Australia’s botched sub-tender process upsets Sweden – the Diplomat

Asia Defense

A letter explains why Sweden feels snubbed that it was not asked to bid on Canberra’s new submarine fleet.

Yesterday, Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish daily, published a letter from the head of the Swedish Defense Material Administration criticizing recent statements by Australian politicians and decision-makers that Sweden no longer had the technical expertise to build submarines.

The letter, sent earlier this month to the head of the Australian Defense Material Organization (DMO), which manages among other things the procurement of weapons systems for the Australian military, refutes in detail the rationale that has been publicly provided. why Sweden was not invited to bid on Australia’s largest defense procurement program in its history.

In February, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott ridiculed the SAAB Group’s desire to bid on the contract and argued that “the last Australian submarine rolled off the production line around 2001 … the last submarine Swedish rolled off the production line in 1996, so it’s been almost two decades since Sweden built a submarine. He also accused the Australian political opposition of wanting to build a “1960s submarine”.

However, the letter, written by Lena Erixon, director general of the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration, notes that “this is not the case” and points out that Sweden “has maintained a full capacity to design and build submarines both for Sweden and for export over the past 20 years.

The letter goes on to describe some of the main projects in which Stockholm has been involved, including the construction of three Gotland-class submarines – nicknamed “Sweden’s little transporter killer”– four Challenger-class submarines for Singapore, two Södermanland-class submarines for Sweden, and two Archer– Submarine class again for Singapore, between the years 1996 to 2013.

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The Australian government faces severe internal criticism over the way it has handled the submarine replacement program. Among other things, policymakers have repeatedly provided factually inaccurate statements to the public. In the letter, however, Sweden particularly attacks the murky and non-transparent tendering process.

“What is most surprising is the exclusion of Sweden from the assessment process, on the basis of what appears to be inadequate information. At no point did the DMO request a detailed briefing on the scope and complexity of the programs recently undertaken by Saab Kockums. [a Saab subsidiary] and how these were taken from the design phase to construction, ”the letter says.

The SAAB Group, a Swedish aerospace and defense company, also built the Collins class submarines, currently in service with the Australian Navy. According to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Australia’s $ 8.5 billion submarine fleet, consisting of six Collins-class submarines, experienced a succession of problems from the start, including unreliable diesel engines and an inefficient combat system.

However, the letter says that Sweden’s submarine design capabilities now exceed those of SAAB during Project Collins. He also notes that “a new design, based on the Collins, would be the path of lowest cost and least risk, and would build on the good work already done by Australian industry in construction and construction. interview of the Collins ”.

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