Three European companies have entered tenders
to Poland's Ministry of Defense to supply three new submarines to replace the Polish Navy's ageing Kobben-class subs. The contract is believed to be worth approximately $2.9 billion. Joining the fray are France's Naval Group with its Scorpene-class
subs armed with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles
; Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is bidding with its Type 212CD-class
subs; while Sweden's Saab-owned company Kockum is offering its A26-class
subs. Naval Group's entry is the only tender to include cruise missiles as part of its deal, which some local observers say may give them the edge, while the German Type 212 has already been selected by Norway
to replace its own ageing submarines
—so if Warsaw was to join the procurement, it may drive down costs. According to the ministry, the new vessels will "constitute the essential combat and flagship element of the Polish Navy, and, at the same time, as they will be fitted with cruise missiles, they will be a key element of the state’s and alliance’s military deterrence.” Deliveries of the selected sub will take place between 2024 and 2026.
Norway’s 6 Ula Class/ U210 diesel-electric submarines were commissioned from 1989-1992, and play an important role in their overall fleet. The 1,150t design combined German design, sonar, and torpedoes with a French Thomson-CSF (now Thales) Sintra flank array sonar. Integration happens through a Norwegian Kongsberg combat system, which has become a mainstay for German submarine types. The U210s are a bit on the small side compared to more modern diesel-electric boats, but they remain well suited to Norway’s long coasts and narrow fjords.
The Ula Class has received a number of upgrades since 2006. A new combat system, added cooling for warm water operations, upgraded periscopes, sonar improvements, TADIL-A/Link 11 communications, etc. Even so, the continuous cycle of compression and release inherent in submarine operations will make operations past 2020 a risky proposition. Norway wants to keep a submarine fleet, and by the end of 2014 decided it would need new boats to do so.