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

From the January 2008 Issue

SWEDEN – Moving Forward With New Submarine Program

In late December 2007, the Swedish government approved the design phase for a new class of submarines that will replace the current force of Gotland and Vastergotland submarines (five units being reduced to four) for the Royal Swedish Navy (RSN). The new program identifies the future submarine as the A-26 class. This new class will apparently be a new submarine rather than the Viking class that was anticipated throughout the 1990s.

Viking started as a Nordic Program having anticipated participation with Denmark and Norway. However, both countries have since withdrawn from the program, with Denmark departing the submarine business altogether. With Viking now virtually defunct, Sweden decided to pursue its own independent submarine program by early 2007.

Feasibility studies by the RSN began in late 2007 and when completed will be followed by the design stage, both of which will be completed by the end of 2008. A final decision regarding procurement of the A-26 class will be dependent on the outcome of the design phase and funding options.

The government believes that development of a domestic program for the submarine could not only reduce the overall lifecycle cost, but it would prove to be a huge economic and technological boost as opposed to procuring a similar vessel on the international market. Domestic development of the A-26 would ensure Sweden’s naval shipbuilding capability as well as its maintenance capability not only for submarines but for surface ships as well.

It is AMI’s assessment that the A-26 would be comparable in size and capability to the German Type 214 class and will include an air independent propulsion (AIP) system for prolonged under water operations. It will likely be equipped with a SAAB Systems combat management system and be armed with four 533mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes for Bofors Type 62 torpedoes as well as mines.

With the RSN’s two remaining Vastergotland class submarines needing replacement by around 2015, the sea service would need to begin the construction phase no later than 2010. With the design phase being completed by the close of 2008, a construction contract could be in place as early as 2009 provided Sweden will replace its Submarine Force on schedule and that there is a genuine concern in maintaining the nation’s naval shipbuilding capability.

It is also possible that the A-26 could be a candidate for the Singaporean Navy’s (SN) future submarine requirement as well as that of Norway. The Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) has a requirement to replace its six units of its Ula class beginning in 2020 and began concept studies in December 2007 very similar to Sweden. In regards to Singapore, it currently operates four Swedish Sjoormen and two Vastergotland class submarines that will also need to be replaced in the next decade.

A commitment by Singapore, Norway or both would make the A26 program (or a joint program) much more attractive for all three countries as the total hulls could potentially climb to as many as 14, surely improving the economies of scale for all participants.

CHINA – Moving Toward a Carrier Force

In late December 2007, rumors again began circulating that the Peoples Liberation Anny – Navy (PLAN) was planning to develop a three aircraft carrier fleet over the coming decade. Sources in both Hong Kong and Taiwan have echoed rumors lending some credence to the initial report.

For the past two decades, China has been continually gathering information as well as scrap carriers from around the world in an effort to increase their knowledge of at-sea fixed-wing flight operations and carrier ship designs. The latest example of this has been the on-going work over the past three years, refurbishing the ex-Russian carrier VARY AG. Originally, VARY AG was purchased under the guise of making it a floating casino on the island of Macao.

Images of VARY AG over the past year have shown considerable refurbishment work being conducted as well as it receiving a fresh coat of paint in PLAN grey. In early January 2008, a posting on a Chinese website stated that the VARYAG was renamed the SHI LANG, after the Chinese General who took possession of Taiwan in 1681.

It has been AMI’s assessment since early 2000 that the carrier would eventually be refurbished as a training platform in preparation for an indigenously designed carrier program. In addition to refurbishing the SHI LANG, the PLAN and PLA – Air Force (PLAAF) has been conducting simulated Short Take-Off but Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) operations on a simulated flight deck. The PLAAir Force has also ordered 100 Su-27 (Flanker) fighters from Russia and has a local license agreement to produce at least 200 additional aircraft (Su-27SK) at the Shenyang Aircraft Factory. Russia has operated the naval variant of the Flanker(the Su-33) from its STOBAR carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov for over ten years.

AMI projects that the SHI LANG will be the PLAN’s training carrier while a program to build a class of three operational units begins. The new carrier could begin with a construction contract as early as 2010, with construction beginning immediately there after if the PLAN intends to move forward with a modem carrier force. The first unit will likely commission around 2018 with the remaining units commissioning in two-year increments.

AMI looks for increased discussion of carrier design and engineering issues in Chinese naval circles as an indicator that the PLAN is moving towards lay-down and construction of an indigenous aircraft carrier.



On 05 December 2007, the first Soryu class (Improved Oyashio class – AIP capable) submarine for the Japanese Navy was launched at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe Yard.


