Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


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

From the July 2016 Issue

TAIWAN –2018-2040 Naval Plan Announced

In mid-June 2016, the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) announced its new shipbuilding and force modernization plan that will run from 2017 through 2040. The ROCN is projecting a budget of US$14.7B for the 23 year period. The sea service also envisions indigenous development, construction and manufacturing for the majority of the programs.

AMI believes that this shipbuilding and modernization plan must be considered overly aggressive and underfunded when considering the development costs and numbers of hulls being planned. One must also consider the 23 year span in which several elections will be held and several whitepapers will be issued, undoubtedly changing the modernization effort before completion. Technology assistance from abroad will also be needed when considering the ROCN is considering the full development of its own submarine and AEGIS equipped surface combatants.

The programs that fall under the 23 year plan are as follows:

Diesel Electric Submarines: Mentioned in the 2017-2040 shipbuilding and modernization plan, the Kwang Hua 8 submarine program continues to move forward at a slow pace.In October 2014, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that it was reviewing ROCN proposals for a US$4.9B program to build four indigenously designed diesel electric submarines. The MND has also announced that this indigenous program would run in tandem with the continued requests to the US Government for a US solution, which has been in the works since the beginning of the US Bush Administration in 2001 although no progress has been made.

In regards to the indigenous approach, the research and development (R&D) center Ship and Ocean Industries apparently is developing the design and the China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) will be awarded the construction contract. In late August 2015, the MND submitted a US$90M budgetary proposal (probably approved) to continue the design phase. Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) is tasked with the development of the combat system. Other than early development funding through 2015, this program remains unfunded and will be the most costly of all future programs. A funding flow will be required through the late 2040s if the ROCN intends to realize its dream of an indigenous submarine.

The new submarine is estimated to be around 1,500 tons with the first entering service by 2025. Construction would have to begin no later than 2017 or 2018 if the ROCN intends on commissioning the first unit in 2025. This long design and construction period can be expected when considering this will be Taiwan’s first attempt to design and build a submarine. AMI estimates that all four units will not enter service until around 2030. As the initial requirement was for eight units, there may be a second batch after 2030. However, that will depend on the success of building, testing and operating the first four units.

Although the ROCN will utilize all local companies in every phase of the program, there is no doubt that the US submarine builder General Dynamics could be involved in the design and construction phase and systems houses such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will help develop and supply combat systems solutions for the program.


Ula Diesel-Electric Submarine (SSK) Replacement: The RNoN currently operates a six-unit Submarine Force that was commissioned in the early 1990s and has been receiving incremental upgrades since entering service. These upgrades are intended to keep the submarines active until beyond 2020 when a new class of SSK can be procured.

The 2016 whitepaper specifically states that the current six unit Submarine Force will be replaced with a modern four unit force; reducing the subsurface element by two boats.

While no specific design has been selected, the RNoN had considered the Swedish A26, DCNS Scorpene, and TKMS 212/214. In April 2016, the RNoN shortlisted the suppliers to the new front runners for the program, Scorpene and Type 212/214, eliminating the A26 from the competition.

AMI anticipates that a design could be decided upon by the end of 2016 and followed by a Request for Proposals (RfP) in late 2016 or early 2017, resulting in a construction contract by the end of 2017.

It is possible that some of the modules of the new submarines could be built in Norway with final assembly at the foreign partner’s yard.

If the time line mentioned above is adhered to, the first unit for the class could commission as early as 2021, with the fourth and final submarine entering service in 2023. With the desire to reduce the Submarine Force by two, it is likely that the first four Ul as will be removed from service on a one for one ratio, decommissioning the final three when the last new submarine is commissioned.

ASIA –Regional Update

INDIA:Kalvari (Scorpene) (Project 75) Class Submarine: In late May 2016, the Indian Navy (IN) cancelled the deal to procure Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) Black Shark torpedoes from Leonardo-Finmeccanica. The torpedoes were to be deployed in the Kalvari class submarines in addition to India’s ballistic missile submarines.

The sea service has yet to make a decision on a replacement torpedo.


RUSSIA: On 27 May 2016, the Russian Navy (VMFR) announced that the sea service’s 5th and 6thImproved Kilo III (Project 636.3) class submarines, RFS VELIKY NOVGOROD and RFS KOLPINO, would be commissioned by the end of 2016.

UNITED STATES: On 15 June 2016, he USN named its 27th Virginia class nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN), USS ARKANSAS (SSN 800). It will be commissioned in 2024.

