France Submarine Import and Export Behavior


Construction of Agosta Submarines in Pakistan, Pakistani Navy, www.paknavy.gov.pk

Imports

France is an exporter of submarines and does not import them.

Exports

Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN)

The French company DCNS (formerly DCN), is the primary naval shipyard for the French Navy, supplying the entire range of conventional and nuclear-propelled submarines and surface vessels, as well as maintenance and integrated logistical support. In addition, the company offers integrated command and control and combat systems for its vessels in cooperation with Thales Naval France. [1] However, France does not currently allow the sale of nuclear-propelled submarines. [2]

Submarine Tables for France

DCNS currently offers three submarines for export:

  • The Agosta 90B-class diesel-electric submarine with an option to include an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system;
  • The Scorpène-class diesel-electric submarine, also with optional AIP, jointly developed with Spain's Navantia (formerly Izar); and
  • The Andrasta-class diesel-electric submarine, a shortened version of the Scorpène meant to provide a lower-cost submarine suitable for use in shallow littoral waters. [3]

The company's AIP system, MESMA (Module d'Energie Sous-Marin Autonome), is based on a closed-cycle steam turbine. This power plant can also be retrofitted via a plug-in extension during a major overhaul, providing a significant qualitative upgrade to the boat. [4] The first vessel equipped with MESMA was the Pakistani Navy's Hamza, an Agosta 90B-class boat, license-built in Karachi, Pakistan. [5]

In 2002, DCNS and Thales started cooperating on the export of their products via the joint enterprise Armaris. Aside from exports, Armaris is also intended to facilitate participation in international procurement programs. [6] Initially, DCNS was marketing its vessels through Sofrantem, which DCNS created in 1970; since 1991, marketing has been done by DCN International (DCNI). As the former state-owned enterprise was unable to work abroad directly, it established subsidiaries to operate on its behalf. DCNI in turn established DCN Log to provide maintenance and integrated logistical support. [7]

While Sofrantem's main responsibility was related to the financing of DCNS's international sales, the establishment of DCNI represented an increased commitment to exports, reflecting the shipyard's need to sustain its capabilities despite decreasing orders from the French Navy. [8] The French Navy continues to be DCNS's main focus; the navy, in turn, actively promotes the company during visits to foreign states and through cooperation with NAVFCO (Société Navale de Formation et de Conseil), a private company that provides tactical and basic on-shore and on-board training to future crews of foreign navies. [9]

Given the decrease in French Navy orders, fierce international competition for naval contracts, and limited success with civilian orders, DCNS has become increasingly interested in pursuing alliances both in France and in Europe more broadly. An attempted acquisition of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), its main European competitor in the submarine sector, failed in 2003, as HDW's owner regarded DCNS's offer as insufficient. [10] However, as a result of the partial privatization of DCNS (approved by the French Parliament in December 2004), some of the obstacles to mergers and international cooperation have now been removed. [11] The privatization enabled Thales to become a 25% industry partner in the company, with the French Government retaining the majority share. [12] This 25% privatization was part of a deal that also included a merger between DCN and Thales Naval France, a move that further consolidated European naval yards. [13] DCNS and Thales have also cooperated with the Spanish company Navantia in submarine construction.

While DCNS's new status may facilitate international cooperation and acquisitions, French government subsidies could become increasingly difficult to administer. For example, a French Court of Auditors detailed in its reports how DCNS was able to sell submarines to Pakistan below cost, recouping its losses by overcharging the French Navy for its domestic orders. [14] DCNS's actions were likely to have been an attempt at jumpstarting its export business; without its sales to Pakistan there may have been questions over the shipyard's future viability.

Main Export Contracts

In the past two decades, DCNS has had considerable success in both reviving old markets and opening new ones. In 1994, DCNS won contracts to sell three Agosta 90B diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) to Pakistan. The third ship, commissioned in 2008, came with the MESMA AIP system, and Pakistan has signed contracts with DCNS to retrofit the first two submarines for AIP systems as well, the first of which was delivered in 2011. [15] The first vessel was constructed at the Cherbourg shipyard in France, but DCNS agreed to a technology transfer for the latter two Agosta 90B submarines to be produced in Karachi. [16] In 1997, DCNS contracted to sell two vessels of its new Scorpène-class to Chile, the second of which was delivered in 2007. [17] Not only was DCNS able to break into HDW's market (Chile had been employing German Type 209 boats), but more importantly, the French company was able to sell a new submarine design, even though the Chilean Navy had initially issued the tender for a proven submarine class. [18] In 2002, Malaysia ordered two Scorpène units as well, along with an ex-French Navy Agosta boat for training purposes. [19] The second submarine entered service with the Royal Malaysian Navy in 2010. [20]

