Norway will buy four AIP submarines from German submarine specialist TKMS, Norwegian defense minister announced on Friday.
According to Norwegian media, minister Ine Eriksen Søreide told a press conference that Germany was selected because of the two countries’ close defense cooperation.
The other contender for Norway’s submarine deal was French shipbuilder DCNS.
Norway and Germany will now enter negotiations and a final contract for the construction of submarines is expected to be signed by 2019.
The four air-independent submarines will replace Norway’s existing six Ula-class submarines that were commissioned between 1989-1992. The submarines were designed to last for 30 years and will reach the end of their life in the mid-2020s.
TKMS will be delivering its Type 212 submarine that is already in service with the navies of German and Italy. The new submarines will be capable of staying longer underwater and have better stealth qualities. Ine Eriksen Søreide did not comment on the submarines’ armament.
“Submarines are amongst the Norwegian Armed Forces’ most important capabilities and is of great significance for our ability to protect Norway’s maritime interests. It is important that we have found a strategic partner that we can build a broad and long lasting cooperation with,” Ine Eriksen Søreide said.
“This lays a good foundation for the long-term relations we need to maintain a credible submarine capability in the future. Submarine cooperation with Germany will ensure that Norway gets the submarines we require, and at the same time contributing to Smart defence and more efficient defence material cooperation in NATO.”
Norway hopes to receive the first of four submarines seven years after the contract is signed and then have one submarine delivered every year. With the contract signing scheduled for 2019, Norway can expect to have the first submarine delivered by 2022 and all four by 2025.
Back in April 2016, Norway shortlisted, among six contenders, French DCNS and German TKMS as the possible submarine builders.
“Norway’s approach is to base a potential acquisition on an existing submarine design. We want to avoid a large development project with the risk, uncertainty and cost such a project entails. Our criteria is therefore that Norway’s future submarines shall be built by a shipyard that has a long and continuous experience in building submarines,” Søreide said at the time.
Commenting on the announcement DCNS said Norway interrupted the competitive process before its conclusion in order to choose an alternative solution in the framework of a joint intergovernmental procurement with another European country.
“We regret this sovereign decision even if we respect it. We remain convinced that our offer was superior, in particular in the anti-submarine warfare area, crucial for operations and patrols in the High North and we remain at Norway’s disposal to re-engage the discussion, especially if the cooperation planned with the German Government would not reach an agreement.”
DCNS thanks the departments of the Defence Minister and the French Navy as well as its Norwegian and French industrial partners. They accompanied and supported the Group to build up this solid and top-level technological and industrial offer which meets the Royal Norwegian Navy’s ambitions.” the company said in a statement.