GREECE: On 15 June 2016, the Hellenic Navy (HN) formally commissioned its third and fourth Papnikolis (Type 214) class submarines, HS MATROZOS and HS KATSONIS, into the Greek sea service.

From August 2016 Issue

INDIA –Shishumar (Type 209/1500) Class Submarine: On 06 July 2016, AMI received information that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) received a US$38.4M contract from the Indian navy (IN) to integrate the Boeing Harpoon (UGM-84) anti-ship missile (ASM) system into two of the four Shishumar (Type 209/1599) class submarines for the sea service. The work will be done in India at Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) with technical assistance from TKMS’ Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW).

The Harpoon integration work will only be carried on the two MDL-built submarines, SHALKI (S46) and SHANKUL (S47) and will probably be completed by the end of 2017.

The Indian Government submitted a request through US foreign military sales for the addition of UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles (ASMs) for its submarine fleet in 2015. This request was approved by the US State Department for the sale of 22 Harpoon ASMs for US$200M which comprises 12UGM-84L Harpoon Block II encapsulated missiles and 10 UTM-84L Harpoon encapsulated training missiles.

SPAIN –Galerna Class Submarine TRAMONTANA: On 06 July 2016, the Spanish Navy’s Galerna class submarine, SPS TRAMONTANA (S74), completed its two-year service life extension that will extend its life through the mid-2020s.

The 2014 US$58.1M contract with Navantia called for the following work package:

  • Hull maintenance, repair and preservation.
  • Overhaul of main engines, alternators and shafting.
  • Replace main batteries.
  • Software upgrades weapon control system.
  • Software upgrades to surface search radar and ESM sensors.
  • Software updates to sonar suite.

In 2014, the SN made the decision to extend the service life of the second of three 80s-vintage Galerna class submarines due to the S80 (Isaac Perol Class) submarine program’s delay.

The three Galerna class boats are based on the French Agosta 70 design and were commissioned into service in 1983, ’85 and ’86. SPS MISTRAL (S73) completed an 18-month service life extension program in 2013. The MISTRAL’s refit will ensure the vessel will remain operational until the 2022 timeframe and now the TRAMONTANA through around 2025.

CANADA –Victoria Class Submarines Sustainment: In early July 2016, the Government of Canadaawarded Lockheed Martin Canada (LMC) an US$11M contract to provide long term support for the Submarine Fire Control System (SFCS) on all four Victoria class submarines and land based team trainers.

The contract covers all in service and field service support, obsolescence management, and technical investigations as requested by the Canadian Department of Defence (DoD). Under the new contract, LMC will incorporate additional system integrations including modernized layer-based displays support of advanced sonar processing upgrades, remote control and image display of the search and attack periscopes as well as precision electronic navigation and integration of the electronic supports measures (ESM) systems.

RUSSIA –Delta IV Class SSBN BS 64:

On 28 July 2016, AMI received information that the Russian Navy’s (VMFR) Delta IV class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) VLADIMIR (KS 64) will complete its conversion to a deep sea rescue vehicle (DSRV) carrier by the end of 2016.

VLADIMIR will be renamed RFS PODMOSKOVYE (BS 64). The conversion includes inserting a 43 meter (141ft) section from the decommissioned Yankee Stretch auxiliary submarine to replace the missile tube section that was removed during decommissioning. The insertion will bring the PODMOSKOVYE to around 170 meters (557.7ft). The conversion is being done at Severodvinsk (Zvezdochka Shipyard).

From the August 2016 Issue


Naval Update –Four SSBNs Okayed
Successor Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile submarine (SSBN):
On 18July 2016,the United Kingdom’s Parliament (House of Commons) voted overwhelmingly (472 yes, 117 no) to replace the Vanguard class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) force with four new construction submarines of the successor SSBN class. The four replacement hulls will give the United Kingdom a Continuous-At-Sea-Deterrence (CASD) as envisioned under the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR)that was released in November 2015.

On 01 August 2016, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that it was planning to release more than US $1.32B in funding for the SSBN program. The total cost for the Successor is estimated at US$54.1B over a twenty year period, which includes research and development, construction, missiles, operations and through life support from 2016 through 2035. The US$1.32B will fund continued design work, the ordering of long lead time components in addition to securing the supply chain.

Main Gate approval (to start construction) is expected by the end of 2016 with the first hull starting by the end of 2017 in order to replace the first retiring Vanguard class in 2028.

Unlike other procurement programs, the MoD will release funds in stages in an attempt to keep costs under control. Essentially, before each stage begins, the MoD and main contractors (BAE and Rolls Royce) will negotiate and agree on the conditions for performance and delivery prior to the release of funds.

