 2005 and funding package will certainly be the main issue. Of all the programs proposed by the Bush Administration in 200 I, only the Kidd class destroyer transfer has been funded by Taiwan. The other proposed programs including the eight diesel-electric submarines, twelve P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), as well as the Patriot PAC-3 missile system continue to face opposition from the Parliament, being argued for the better part of three years.

The most controversial program of those remaining is the diesel-electric submarine since it faces many more hurdles and questions including final price and foreign/domestic production. Parliament believes that indigenous production would be considerably higher than if produced by a foreign yard, and rumors indicate that the China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) appears to be reconsidering their position. Parliament also believes that the price quoted by the US is rather pricey as well (US$4B for 8 units).

The biggest questions still posed are what design will be built and at what location? Much has been written on this issue, and the facts remain the same, the US is expected to be the primary supplier, yet has not constructed a diesel submarine in the US since the 1960s and has not developed any modern designs. Other nations such as Germany (Taiwan favors the German Type 209), France and the Netherlands have developed new designs although they appear to be unwilling to transfer their designs to the US for fear of retribution by the Peoples Republic of China. This must also be considered against the backdrop that the US Navy does not wish to see any conventional submarines built by US shipyards.

Additionally, prospective US submarine builders such as Northrop Grumman and Electric Boat have to consider the large investment to open a submarine line for conventional submarines. An eight unit line for the Taiwanese is not considered a wise investment, which is why in many circles the Egyptians and the Israelis, also having difficulty in acquiring diesel submarines, have been considering joining the program. A program that will probably expand to as many as fourteen or sixteen units may be considered a worthy investment for a US builder, if all three nations (Taiwan, Egypt and Israel) agree on the same design, whether it is a new US (which will add significantly to the cost) or a foreign designer such as IZAR, HDW or DCN allowing the US to import a design for export to Taiwan.

Other locations such as IZAR in Spain and even Argentina (started but never completed two Type 209s in the 1980s) have not been overlooked as possible construction sites. However, there are still the basic burning questions, where will the design originate from and where will it be built.

Much like a fine wine, no submarine program will be delivered before its time, and it appears that the decision timeline on this submarine program is still far to the right, although there could be some movement if the new Taiwanese Parliament finally approves the budget in early 2005. With a final consensus by the Taiwanese on funding and foreign building, then the final design and building location questions can at least begin to be narrowed down in order to move forward with this program.


From the January 2005 Issue

SWEDEN -Viking -Dead or Alive

On 04 December 2004, the Swedish Supreme Commander, Haken Syren issued a directive outlining several drastic cuts for the nation’s navy, including the Viking submarine program, the follow-on to the Visby corvette as well as other smaller projects. Syren’s motivations for the cuts come from his belief that previous long-term developments have “become a burden”.

Fortunately, on 16 December, the Riksdag made its decision in favor of maintaining a four boat Submarine Force as well as continuing to develop new naval technologies, including submarines and surface systems.

Had the Supreme Commander’s proposed cuts been instituted, they would have effectively removed the submarine arm from the Royal Swedish Navy (RSN) as well as removing the ability to maintain an effective shipbuilding industry within the country.

Undersecretary of the Defense Ministry, Jonas Hjelm was quoted as saying, “I don’t dare promise the Swedish Submarine Force another 100 years. But on the whole, the future looks quite bright for the Submarine Forces.” Although the submarine ann looks to avoid the budget axe for the immediate future, the Swedish Armed Forces must still find a way to slash SEK3B (US$433M) per year from its current level of SEK45B (US$5.7B).

Ultimately, it is expected that either the Viking or an alternative submarine program will be needed if Sweden continues to operate a Submarine Force. Sweden has made it clear that it hopes to move forward with the Viking program, although it wishes to have other navies join in making it more affordable. Singapore, which currently operates four used Swedish-built ex-Sjoonnen class submarines, has expressed interest in the Viking as a path to new construction submarines on the condition that the Swedish government will also participate. Should both Sweden and Singapore participate in the Viking project, this would allow for the construction of up to eight boats, four for Sweden and four for Singapore. These numbers would increase the probability that the program would survive in Sweden.

