A Japanese consortium has placed a $35 billion bid to construct submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. While France’s DCNS Group and Germany’s Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) have offered proposals, several analysts believe Japan is the only bidder with submarines large enough to meet Australia’s demands.
Japan has offered to construct a state-of-the-art submarine concept which would be larger than its 4,000-ton Soryu-class submarine using new designs and sustainment centers in Japan as well as Adelaide and Perth. In addition, Japan has offered to train hundreds of Australian engineers in Kobe, its manufacturing hub, as well as Australia.
Australia is seeking a long-range submarine, about 4,000-tonnes, bigger than the 3,300-tonne Collins that it currently deploys. To compete against Japan’s 4,200-tonne Soryu class, TKMS is submitting a 4,000-tonne Type 216, and DCNS is offering a smaller, non-nuclear variant of its 5,300 tonne Barracuda-class submarines.
Japan would transfer 100 percent of the technology involved in building a larger version of Japan’s state-of-the-art 4,000-ton diesel-electric Soryu-class submarine to the Australian submariner community.
Japan’s proposal includes advanced welding technologies, top-secret stealth technology, combat system integration, lithium-ion batteries as the submarine’s main energy source (with the option for air-independent propulsion to be added later an), and an all-weather snorkel system that can operate even during a typhoon
The Soryu-class boats currently in service with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force are outfitted with a Swedish-made air-independent propulsion system. However, the Australian government has expressed its preference for a lithium-ion battery option – one of Japan’s most preciously guarded military technologies.
Long considered the frontrunner, Japan has been losing ground to Germany and its offer of the HDW-class 216 diesel-electric sub designed by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). Unlike their Japanese competitors, the German company has already built over 160 submarines for 20 different international customers.