New European Attack Submarine Programs Pushing Limits of Diesel Technology

New diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK) programs for NATO members Italy, Norway and Germany are indicative of the developing trends in the conventional submarine market for stealthier attack boats.

These countries are all developing the Type 212 SSK design for their navies. Italy is using it to enhance its domestic SSK manufacturing capability, while a Norwegian-German program is piloting the first-ever joint SSK construction program through its initial stages.

Italy’s Near Future Submarine (NFS) program begins this month with the construction of its first U212NFS hull and signifies the first step toward the eventual return of Italy to the SSK market.

The export market for SSKs has been dominated by France and Germany, with their shipyards – Naval Group and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) – successively selling their designs overseas. The second tier of suppliers includes South Korea, Sweden and Russia, which have also secured significant contracts.

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri is to deliver four NFS boats to the Italian Navy that are a modification of the existing Type 212 submarine – a TKMS design. Fincantieri had earlier built four U212A SSKs for the Italian Navy in cooperation with TKMS.

But this time Fincantieri will play the role of the prime contractor and the design authority for the U212NFS program, including both the development of the architectures and physical and functional integration of the combat and platform systems and sub-systems.

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