On 13 December 2007, the keel of the first S 80 class submarine (S 81) was laid at Navantia’s Cartegena yard. On the same date, first steel was cut for the Spanish Navy’s second unit of the class, S 82.


On 26 December 2007, the first Type 214 class submarine, SON WON II, was commissioned into the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN).


On 15 January 2008, the Le Redoutable class Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) L’fNFLEXIBLE was decommissioned from the French Navy.

From the February 2008 Issue

VENEZUELA-Submarine Deal on the Brink

On 05 February 2008, AMI received information that the Venezuelan Navy (Bolivarian Armada de Venezuela – ADV) was planning to sign a construction contract for three Kilo class submarines in April 2008. The signing will take place when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visits Russia. Originally, Venezuela had planned to buy the state-of-the-art Amur class submarine (built to supersede the Kilo), but was persuaded by Russia to buy the older Kilo design, as the Amur class has yet to be fully tested or exported.

Two of the submarines will be built at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg and the third in a shipyard in the Russian Far East (probably Komsomolsk-na-Amur). Komsomolsk built Kilo class submarines for export to China until production was shifted to Northern and Western Russian yards earlier this decade (2002). Venezuela reportedly had options to buy the French/Spanish Scorpene and the German Type 212 or 214 but has apparently opted for the Russian Kilos. The decision to purchase the Russian Kilo class is probably politically rather than economically motivated.

The acquisition of the Russian submarines comes after Venezuela recently began to explore its options on expanding the country’s Submarine Force. The two Sabalo (German Type 209) class submarines in Venezuela’s inventory are undergoing modernization efforts in Porto Cabello, extending the operational life of the 30-year old submarines.

The upcoming submarine sale from Russia is possibly a political maneuver by President Hugo Chavez in the hopes of upsetting the United States. The ADV would use the submarines to protect its interests in its exclusive economic zones (EEZ}, of which Venezuela views a large portion of the Caribbean Sea as falling under its purview. Moreover, Venezuelan officials are stating that military capabilities are expanding in order to fight an asymmetrical conflict with the U.S.; claiming that all systems purchased would be for the defense of Venezuela against a U.S. invasion.

The Project 636 submarines are designed for anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, as well as, reconnaissance and patrol missions. They are often called The Black Hole because of their uncanny ability to disappear. The boats are able to launch torpedoes and mines as well as Klub anti-ship missiles (ASMs).

BRAZIL – Modernization of the Submarine Force

As of February 2008, AMI continues to receive information concerning upgrades to the Brazilian Submarine Force. Brazil is currently planning for three phases in the modernization of the force including the development of a nuclear-powered submarine, a follow-on to the Tikuna class diesel submarine and the modernization of its five Tupi/Tikuna class submarines. The programs are as follows:

A. Nuclear-Submarine (SNAC-2) Program: As mentioned in AMI’s Hot News in November 2007, the Brazilian Navy (BN) continues to struggle with its SNAC-2 nuclear submarine program. Development of an operational submarine nuclear reactor apparently continues to elude the sea service. Under development since 1979, the BN now estimates that a reactor will not be available until at least 2015. The reactor development in conjunction with Brazil’s extremely low budgets and historically long building times at its naval shipyards have pushed an in service date for the first nuclear submarine well past 2020.

These delays have prompted Brazil to seek foreign assistance for the nation’s civil and military nuclear programs. Reports continue to surface that Brazil is interested in possibly Indian, French or Argentine assistance for the enrichment of uranium. Any type of assistance would require a major policy shift by either India or France. AMI believes that Brazil will have to continue going it alone in its development of the reactor although it could possibly receive design assistance for the submarine hull once an on-line reactor is available.

B. Diesel Attack Submarine (SMB-10) Program: Information received in January and February 2008 indicates that the BN is interested in the DCNS Scorpene design for its SMB-10 program. The SMB-10 program is the follow-on to the single Tikuna class submarine that was delivered to the BN in 2006.

AMI sources indicate that the BN would like to build the Scorpene design in Brazil in order to further develop its indigenous capabilities. Apparently, the deal includes the construction of a single Scorpene submarine in Brazil with DCNS assistance for around US$600M. Included in the deal would be technology transfer agreements so Brazil could continue the submarine line with additional units if necessary.

The offer of the Scorpene may be the most realistic option available for Brazil if it intends on building a submarine locally. The only other plausible modem export design is the ThyseenKrupp Marine (HOW) Type 214, of which AMI sources have indicated that the design was not offered to Brazil. The biggest issue in a Scorpene purchase is funding, although sources indicate that Brazil may be able to fund the US$600M though a 20-year loan with an interest rate of 2.4%.