From the February Issue

CHINA-Submarine Force Moving Forward

Reporting from Russia in January 2005 indicates that the first of five Project 636 Kilo class submarines being built by Admiraleiskiye Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg was delivered to the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) in December 2004. The submarine was launched in October 2004 nearly 6 months ahead of schedule.

The original contract for eight Project 636 Kilos worth US$ l .5B was signed in May 2002 and called for all eight submarines to be delivered by 2007. In order to meet this deadline, five hulls were to be built by Admiraleiskiye Verfi, one by Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard and two by Sevmash.

ltar-Tass reported on 20 January 2005 that the two units being built at Sevmash are to be launched in April and May 2005. It is anticipated that sea trials for the two Sevmash boats will occur throughout the summer in Russian waters with the Chinese crews prior to the boats being officially turned over around September 2005. It appears that the final four units by Admiraleiskiye Verfi shipyard will enter the water in 2005 and 2006 and the single unit from Krasnoye Sormovo in late 2005 or early 2006 in order to meet the 2007 delivery dates to the PLAN.

In addition to the Kilo project proceeding ahead of schedule, sources in China have reported that a Type 039G (Song class) submarine that was publicly displayed by the PLAN in late 2004 was indeed equipped with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system.

The PLAN has been atlowing reports to “slip out” regarding their advanced AIP program for the past two years, however, the ad-vanced state of the program has not been confirmed until now. The Chinese AIP system is reportedly comparable to the Stirling AIP engine and would allow the 0390 class to remain submerged for extended periods without the need for surfacing to recharge batteries.

Currently there are six units of the Type 0390 under construction at Wuhan Shipyard, Hubei Province and Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai. It is only logical to assume all six of these units will be equipped with the Chinese AIP system.

From the March 2005 Issue

INDIA -Acquisition of a Submarine Rescue Capability

Sources in India have stated that the Indian Navy {JN) and the United States are close to an agreement that would allow the sale of the two Mystic class DSRVs (Mystic and Avalon) to the JN when they are replaced in 2006 by the new Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System (SRDRS).

Although thirty years old, Mystic and her sister ship (Avalon is currently in a lay-up status) will still be quite capable of performing submarine rescues for years to come for the JN or another navy that decides to purchase the vessels. In addition to India, there are several other countries interested in the two DSRV s, but the Indians remain optimistic that they will be able to conclude negotiations and have a contract signed by the end of 2005 according to the vice-chief of the naval staff, Vice Admiral Yashwant Prasad.

Vice Admiral Prasad stated that the JN has already paid earnest money for the contract that covers modifications for the IN’s German Type 209 SSKs to handle the docking of the DSRVs.

He also stated “The US experts are now evaluating the Russian supplied Foxtrot and Kilo class submarines to point out alterations to be undertaken on them to make them capable of such deep sea rescue by the US Navy.”

The deal for the DSRVs is being worked in concert with the purchase of 10 retrofitted Lockheed Martin P3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). This should only add to the likelihood of the JN being selected as the recipients of the two DSRVs as they were developed, built and now maintained by Lockheed Martin Marine Systems. However, India announced on March 291h that the government had cleared the purchase of 11 Dornier 228 aircraft from Germany for the purpose of maritime surveillance. This develop-ment certainly would appear to affect the P-3 decision but may not in the end affect the DSRV acquisition.

The JN began planning for a DSRV capability in 2001 and requested the assistance of LMS Technologies of India in order to procure new DSRVs. However, with the US procuring new DSRVs in the near tenn, apparently the IN decided to procure the used vessels in order to satisfy the requirement eliminating the need to proceed further with a new hull.

The new SRDRS being developed for the US Navy by OceanWorks International is based on their Remora-1 Remotely Operated Rescue Vehicle (RORY) system currently in use with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). It will be capable ofrescues in up to 2,000 feet of water and will have a capacity of two attendants and sixteen rescued personnel. The SRDRS is designed to be launched from vessels as small as an Auxiliary Fleet Tug (T-A TF) and is to be able to be air-transported to the area of operations and be deployed in less than 72 hours.


On 11 March 2005, the keel was laid at Barrow-in-Furness for the third ASTUTE class submarine, HMS ARTFUL. ARTFUL follows HMS ASTUTE and HMS AMBUSH, both of which are currently being assembled at Barrow.

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