Brazil Provides Details of Nuclear Submarine Program
Given the wrong information recently published in the media on the development program of the Brazilian nuclear-powered submarine, which will be developed in partnership with France, and given undue comparisons between this partnership and a previous proposal by the German company HDW, based on the IKL-214 model, the Defense Ministry is issuing the following clarification:
The two projects are not comparable
The German proposal was only for the construction of two conventional submarines (diesel-electric propulsion), without the evolution to a nuclear-powered submarine, because Germany does not produce any (it has zero percent of this market). Also there would have been some transfer of technology, design, and maintenance work, but only for construction purposes, and in a limited way.
The French proposal, from DCNS, includes the construction in Brazil of four Scorpène conventional submarines, which will allow the country to develop a submarine with nuclear propulsion, and it includes the transfer of all related technologies, not only for construction of the boats but also for the entire project, including the combat systems.
The proposal also includes the design and construction of a site dedicated to the manufacture of nuclear-propelled submarines (and conventional ones as well) and a new naval base able to house them. The nuclear part of submarine is fully national, developed by the Brazilian Navy in a research and development program started in the 1970s.
Restrictions on maintenance
Germany does not transfer technology for the design or maintenance of submarines. In the construction of the current submarines that Brazil operates (IKL-209), the forward section (bow), which houses the tubes for launching torpedoes, was manufactured in Germany and the maintenance of combat systems (sonar, system management fire, etc.) can be made only with the presence of German technicians.
Yard and base are available since 1993
The construction of a new yard and a new base in Sepetiba (Rio de Janeiro state) for nuclear-powered submarines is provided by the Navy since 1993, making it inconsistent to claim that it is an unnecessary expense imposed by the French.
Claiming that this work is unnecessary means ignoring the fact that nuclear-propelled submarine that can only be built on dedicated sites that meet quite specific technological and environmental requirements and which no existing shipyard in Brazil can satisfy. Furthermore, the current conventional submarine base in the Bay of Guanabara does not provide sufficient depth for a nuclear-powered submarine.
Brazil demanded that the base and the shipyard be constructed by a Brazilian company having responsibility for the project. France’s DCNS chose, freely, its partner and selected the Odebrecht construction company. Regardless of who was responsible for the project, the secrecy of the project would have been maintained, as maps of military installations are not subject to disclosure required by a public tender.
Design similar to that of nuclear submarine
The hull of the Scorpène submarine has the typical design of a nuclear-propelled submarine, and employs technology developed in the design of the submarine "Barracuda", a new class of French nuclear attack submarines still under construction. This will facilitate the evolution of Scorpene to our nuclear-powered submarine. Furthermore, the Brazilian Navy has extensive documentation that shows the high degree of satisfaction of the Chilean Navy with the Scorpène conventional submarine operated by that country.
Nationalization of 36 thousand items
On the contract with France, the national content index reaches 20%, representing the production in Brazil of more than 36,000 items for the submarine, including complex systems, in addition to the transfer of technology to domestic companies. There are already more than thirty approved Brazilian companies, and several others are in the process of qualification. Any additional parts will be purchased directly from the manufacturers, which reduces costs.
The evolution of the submarine program in Brazil
The Brazil-France agreement should be viewed as a phase of a program initiated by the Brazilian Navy three decades ago, with the objective of enabling the country to build nuclear-propelled submarines. It is not therefore a simple transaction of buying new equipment. While we developed the technology for a nuclear reactor to propel the submarine at the end of the 1970s, the Navy began a program of construction of conventional submarines in Brazil, in agreement with HDW of Germany.
Of the five IKL-209 model submarines provided under that agreement, the first was built in Germany while the remaining four were manufactured in the Navy Arsenal in Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ). The Tikuna is the most modern of the group. Despite the advances made by the German partnership with Brazil, the country still lacks the technology to develop projects, for maintenance of the equipment, and for development of the nuclear-propelled submarine.
For this reason, Brazil has sought partnerships that allow this new and fundamental step forward in our defense strategy. The agreement with the French will allow the construction of each of the four conventional submarines in increasing degrees of national involvement, up to the construction of nuclear-propelled submarine, with the technological skills acquired from DCNS.
The importance of nuclear submarines to Brazil
The National Defense Strategy prioritizes the ability to deny the use of the sea near our territory as an essential element of our defense.
Brazil needs both conventional and nuclear-powered submarines to first perform this task and then to protect its coastline, including the pre-salt-water area beyond the Amazon. For the protection of our extensive maritime border, having a conventionally-armed but nuclear-powered submarine is an essential element of this strategy.
The project will also allow the transfer of vital dual-use technologies which will further increase the competitiveness of Brazilian industry, strengthening of the main objectives of the National Defense Strategy, which is integrated into more and more to the national strategy of development.
Program for the Development of a Brazilian Nuclear-Powered Submarine