C. Tupi/Tikuna Attack Submarine Modernization Program: In January 2008, Lockheed Martin was awarded a US$35M contract to deliver an advanced open architecture combat system for the five active units of the Brazilian Submarine Force; four Tupi class and one Tikuna class as well as one shore-based trainer.

Administered by the US Navy under a Foreign military Sales (FMS) agreement, Lockheed Martin will provide systems engineering, sensors, software and electronics for the modernization of the submarine’s combat management, sonar, fire control and weapon launch systems. This combat systems upgrade follows the recent decision by the BN to replace its submarine torpedo inventory with the Raytheon Mk 48 Mod 6A T torpedo under a US$60M agreement in 2006.

The Brazilian Navy’s total budget for 2008 will be around US$1.2B. Of the allocated US1.2B for the Navy, approximately US$560M is currently slated for nuclear submarine developments and US$95M for the submarine modernization programs. The remaining budget will be undoubtedly be utilized for operations, maintenance and personnel issues.

Assuming that the 2008 defense budget remains a baseline for annual defense budgets through the next decade, it will still take a significant infusion of additional funding at the Defense Ministry level as well as creative financing efforts for the Brazilian Navy to continue moving forward with its SNAC-2 nuclear submarine program and
the SMB-10 diesel submarine program. This does not even take into account any modernization efforts in Brazil’s surface force or naval aviation requirements.

ECUADOR-DCNS/ASMAR to Upgrade Ecuadorian Submarines

In late February 2008, AMI received information that DCNS of France and Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada (ASMAR) of Chile were awarded contracts to upgrade the two Ecuadorian Navy (Armada de Guerra -ADG) Shyri (Type 209/ 1300) class submarines. DCNS’s share of the contract is worth €10M (US$14.8M) and includes the modernization of the combat system and assistance to ASMAR with hull cutting to expedite the associated refits.

The Ecuadorian submarines will receive hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) maintenance as well as the overhaul of the combat system. New systems will include the UDS International SUBTICS combat management system (CMS), a Thales sonar suite and the new generation Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) WASS torpedo decoy system. Integration will be accomplished by DCNS and Chile’s SISDEF. The first unit will probably enter ASMAR by the close of 2008 with the second unit beginning in 2010.

INDONESIA-Country Highlight

The Indonesian Navy (IN), traditionally the least important of the country’s military services, is currently hard pressed to effectively patrol the vast Indonesian archipelago of over 13,000 islands with its current aging fleet. A rise in piracy and a series of maritime disasters since the late 1990s (including the Tsunami of2004) has highlighted the Navy’s deficiencies. Navy short-comings as well as those in the other services lead to the release of a Ministry of Defense whitepaper in 2003 that fonnulated a new national strategy through 2024. In order to meet this new strategy, the Ministry called for major increases in defense expenditures, more creative ways to procure new equipment, as well as increased investment in indigenous shipbuilding capabilities. More importantly, the new white-paper also identified the sea service as being a major player in the defense of Indonesia and its territorial waters, effectively raising its status.

With its new found status, the IN, following over twenty years of neglect (with the exception of one new landing platform, dock – LPD), hit the center stage in 2003 when it began announcing plans for a modern fleet of new surface combatants, submarines, patrol vessels and amphibious ships. According to Indonesian sources, the sea service will build at least 24 new vessels through 2013 from an approved procurement budget of US$1.95B and through various counter-trade deals. These 24 new vessels probably include two Kilo submarines (with options for more), four Sigma corvettes, nine patrol vessels (one delivered), five amphibious vessels (LPDs) and four auxiliary vessels delivered through 2005. Additional Kilo submarines, national corvettes (Nasional Korvet), mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs), amphibious vessels and auxiliaries will also be procured from 2014 through 2024 as the second phase in the modernization effort. It will take a sustained effort over the next two decades in order to replace the bulk of the IN’s current operational force.

Long-range plans by the IN through the next two decades include a combination of modernization programs for existing units as well as the construction of new units. If new units are not funded as expected, the sea services may also utilize the used international market to achieve its goals. The IN currently has plans to modernize the following classes of ships until suitable replacements can be procured:

  • Two Cakra (Type 209/ 1300) class submarines. Modernization of the first unit was contracted for in March 2004 with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea and completed by the close of 2006. The second unit could be funded and begin construction in 2008.
  • Six Ahmad Yani class frigates.
  • Three Fatahillah class corvettes.
  • Two Samdaikun (Claud Jones) class corvettes
  • Sixteen Kapitan Patimura (Parchim) class corvettes.
  • Twelve Frosch 1 class LSMs. The first three units were reengined by DSME in South Korea through 2007.

