SOURCE: Anand SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
In Shadow of Scorpene submarine data leak, Australia and France signed an agreement to build the world’s largest diesel-electric submarines in the Australian industrial town of Adelaide. 56 billion Australian dollars ($41 billion) contract to build 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A based on French Barracuda nuclear attack class submarine have raised few eyebrows among many Defence Analyst.
At first, Austalia is going to build Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A submarine which is still a concept and its design still on paper and is nearly twice the price has compared to nearest rival offer made by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems for its HDW Class 216 Submarine.
While experts argue that French offer of incorporating pump jet propulsion presently used on Nuclear variant into conventional variant might have sealed the deal. pump jet propulsion is next generation propulsion technology which will allow Shortfin Barracuda to move much more quietly than conventional submarines using older propulsion technology.
While many want to make believe that sales pitch of pump jet propulsion sealed the deal but they are others who are not so convinced since France has been using pump jet propulsion even in older Triomphant class ballistic missile submarines of the French Navy and was also offered to be incorporated into older Scorpene class conventional submarines in past to prospective buyers, so technology is not new nor game changer .
Pump jet propulsion have advantages in speed and manoeuvrability but when used at lower speeds it has severe disadvantage when compared to older propulsion technology due to higher fuel consumption which is not ideal for a submarine which uses Diesel for propulsion and also pumps jet propulsion is also known to be much heavier than conventional propulsion adding unnecessary weight .
Many have also questioned if Stealth capabilities were critical criteria then Japan’s offer to built Soryu-class diesel-powered submarines which are known for its advanced stealth capabilities was rejected? Many Analyst believe that Australia and France have struck a deal to develop nuclear-powered submarines in long run based on Shortfin Barracuda designs while incorporating pumps jet propulsion and some of the Australian submarine technology.
India which plans to develop its own Attack submarines and also built 6 more conventional next generation diesel submarines under its Project-75I should take a cue from the French-Australian deal for Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A. Scorpene data leak will help Indian government to corner French government to aid India’s Attack submarine program in terms of direct corporation or in technical know how or with a deal for Project-75I allowing them direct assistance in India’s SSN Program, which will not only fasten up Nuclear submarine program but also can be developed relatively in shorter time frame .