All four of these submarines will be built at BAE System with theentire class in service by 2033. Rolls Royce will provide the engineering system including the nuclear reactors.

Approval for Chinese Submarines, Again

On 01 July 2016, Thailand’s Defense Minister (and Deputy Premier), Prawit Wongsuwan, confirmed (again) that Thailand will purchase three Chinese-built submarines for an estimated US$1B. This follows the Defense Minister’s announcement on 15 July 2015 that the submarine procurement program would be put on hold until a thorough study could be completed.

With the defense ministers approval, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) will use up to US$333M from the 2017 defense budget for the first unit, identified as the Yuan class S26T. The two remaining hulls are expected to be purchased over the next several years and financed over a ten-year period.

The decision to procure a Chinese design came in a June 2015 announcement that a 17-member Submarine Procurement Committee appointed by the RTN voted in favor of the Chinese solution for the sea service’s submarine program. Although the Chinese solution got the most votes (breakdown not released), sources indicate that the remaining votes were split between Germany and South Korea. Sources indicated at the time that the Submarine Procurement Committee decision was based on the best value for the money, which included the three submarines, submarine technology transfer agreements in addition to a training package.

Although no timeline has been given by the Defense Minister for the actual procurement, the 2017 funding of the first unit indicates that negotiations with the Chinese will begin shortly if not already underway. A deal could be struck as early as 2017 with the first unit beginning construction in 2018. Units two and three could follow in 2019 assuming a Chinese-backed financing package is in place.

The export model of the Yuan class, the S26T is diesel electric with a Chinese Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system using a Sterling-cycle engine developed by the Number 717 Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC). The three hulls will more than likely have a complete Chinese combat systems package and very similar to those sold to Pakistan.

Although it seems that the RTN is once again on the cusp of getting new submarines, one must ask as to what will either stall or cancel the procurement before it gets off the ground. The stall scenario has become a very familiar as the RTN continues its quest for submarines, a quest that started in the 1990s. The theme for Thai submarines seems to be, better luck next year. Only time will tell if the scenario plays out once again.


Future SSBN-X (District of Columbia Class) Design Contract by October 2016

In mid-May 2016 and again in July 2016, the United States Navy (USN) announced that the design contract for the sea service’s Ohio Class Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) Replacement Program (ORP Program) (District of Columbia Class) would be in place by the fourth quarter of 2016, more specifically October 2016. In the event of sequestration (in that the FY 2017 defense budget is not approved in time), the USN still expects approval of a design contract.

General Dynamic –Electric Boat (GD-EB) has already been selected as the prime contractor for the program and submitted its bid to the US Naval Sea Systems Command (USNAVSEA) on 20 May 2016. Negotiations are underway in order to get the detailed design phase underway by October.

The ORP is expected to proceed through a Milestone B review in August 2016 in order to begin the engineering, manufacturing and development phase. The first unit will begin construction in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. A work-share agreement for the construction phase of the twelve hulls has already been submitted to the Navy with Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding being the other builder. Both yards are also share construction in the Virginia Class Nuclear Powered Attack Submarines (SSNs) as GD-EB and HII Newport News are the only two submarine builders left in the United States.

The first unit will cost over US$11B with the eleven follow on units at around US $6B although the Navy is attempting to push the price per unit to as low as US$5.5B for the follow on hulls.

For the first hull (USS COLUMBIA) that will begin in FY 2021, US $883M was already committed in FY2015 and US$971M in FY2016. The 30 year shipbuilding budget (FY2017-FY2021) calls for US$773M in FY2017 (plus US$1.091B in R&D), US $787M in FY2018, US$2.7B in FY2019, US$1.3B in FY2020 and US$3.6B in FY2021 when the construction phase begins.

The second unit will begin construction in FY2024 and the third unit in FY2030. The 12thhull is expected to begin in 2035 and commission in 2041*. With the ORP in full swing by 2024, all shipbuilding programs will be under budget stress as the projected Shipbuilding and Conversion (SCN) funding is not expected to support the ORP in addition to all other projected naval shipbuilding programs. With the anticipated blow out in the budget estimates some members of the US Congress are now attempting to shift some of the ORP funding outside of the SCN budget.

Further because of the significant amount of workload GD-EB is faced with, the USN has released its “Submarine Unified Build Strategy” (SUBS) that has HII –Newport News Shipbuilding taking on additional responsibilities with the Virginia class SSNs.