The IN currently has plans to procure the following vessels from 2004 through 2013 under the ten-year modernization plan:

  • Two Kilo class submarines, which will probably be under contract in 2008
  • Four Sigma class corvettes from the Netherlands, of which the first two were commissioned by 2007.
  • Five Tanjung Dalpele Class dock landing platforms (LPDs) of which the first unit was commissioned in 2003.
  • Eight 60-Meter class patrol boats that will probably begin in 2009 plus the last unit of 12 PB 57 class patrol boats commissioned in 2004.
  • Twenty PC-36 class patrol craft in addition to those commissioned in 2003 (not counted in the 24 vessels).
  • Four auxiliary vessels delivered through 2005.

Long-range requirements (projections) indicate that the IN may attempt to procure the following types of vessels from 2014 through 2024:

  • Six additional Kilo class submarines plus two units of the Amur class. AMI believes that the IN will procure only the Kilo class.
  • Ten National Corvettes (Nasional Korvet), which will probably begin in 2016.
  • Up to four additional 60-Meter class patrol boats.
  • Twelve medium landing ships (LSMs), which will probably begin in 2018
  • Two Underway replenishment ships (AORs), which will probably begin in 2024.



– On 06 January 2008, the Portuguese Navy named its two ThyssenKrupp Marine Type 209 PN submarines TRIDENT and ARPAO. The new submarines will be delivered in 2009 and 2010.


-On 30 January 2008, the South African Navy took command of the third and final Type 209/1 400 class submarine, SAS QUEEN MODJADJI, from Germany. The submarine was handed over from ThyssenKrupp’s HDW following successful completion of sea-trials. The submarine will arrive in South Africa on 22 May and commissioned at a later date.


-On 18 February 2008, the second Italian Navy Type 212A class submarine, SCIRE, was commissioned at Livomo, Italy.


-On 22 February 2008, the fourth Virginia nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), USS NORTH CAROLINE (SSN-777) was delivered to the US Navy.

From the March 2008 Issue

MALA YSIA-Timeline for Future Procurements

In March 2008, AMI received infonnation regarding the Royal
Malaysian Navy’s (RMN) most current modernization plan. Sources
indicate that the most pressing procurement is the acquisition of the
Batch II Lekiu class frigates from BAE Systems. With a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) already in place, a construction
contract could occur at any time. The RMN desires to have a third
batch of two additional units under contract by 2011, although
sources indicate that this may not be achievable due to funding
issues. The Batch II frigates will be delivered to the RMN four years
after construction contract signing.

Additional programs that arc underway or planned included:

  • Scorpene Class Submarine: The first two units of the class are currently under construction and will be commissioned into the RMN in 2009. The RMN has also revealed plans for the acquisition of two or three additional units with funding being secured around 2016 (2016-2020 five-year plan)

RUSSIA-Defense Budget Increase in 2008

In late February 2008, it was announced that Russia’s Defense Ministry would increase defense spending to around RUB 1 trillion (US$40B), 20% more than what was reportedly spent in 2007.

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Lyubov Kudelina stated “The Defense Ministry will spend a little less than one trillion Rubles in 2008, which is about 20 percent more than last year.”

She also stated that between 2008 and 2010, defense spending would account for nearly 16% of the total federal budget expenditure, adding that most of the funds would be spent on procurement and repair of military hardware, research and development and construction programs.

Although the amount to be spent on procurement was not specifically stated, in 2007 over RU83008 (US$12B), was spent on procurement, which represented a 20% increase from 2006 figures. It may stand to reason that the 2008 increase will follow suit, accounting for about RUB3608 (US$14.48).

Although the manpower requirements of the Russian military has been reduced to about 1.1 million, defense spending had continued to increase under President Putin, and will likely reach about RUB1.2T (US$45B) by 2010. It is unlikely that President elect Dimitry Medvedev will propose any drastic changes in defense spending.

What these increases mean for the Russian Navy (RVF) is uncertain at this time. However, the sea service could surely use an infusion of procurement funding in order to move forward with its Borey class SSBNs, Saint Petersburg class diesel submarines and Steregushchiy class frigates. The fact remains that the RVF has only commissioned six new construction submarines and surface combatants over the past fifteen years.



-On 21 March 2008, the fourth and final Le Triomphant class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) LE TERRIBLE, was launched at DCNS in France.


-On 23 March 2008, the third Yuan class diesel submarine (SS) was launched from Wuhan Shipyard in China.

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