Oslo September 7, 2015 - Norway has had talks with Poland with a view to a possible submarine cooperation. The talks took place during the defense industry exhibition MSPO 2015 in Kielce, Poland
Norway has six submarines of Ula class which today is approximately 25 years old. This is the only submarines of this type in the world, and the supply of spare parts will eventually become very demanding. In order to replace the submarines before they get too old, it has since 2007 been an ongoing planning process in the Ministry of Defence to consider solutions for the continuation of the Norwegian Submarine weapon. The government undertook a concept in 2014 and has decided to consider a purchase of new submarines, rather than conducting a lifetime extension of Ula class. The Ministry of Defence has now come a long way in this report.
In a new acquisition will Norway basing its acquisition of an existing submarine design. It will enable us to avoid an extensive development with the uncertainties and costs incidental. New submarines will be built at a shipyard that has good experience in building conventional submarines. Norwegian companies are world leaders in technology used in submarines. The government will use a procurement of new submarines as an opportunity for Norwegian defense industry.
Ula Class phased out around mid-2020's. To get delivered new subs before this happens, it is decided to sign the contract for the construction of new submarines by 2020. It must be an overlap between the phasing out of Ula-class and the phasing in of new submarines, to retain and carry forward the great submarine expertise we have, and to maintain a minimum of operational submarines. It will take an estimated six to seven years from a contract signed to the first submarine will be delivered.
An acquisition of new submarines will be costly. Norway is working to achieve a comprehensive submarine cooperation with second land for new submarines, for the best possible to reduce costs. The Ministry of Defence has recently had processes up to different nations. To achieve cooperation, several factors must be present. It requires equality in specifications and that the nations are synchronized in time. Countries should additionally also seek common solutions for logistics and life support. Poland has a specification that is quite similar to Norway's, and it is therefore interesting to consider further a possible collaboration on procurement, operation and maintenance. Norway will intensify discussions with Poland in the future.
The project that has explored future submarine capacity, has since 2007 looked at various solutions for submarine force. The government has now decided that the project should go into a definition phase and consider a new acquisition of submarines to replace Ula-class when it goes out of date.
Today's six submarines of Ula-class were phased in from 1989 to 1992. These submarines are designed for a lifetime of 30 years, and will be phased out in the 2020's. Technological development makes Ula-class properties, which are based on a 80's design and contemporary technology, the term will not be sufficient to modern, high-tech threats.
Future submarine capacity has been studied since 2007. The report has been through external quality assurance in two phases, and the government has now taken a decision concept for future submarine capability.
- Submarines are a basic capacity in the military and have great impact on the overall Defence capability. The subs are with combat aircraft and special forces Armed main capacities. Therefore it is important that we have now established that the acquisition of new submarines form the basis for future project work. This decision makes it possible for us to maintain a credible submarine capacity, says Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Today Ula-class submarines will be 35 years old when they are superseded by new submarines. They are originally built for 30 years lifetime, but Ula Class must be in service for another five years in order to maintain a continuous submarine capacity beyond the 2020's. Studies show that it would have been very costly and impractical to extend the life out of this.
- The ability to operate hidden, which is the main pillar for submarine relevance will be significantly better for a new submarine than that achievable with a levetidsforlenget due to lower noise signatures and better hydrodynamic design, said Eriksen Søreide.
A significant project to be done in the future. The project will evaluate a possible cooperation with other countries both in terms of purchase, operation and maintenance. A partnership can contribute to economies of scale and a robust solution throughout the life of the submarines.
It's only taken a position to go into a new project phase, which means that no decisions around investments are made. By the end of 2016, it submitted a recommendation on the future submarine capability. Then a possible investment projects will be presented to Parliament. This will enable the delivery of new submarines from the mid 2020's.
Number of submarines and weapons inventory of these will be dimensioned for costs.
- I emphasize that it is not decided on a final level of ambition or the number of submarines. This is something I will come back with a recommendation on when the project is submitted, said the defense minister.