UNITED STATES SOCOM Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) Program Underway

In July 2016, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) signed a contract with Lockheed Martin (LM), in partnership with Submergence Group LLC (SG) to build, integrate, test and deliver up to three dry combat submersibles (DCS).

Under the US$166M contract, LM/SG will build up to three DCS vehicles over the next five years. The new DCS will allow USSOCOM forces to operate at greater depths and travel longer distances than with the previous wetsubmersibles that have been used in the past.

The significance of the drycombat submersible is that, instead of sitting in the open in scuba gear and wet suits, exposed to the ocean, the passengers will be in a dry environment until arriving in the target location. This will allow for more rested and fresh force to conduct operations.

Although no specific design has been released by LM, they have stated that the new DCS will weigh just over 30 tons and will be launched from surface ships. This size is nearly twice as big as the S302 design that has been released by LM. The S302 carries a crew of two pilots and six Special Forces personnel, meaning the new DCS will likely carry up to twelve divers plus the two crew members. They will be sized to be able to be transported by C-5 or C-17 transport aircraft.

They will likely be 11.6 meters (38ft) in length with a depth rating of 100 meters (328ft) and a lock-out depth of 30 meters (98ft). They will have a top speed of 5 knots and a range of up to 70 nautical miles. They will be powered by silver oxide batteries powering one electric motor and four positioning thrusters. They are to be equipped with an inertial navigation system (INS), Doppler velocity log (DVL), underwater telephone (UWT), UHF communications radio, obstacle avoidance sonar, and fathometer.

Construction is anticipated to begin immediately with the first unit entering service in 2019, unit two in 2020, and unit three in 2021.


Jangbogo III Class Submarine (KSS-3): On 17 May 2016, the keel was laid for the Republic of Korea Navy’s (ROKN) first Jangbogo III class submarine JANGBOGO, at Daewoo shipbuilding and Marine Engineering’s (DSME) Okpo Shipyard.

On 16 July 2016, first steel was cut for the second unit of the class at DSME. Unit one will be commissioned in 2020, unit two in 2022 and the remaining seven units through 2029.

Regional Update

As of mid-August 2016, the following are highlights of the Africa Region:

EGYPT S-41 (Type 209) Class Submarine: In early July 2016, the Egyptian Navy’s (EN) first of four Type 209 class submarines, S-41, began initial sea trials in the Baltic Sea. The submarines are being built at Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions (TKIS) HDW Shipyard.

S-41 is expected to be delivered to the EN by early 2017. All four units will be delivered to the sea service by 2020.

Combat, Sensor, and Integration System Developments Rubin Central Design Bureau Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) System: On 29 June 2016, Russia’s Rubin announced that they had developed an AIP unit (named Kristall-27E) for diesel-electric submarines (SSK) in 2015, finally acknowledging what had been speculated about for years.

The Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering is a subsidiary of Russia’s United Ship-Building Corporation and has recently stated in their annual report that they continue to equip SSKs with AIP systems able to burn reformed diesel fuel. This type of AIP system also has electrochemical generators.

Rubin is currently building a special floating facility that is designed to test ship-borne versions of their AIP unit that was developed in 2015 as part of the Russian Navy’s Kalina research program.

Indian Varunastra Heavyweight Torpedo: On 29 June 2016, as part of a test and evaluation launching and handover ceremony, the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) test-fired a Varunastra heavyweight torpedo from an Indian Navy (IN) destroyer.

After the successful demonstration, Defense Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar officially handed over the torpedo to the IN in a befitting ceremony. DRDO has stated that local participation in the program is at 95 percent, in keeping with the desire to build and develop systems indigenously.

The Varunastra is a 533mm (21in) wire-guided, active-passive acoustic homing torpedo built by Bharat Dynamics Ltd that is around 8 meters (26ft) in length and weighs 1500kg (3300lbs), has a top speed of 40 knots using an electric propulsion system and carries a 250kg (550lb) warhead.

Full-rate production is not anticipated to begin with the first order of 73 weapons being produced and delivered in the next three years. Each torpedo is stated to cost around US$1.8M


ITALY: On 16 July 2016, the Italian Navy’s third Todaro (Type 212A) class submarine, ITS PIETRO VENUTI (S528), was delivered to the sea service. It will become operational in 2017.

From the September 2016

UNITED KINGDOM: Trafalgar Class Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine (SSN):

In August 2016, HMS TRENCHANT (S 91) has returned to the fleet following a 24 month revalidation and assisted maintenance period (RAMP) at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard. The maintenance period will now allow the submarine to operate until its scheduled decommissioning in 2019.