DCNS has also received orders for several Scorpène-class vessels from both India and Brazil, with substantial technology transfer provisions. A 2005 agreement between the Indian Navy and Armaris comprised six Scorpènes that will be constructed by Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. MDL completed construction of the hulls for the first two Scorpènes in late 2010. Although initially planned for 2012, the delivery of the first vessel has been delayed by complex procurement procedures and the expiration of technical assistance contracts. It is now expected to take place in late-2016. [21] In 2008, DCNS also won a bid to supply four diesel-electric Scorpène-class boats to Brazil. [22] Construction of the vessels began in July 2011 at Sepetiba Bay, close to Rio de Janeiro, with the first submarine slated to be commissioned into the Navy around 2017. [23] DCNS will also provide the hull for Brazil's first nuclear-powered submarine, although France will not provide any of the nuclear components. [24]

Some allege that the modular construction of the Scorpène would allow for the installation of a nuclear propulsion system. [25] It is unclear to what extent DCNS might be involved in such an adaptation as France has never exported nuclear propulsion systems. Even in the case of Brazil, where DCNS will provide the hull for a vessel that the Brazilians intend to develop into a nuclear-powered submarine, France is not transferring any of the components that can be used in the propulsion mechanism itself. [26] However, the French Navy does operate the world's smallest nuclear submarine class, Le Rubis. With a submerged displacement of 2,680 tons, it is not significantly larger than a Scorpène-class boat of up to 2,000 tons. [27] The latter with its modular design could potentially incorporate a small reactor with a design similar to the one used in Le Rubis.

