New submarines – status per December 2016

The Norwegian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has worked on the project for future submarines since 2007. The Norwegian Government decided in 2014 to investigate options for new submarines. This process is near its conclusion, and a recommendation is planned to be presented to the Government in 2017.

In the process leading up to where we are now, the MoD has looked at many different options and considered a broad range of solutions. The conclusions after more than eight years of studies and analysis are rock solid. Norway will procure new submarines, and these submarines will be based on an existing design. The importance of submarines is clearly stated in the new Long Term Defence Plan that was approved by the Norwegian Parliament in November 2016, Proposition 151 S (2015 – 2016) Kampkraft og bærekraft - Langtidsplan for forsvarssektoren. Submarines are a vital strategic capability for a maritime nation like Norway.

Norway has an evolutionary approach to new submarines. Procurement will be based on an existing submarine design from an experienced shipyard. The Norwegian requirements are based on what exists on the market in a 2020 perspective. This approach is vital to minimize risk to time, cost and performance, and is necessary to ensure timely delivery of our new submarines.

The French company DCNS and the German company tkMS are the largest manufacturers of submarines in Western Europe. They have extensive experience in building advanced submarines and a large industrial capacity. The Government made a down select from six to two suppliers in April 2016, and the focus is now solely on France and Germany as potential suppliers and strategic partners for our future submarines.

Norway is interested in cooperation both towards a supplier nation as well as towards other potential partners such as the Netherlands and Poland. In our view, it should be possible for several nations to agree on a common set of requirements and harmonize timelines, making it possible to acquire the same type of submarine.

International cooperation is becoming increasingly important to realize complex, high-tech defence capabilities. Based on the needs and requirements of our Armed Forces, Norway should – and increasingly does - cooperate with other nations on capability development and procurement.

NATO and close allies will still be the main partners for such cooperation. This also applies for the submarine project. Cooperation on an identical submarine class can ensure a more robust submarine capability for all partners. The synergies and benefits of cooperation are significant.

The new Norwegian submarines will be procured abroad, either from France or from Germany, but they will have Norwegian technology in some key areas where Norwegian defence companies provide the required solutions. Norwegian industry is world leading in some key technology areas for submarines, and the Norwegian Government will use the submarine procurement to help strengthen their market access. Norwegian companies have a long and impressive track record in areas such as Combat Management Systems (CMS), sonars and underwater sensors for submarines, as well as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). In addition, the Norwegian subsea sector is amongst the world largest due to oil and gas exploration.

The Norwegian MoD is continuously conducting economic, industrial and military assessments related to the procurement of new submarines. The MoD will conduct a thorough evaluation and assessment before presenting a recommendation to the Government in 2017. The Government will then decide which solution is best for Norway.

Thereafter, the Government will present an investment project for new submarines to the Norwegian Parliament. In line with the Long Term Defence Plan, the ambition is to take delivery of four new submarines during the latter half of the 2020s to replace our current Ula-class.