The refit cost US $471.3M.
The 24-month overhaul included:

  • HM&E maintenance and repair, and preservations.
  • Installation of new rudder system
  • Inspection of the tail shaft.
  • Overhaul of port and starboard circulating water systems.
  • Upgrade of nuclear steam rising plant (NSRP).
  • Communications and information technology systems upgrades under the Defense Information Infrastructure, Future (DII(F)) project.
  • Received the common combat system (CCS) upgrade.
  • Upgrade of the communication electronic support measures (CESM) equipment under the Eddystone program.
  • Surveyand repair of Type 2076 sonar flank arrays.
  • Galley upgrades.

UNITED STATES –Los Angeles Class Nuclear Powered Attack Submarine (SSN): On 26 August 2016, the USN’s Los Angeles class SSN, USS HOUSTON (SSN 713), was decommissioned at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington State.

The submarine will not be resold on the used ship market as no US nuclear powered vessels are released to other countries.

From the October 2016 Issue


PERU –Angamos (Type 209/1200) Class Submarines: In June and September 2016, AMI received information that Servicios de la Marina (SIMA) Peru signed contracts with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and Elbit Systems to upgrade the Peruvian Navy’s (Marina de Guerra del Perú [MGP]) four Angamos (Type 209/1200) class submarines.

TKMS received a US$44.8M contract on 16 September 2016 and Elbit Systems received a contract (undetermined amount) on 02 June 2016. The entire modernization effort will cost US$312M. The units that will receive the modernization effort include the ANGAMOS (S31), ANTOFAGASTA (S32), PISAGUA (S33) and CHIPANA (S34). All were commissioned between 1980 and 1984.

The two units known as the Islay class, ISLAY S35 and ARICA S36, will not be covered under this contract. The TKMS and Elbit contracts follow the 2015 international tender for the modernization of four of the six Angamos/Islay class submarines. The MGP has been planning this upgrade since early 2013.

In 2013, AMI received information that the four units scheduled to undergo the mid-life modernization effort to extend their service lives approximately 15 years with the following refit activities expected:

  • Repair and preservation of the hull, shafts and propellers.
  • Crew habitability improvements.
  • Replacement of batteries.
  • Overhaul of the four MTU 12V 483 AZ80 GA31L diesel engines, four Siemens alternators and one Sie-mens motor.
  • Upgrade of the SEPA Mk 3 weapon control system.
  • Upgrades or replacement of the sonar, navigation and communication suites (all Atlas Elektronik systems).
  • Replacement of masts and periscopes.
  • Replacement of SST4 torpedoes with the AEG 264 heavyweight torpedoes.
  • Addition of anti-ship missiles, probably the Boeing UGM-84 Sub Harpoon.
  • Replacement of current ESM system with the Elbit Timnex II ESM suite.

TKMS, as prime contractor, will cover technical advice and assistance in separating the hull in two parts, enabling Peru to conduct the modernization or replacement of all the systems listed above. The first submarine will commence by the end of 2016 and will run through 2018. The three follow on units will follow at two year intervals with the entire class being modernized by 2024.

PORTUGAL –Tridente (Type 209PN) Class Submarine: Inmid-September 2016, AMI received information that the Portuguese Navy (PN) would be replacing the batteries in its two Trident (Type 209PN) class submarines, TRIDENT (S 160) and ARPAO (S 161).

The estimated US$11.2M budget for the program was approved in May 2015 with the first payment in 2016 and the remaining in 2018. The deal covers the batteries and associated accessories. The first two Sunlight 324 cell lead acid batteries will probably be installed on the first unit in 2017 and the second in 2019.

TAIWAN –Sea Dragon Class Submarines: On 01 April 2016, AMI received information that the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) was moving ahead with a Life Extension program (LEP) for its two Sea Dragon (Zwaardvis) class submarines. The two submarines have been in service since 1988. It appears that the overhaul will be conducted at China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) with the assistance of a foreign yard.