Sources:
[1] "Product portfolio," DCN Website, www.dcn.fr; "Through-life support, submarines," Service Portfolio, DCN Website, www.dcn.fr.
[2] Jacques Isnard, "A French submarine is heading to Asia for six months on an export mission - the odyssey of La Praya in Southeast Asia," Le Monde, 21 October 1997; in "Submarine heading to Asia to promote French technology," FBIS Document FTS19971021000889.
[3] "Products: Andrasta," DCNS, https://en.dcnsgroup.com; "Antrasta{RT} (SMX-21, SMX-22, SMX-23) (France), Submarines – Submarine and Submersible Designs," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 5 July 2011, https://articles.janes.com.
[4] "Attack submarines," DCN Website, https://www.dcn.fr.
[5] "First Mesma AIP passes acceptance tests," Media Press Releases, DCN, www.dcn.fr.
[6] "Armaris," Thales Group, www.thales-naval.com.
[7] "History," DCN, www.dcn.fr; "DCN Log," Naval Forces, 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.78; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, https://proquest.umi.com.
[8] "The Naval Shipbuilding Directorate (DCN)," Military Technology, August 1998, Vol. 22, No. 8, pp. S26-28; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, https://proquest.umi.com.
[9] Jaques Isnard, "France arms against 'proliferating' regional powers," Le Monde online edition, 8 November 2003, www.lemonde.fr; in "France updating nuclear deterrent to face 'proliferating' states," FBIS Document EUP20031110000225; Joris Janssen Lok, "French submarine export efforts are gathering speed," International Defense Review, 1 April 2002, https://idr.janes.com; Jean-Loup Picard, "The French naval armaments industry," Naval Forces, 2002, Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 38-46; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, https://proquest.umi.com; Alain Vignat, "Training of foreign naval military engineers: a strategic stake," Naval Forces, 2002, Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 56-59; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, https://proquest.umi.com.
[10] J.A.C. Lewis and David Mulholland, "Thales, DCN mull HDW buy," Jane's Defence Weekly, 16 July 2003, https://jdw.janes.com; Kirsten Bialdiga and Gerhard Hegmann, "U.S.-Investor bleibt bei HDW im Boot," Financial Times Deutschland, 16 October 2003, www.ftd.de.
[11] Jean-Loup Picard, "The French naval armaments industry," Naval Forces, 2002, Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 38-46; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, https://proquest.umi.com; "French Defense Industry Forecast," www.janes.com, 1 December 1998; J. A. C. Lewis, "Paris Approved Part Privatisation of DCN," Jane's Defence Weekly, 22 December 2004, https://jdw.janes.com.
[12] J. A. C. Lewis, "Paris Approved Part Privatisation of DCN," Jane's Defence Weekly, 22 December 2004, https://jdw.janes.com; "DCNS (France)," Jane's World Defence Industry, 19 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[13] Joris Lok, "Jean-Georges Malcor - Senior Vice President, Thales Naval Division," Jane's Defence Weekly, 4 May 2005, https://jdw.janes.com; "DCNS (France)," Jane's World Defence Industry, 19 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[14] "French Defense Industry Forecast," www.janes.com, 1 December 1998.
[15] Jon Rosamond, "Pakistan commissions AIP-Equipped Agosta," Jane's Defence Weekly, 8 October 2008, www.lexisnexis.com; Nick Brown, "Pakistan Enhances AIP Fleet with DCN Order," Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 March 2007, www.lexisnexis.com; "SSK Agosta 90B Class Submarine, France," www.naval-technology.com.
[16] "Agosta: Pakistan's Tailor-Made Transfer of Technology," DCNS, https://en.dcnsgroup.com; "Second Mesma AIP Ready for Shipment to Pakistan," Defencetalk, 23 June 2011, www.defencetalk.com.
[17] Denise Hammick, "Chile's Second Scorpene Arrives in Country," Jane's Defence Weekly, 3 January 2007, www.lexisnexis.com.
[18] "The Naval Shipbuilding Directorate (DCN)," Military Technology, August 1998, Vol. 22, No. 8, pp. S26-28; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, https://proquest.umi.com.
[19] "Malaysia acquires Scorpene submarines," DCN, www.dcn.fr.
[20] Sager Ahmad, "Submarines Pass Tests to Carry Out All Tasks," New Straits Times (Malaysia), 21 August 2010, www.lexisnexis.com; "Scorpene Submarine KD Tun Razak Leaves France for Malaysia," DCNS, 5 June 2010, https://en.dcnsgroup.com.
[21] "DCNS Chairman & CEO Patrick Boissier Visited Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in India," DCNS Press Release, 8 December 2010, https://en.dcnsgroup.com; "DCNS to Showcase Wide Range Expertise at Defexpo India 2012 from 29 March to 1 April," DCNS Press Release, 27 March 2012, https://en.dcnsgroup.com; Josy Jones, "Scorpene project to miss target again as Spanish consultants quit," The Times of India, 15 April 2013, https://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com.
[22] Sarah Diehl and Eduardo Fujii, "Brazil's New National Defense Strategy Calls for Strategic Nuclear Developments," Issue Brief for the Nuclear Threat Initiative, 30 October 2009, www.nti.org.
[23] "Construction Begins in Brazil on First DCNS Designed Scorpene Class Submarine at Ceremony Attended by Brazil President, Dilma Rousseff," DCNS Press Release, 18 July 2011, https://en.dcnsgroup.com; "Brazilian Submarine Construction Progress Detailed," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 17 October 2011, www.lexisnexis.com; "Brazil Launches Construction of Four Scorpene-Class Submarines," RIA Novosti, 17 July 2011, en.rian.ru.
[24] "Acordo Entre o Governo da República Federativa do Brasil e o Governo da República Francesa na Area de Submarinos," DEFESA@NET web site, 23 December 2008.
[25] "French submarine maker sees India contract signed soon," Agence France-Presse, 12 December 2003; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe, https://web.lexis-nexis.com.
[26] Jacques Isnard, "A French submarine is heading to Asia for six months on an export mission - the odyssey of La Praya in Southeast Asia," Le Monde, 21 October 1997; in "Submarine heading to Asia to promote French technology," FBIS Document FTS19971021000889; "Acordo Entre o Governo da República Federativa do Brasil e o Governo da República Francesa na Area de Submarinos," DEFESA@NET web site, 23 December 2008.
[27] "Sous-marin nucleaire d'attaque type Rubis," French Defense Ministry, www.defense.gouv.fr.

August 15, 2013
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2018.