Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR_Nov2012 Contents 22 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter NOVEMBER 2012
we wish to incorporate that technology
into the design, as well as how quickly
we can do that during the course of the
program and adapt the build yard to the
new or slightly evolved design. In fact, that
is pretty much describing the Japanese
model. They have been continuously
building submarines since the 1960s and
they gradually evolve each design. They
evolve it perhaps in some significant ways,
but relatively few numbers of evolution.
Between what they have today and what
they had previously, there are really only
four key things - some of which are quite
major - which have been changed in the
design. The next evolution of the design,
as we understand it, will be to incorporate
lithium batteries. That is the sort of thing
we are talking about ...”
Unfortunately caution is required
in replicating the Japanese model.
Without significant increases in Defence
expenditure, it is simply unaffordable. The
Japanese nominal GDP is just shy of four
times that of Australia’s and its submarine program
was established during its economic heyday.
Making a decision to design one’s own submarine
takes something more that a decision to build to the
design of a third party in-country. A submarine design
decision requires an industry wide investment.
Germany, by way of example, has an
submarine industry consisting of Atlas
Elektronik for the combat system and
torpedoes, Diehl BGT Defence for
subsurface to air missiles, Carl Zeiss for
the periscopes, Aeromaritime Systembau
or Rohde & Schwarz for above water
communications, L-3 Communications Elac Nautik
for underwater communications Raytheon Anschutz
for the navigation systems, Gabler for the mast
hoists, EADS Astrium for submarine rapid surfacing
equipment, Ballonfabrik See & Luftausrustung for
submarine escape systems, Draeger for submarine air
quality control, MTU for diesel engines, Piller Power
Systems for generator control systems, Hawker or
GAIA or Exide Technologies for submarine batteries,
L-3 Communications AUROATLAS for static power
supplies, Siemens for the permanent main motors
and Fuel Cell system, Renik for submarine shaft
equipment and HDW, with a in-house team of about
600 engineers, building the platforms and integrating
the other suppliers’ sub-systems.
France has similar depth in its industrial base, while
Spain combines its significant in-country industrial
capability with the US and UK partners.
Designing and building submarines is an expensive
game. Countries with smaller GDPs than Japan that
do have a submarine design capability sustain it
through the export of submarines to other customers.
It does not appear as though Australia is seeking to
do this – though it was one of the many thoughts
behind building Collins here, rather than in a European
There is real danger that we might start down that
path, without a sustainable Government commitment
for the required money necessary to do the job
properly and see it through to completion.
Despite it being a possibility, it makes little sense to
select a Japanese drive train to insert into an option
three or four Australian submarine and claim that
it reduces the risk significantly. A “technologically
refreshed” Collins class submarines, as option
three was referred to by RADM Moffitt in last
month’s Estimates, is essentially a new design
of submarine. Once a permanent magnet motor,
new diesels, lithium ion batteries, AIP, bridge
type hoistable masts, special forces facilities,
AUV cradles or locks, new weapon discharge
technologies, Multiple All Up Round Canisters,
flexible payload technologies and the like are
included, the only resemblance our future
submarine would have to Collins would be only the
steel hull. Even then, there has been commentary
suggesting that we should change the shape and
pressure hull diameter. In effect, an evolved Collins
would be a new design of submarine.
A submarine is not a collection of proprietary
items or systems, rather a carefully integrated design
that accommodates weight, space, signature and
performance contributions of every component part.
Integration is absolute and central to a submarine’s
operational capability, sustainability and reliability.
ASC, or even “Team Australia”, doesn’t have the
requisite design experience to do it. RAND and
RADM Rowan Moffitt both know this.
Perhaps the visits to Japan are being conducted
to ensure that an option three or four alternative to
Kockums is seen to exist?
A submarine is not a collection of proprietary items or systems,
rather a carefully integrated design that accommodates weight,
space, signature and performance contributions of every
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) submarine JS Mochishio (SS 600). Credit: USN / Jon Dasbach
25/10/12 12:00 PM
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