In mid-March 2016, a contract for the LEP design work was awarded to two European marine engineering companies. Taiwan’s Ship and Ocean Industries Research and Development Center (SOIC) will bethe local subcontractor for this phase which is expected to be completed in 2018. The modification phase will run from 2018 through 2020 and will address obsolescence issues. The work package is expected to include:

  • Hull, mechanical and electrical (H,M&E).
  • Non-propulsion electronic system modifications.
  • Upgrades to the TIMNEX 4CH(V2) electronic sup-port measures (ESM). Several firms are now competing for the estimated US$9M ESM upgrades.
  • Replacement of the Thales Naval Nederland (TNN) SIMBADS-M CMS system and SIASS-Z integrated sonar system with the Lockheed Martin Submarine Integrated Combat Systems (SUBICS).
  • Replacement of the SUT torpedoes with the Raytheon Mk 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedoes (approved by the US Government by the end of 2016, also funded in 2016).
  • Replacement of the UGM-84L Harpoon antiship missiles (ASM) with the Harpoon Block II ASM including integration into the CMS. US$200M deal concluded for 32 UGM-84L Sub-Launched Harpoon Block II ASMS.

UNITED STATES –BAE Systems Mk 45 127mm Naval Guns: In late August 2015, BAE Systems was awarded a contract from the US Navy (USN) worth up to US$130M to overhaul and upgrade the Mk 45 127mm guns on the sea services destroyer force. The initial contract of US$80M is for the upgrade of six guns tothe Mod 4 configuration in 2015 with an option for four additional Mod 4 configurations in 2016.

The option for the four additional guns was exercised on 27 September 2016 at a cost of US$50M (total contract for ten is US$130M). The 10 Mod 4 configured 127mm guns will be installed on Arleigh Burke class destroyers with the first occurring in 2017 and the tenth in 2020.

The fully digital Mod 4 configuration includes upgrades including a 62 caliber barrel, strengthened gun and mount systems, enhanced control systems, a reduced signature and a low maintenance gun shield. Operational and performance improvements are designed to support potential increased ranges for naval surface fire support that will come with future extended range guided munitions.

UNITED STATES –Attack and Guided Missile Submarines: In late May 2016, Aero Vironment announced that the United States Navy (USN) would begin deploying its Blackwing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) aboard the sea service’s nuclear attack submarines and nuclear guided missile submarines providing an advanced reconnaissance system. The guided missile submarines include the four Ohio class SSGNs and the attack submarines of the Virginia, Seawolf and Los Angeles Classes.

The Blackwing UAS is a small, tube launched system that can deploy from under the surface of the sea, on manned submarines and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs). The Blackwing is a low cost system optimized for anti-access and aerial denial (A2/AD). The system employs an advanced, miniature electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) payload, Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SASSM) GPS and secure Digital Datalink (DDL). The Blackwing UAS can be fully integrated into the submarine fleet using existing, standard command and control systems.

In early16 August 2016, the USN successfully demonstrated the use of the Blackwing UAS to link with a swarm of UUVs and communicate with the submarine’s combat control system. The UAS can also provide a relay for command and control (C2) between geographically separated vessels such as unmanned submarines, UUVs and surface ships.


India –Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine (SSN) Lease: On 12 December 2014, Russia’s Trade Minister announced that it was ready to lease an additional used nuclear submarine to the Indian Navy (IN). The statement was believed to have referred to the Akula class, of which one is already under a US$970M ten-year lease to the Indian sea service through 2021. In late March 2015, AMI received information that the Indian Government had made the formal request for a second Akula.

Sources in late-2015 reported that the IN was also considering one of the Yasen (Project 885) class SSNs as an alternative. In September 2016, AMI received information that India would send a delegation to Russia before the end of 2016 in an attempt to attain a lease a Yasen, probably the SEVERODVINSK (K-329), for ten years. The Indian rational is that the Yasen class is much newer than the 1980s/90s vintage Akula class SSNs. The only two units of the Yasen class built to date are the RFS SEVERODVINSK (K-560) and the RFS KAZAN, both commissioned since 2013. The IN began considering the lease of a second unit in early 2013.

In the event that the IN remains with the Akula, it may be either the Akula II hull IRIBIS, which is 60% complete and remains at Russia’s Amur Shipyard or the completed Akula I KASHALOT (K-322).

The procurement of the second SSN has become a much higher priority in recent months as the first Indian-built Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) INS ARIHANT began sea trials in mid-December 2014. Negotiations will probably be completed by 2017 with the lease costing around US$1B over the ten year period.

ITALY –Decommissioning Schedule for Navy, Coast Guard and Finance Vessels:

Prospective Decommissionings: Sauro III Class Submarines: PRIMO LONGOBARDO (S528) in 2018 and GIANFRANCO GAZZANA PRIAROGGIA (S525) in 2019.

FRANCE: Rubis Amethyste Class Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine (SSN): In late September 2016, AMI received information that the French Navy (FN) would decommission its first Rubis Amethyste class nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN), FS RUBIS (S 601), in January 2017. The SSN will be replaced by the first unit of the Suffren (Barracuda) class, SUFFREN, when it commissions in 2017.

The RUBIS will probably be held in reserve prior to being scrapped. The five remaining units for the Rubis Amethyste, SAPHIR (S 602), CASABLANCA (S 603), EMERAUDE (S 604), AMETHYSTE (S 605) and PERLE (S 606), will probably decommission in 2020, 2022, 2025, 2027 and 2029 as the five follow on Suffren class SSNs enter service.

From the November 2016 Issue

ISRAEL More Dolphin Submarines Being Considered

In late October 2016, AMI received information that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Navy (Heil Hayam Ha Yisraeli –HHHY) was interested in the procurement of three additional Dolphin II submarines in order to replace the original three Dolphin I class that were commissioned in 1999 and 2000. Source indicates that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed and the Israeli Government has already entered into negotiations for the three hulls.

The HHHYs three Dolphin I and three Dolphin II (3rd unit to be delivered in 2017) submarines were built at Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) (ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions –TKIS). The majority of the subsystems are also derived in Germany with the Dolphin IIs using an Israeli surface search radar and ESM system. The US Harpoon is also integrated into all six hulls.

The original three Dolphin Is and three Dolphin IIs were heavily discounted as the German Government paid for 33 percent of the total cost of the submarines. Israel will probably also seek to receive a similar discount if and when the additional submarines are procured. Whether Germany will help fund the additional submarines is questionable as federal elections (Federal Parliament –Bundestag) will occur in October 2017. On the positive side, TKIS will need to keep its submarine orders stable in order to maintain its industrial base as the last German Navy Type 212A will be delivered in 2017 followed by the third Israeli Dolphin II in 2018.

Assuming that a deal is concluded, the Israeli Government could move forward with the additional submarines as early as 2018 in order start construction on the first Batch II hull (unit 4) in 2019 and delivery in 2025. The oldest Dolphin I will be 26 years old in 2025. All three units could be in service by 2029.

SPAIN –S-80 Submarine Construction Resumes

On 23 October 2016, AMI received information that Navantia is finally continuing with the fitting out phase of the S-80 class submarine following a lengthening of the hull.

Originally, the lead boat, ISAAC PERAL, was to be delivered by 2011, but budget shortfalls and contention regarding who would supply the combat management system (CMS) created delays, pushing the fist of class to 2015.

The S-80 class diesel electric submarines (SSK) were further delayed for over three years while a redesign of the submarines’ stability and performance problems were corrected. In 2013, Navantia announced that there were serious weight imbalances in the design that would result in delaying ISAAC PERAL until 2017 while a fix was found. General Dynamics Electric Boat deter-mined that the submarine had an overweight problem and the hull was lengthened by 7 meters (23 ft) in order to correct the issue. Additionally, it was found that the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system was under-powered but the addition of the added buoyancy from the lengthened hull would correct the problem.

With the hull and mechanical work now complete, the submarine can now move on to the fitting out of weapon systems and the interior furnishings. With work recommencing, ISAAC PERAL is anticipated to be launched in 2020, and delivered to the Spanish Navy in 2021, a total of 10 years beyond the original schedule.

When complete, the S-80 class SSKs will be 79.05 meters (269.4ft) in length and will displace 2,426 tons submerged. They will be powered by three bio-ethanol diesel engines, one AIP fuel cell and one electric motor for a top speed of 19 knots submerged.

They will be manned by a crew of 32 and armed with six 533 mm torpedo tubes capable of firing the Atlas Elektronik DM2A4 heavyweight torpedoes as well as Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles (ASM).

The remaining three submarines will, barring any additional delays, be delivered by 2026.

ASIA Regional Update

As of mid-November 2016, the following are highlights of the Asia Region:

INDIA Arihant Class Nuclear Powered Technology Demonstrator (SSBNX) (Advanced Technology Vessel –ATV Program): On 18 October 2016, AMI received information that the Indian Navy (IN) commissioned the Arihant class SSBNX ARIHANT in August 2016. The 6,000-ton SSBNX will be the only unit of the class and will be followed by the 8,000-ton Aridhaman class SSBN.


Improved Chang Bogo (Type 209) Class Submarine: On 25 March 2016, the first Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) Improved Chang Bogo (Type 209) class submarine (KRI NAGABANDA) was launched from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering’s (DSME) Okpo yard in South Korea. It will be delivered to the TNI-AL in late 2017.

The second unit was launched on 24 October 2016 from DSME and will be commissioned in 2018. The third unit will be built at Indonesia’s PAL Shipbuilding (with assistance) and will begin construction in 2017 and commission in 2020.


Shipyard and System House Updates

AMI is currently tracking shipyard and system house consolidation, merger, reorganization and joint venture highlights within the defense industry. the following are the highlights for the months of October and November 2016:

ASC to Split into Three Companies: On 11 October 2016, the Australian Government announced that it wants to split Adelaide-based ASC into three separate companies in an effort to streamline ASC’s corporate structure. The three companies have been identified as Shipbuilding, Submarine Maintenance and Support, and Infrastructure.

The Shipbuilding company will be responsible for employing the shipbuilding workforce and completing the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program as well as building the new SEA 1000 submarines.

The Submarine Maintenance and Support Company will employ the submarine sustainment workforce and will sustain the Collins class submarines.

The Infrastructure company will hold and upgrade all ship-building and infrastructure assets used to support future shipbuilding and submarine programs.

ASC currently operates separate submarine and shipbuilding businesses and has five subsidiaries that look after construction of the AWD, Collins class maintenance, employment, asset management, and infrastructure. The split into three companies will allow each to focus on their core function without having an effect on employees’ terms or conditions.

This action will bring to Australia defense giant DCNS and will create Osborne South, the most modern and one of the busiest shipyards in the world when completed in mid-2017.

INTERNATIONAL Naval Ship Design Developments

AMI is currently tracking naval ship design developments. The following are the highlights for the months of October and November 2016:

DCNS SMX 3.0 Submarine: At EURONAVAL 2016 held at Le Bourget, France from 17-21 October 2016, DCNS unveiled its new submarine concept, SMX 3.0, touted as being tailored for Generation Z.

The SMX 3.0 is to have a displacement of 3,000 tons and will be tailored to be a strengthened submarine, specifically designed to offer exceptional crew comfort for the men and women onboard.

Data systems are to be completely interconnected, robust, secure, fast, and upgradeable. The combat and platform operations systems have been designed around more efficient, intuitive and fluid man-machine interfaces (MMI).

Equipped with a vertical launch system capable of launching both drones and missiles, the SMX 3.0 extends the scope of a submarine’s traditional warfare roles. The more hydrodynamic shape and anechoic coating increases the submarine’s acoustic suppression, making it more difficult to be located passively.

The submarine will be equipped with a second-generation air-independent propulsion (AIP) system (AIP FC2G) that is currently being tested at a shore facility. It will be capable of long, underwater patrols without the need to surface or snorkel.

Drass DG85 Midget Submarine: Drass of Italy showcased its latest midget submarine design, the DG85, at EURONAVAL 2016. Based on traditional Italian midget submarines, the new submarine will bring more modern technologies to the market.

The new DG85 is 21.06 meters (69.1ft) in length, had a beam of 3.82 meters (12.5ft), displaces 94 tons, and has a submerged speed of 13.9 knots. It is armed with two 400mm wire-guided torpedoes capable of attacking surface ships in harbors or in littoral waters. Additionally, they can be used to deploy mines, gather intelligence and patrol coastal littoral waters. It is equipped with active and passive sonars, TV periscopes, navigation and platform management systems, and echo sounders.

Its small size and rather inexpensive cost will allow for navies that have a desire for a submarine capability to enter the market for much less than a traditional diesel-electric submarine. Additionally, navies with shallow coastal waters can use their larger submarines for longer-range patrols while using a midget submarine for coastal and harbor patrols.

Another feature of the DG85 is that its bolted together allowing for easier maintenance as well as disassembly for transport over land or for storage in an on-shore hangar when not needed, increasing its life-span.



On 26 October 2016, the Russian Navy (VMFR) announced that the sea service’s 5thand 6thImproved Kilo III (Project 636.3) class submarines, RFS VELIKY NOVGOROD and RFS KOLPINO, would be commissioned by the end of 2016.The RFS VELIKY NOVGOROD was commissioned in early October and the RFS KOLPINO was handed over to the VMFR for commissioning by December.


On 29 October 2016, the USN’s 11th Virginia class nuclear powered attack submarine (SSN), USS ILLINOIS(SSN 786) was commissioned at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.


On 01 October 2016, the Royal Navy (RN) announced it will begin construction on the first Successor Class Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN). Under “Delivery Phase 1”, manufacturing will begin on the structural steel work for the auxiliary machine space. In late October, the RN named the first unit, HMS DREADNOUGHT.

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League