Preliminary Consultation Launched for the Orka Programme. South Korea Involved?

ORP Orzeł sub.
ORP Orzeł sub.
Photo. Jarosław Ciślak

Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence Mariusz Błaszczak announced that a preliminary market consultation has been launched, regarding the procurement of the Orka submarines.

The Orka programme has been launched. The Armament Agency has launched the preliminary market consultations, regarding the new generation submarine for the Polish Navy. The Orka programme is one of the key modernization projects, pursued by the Polish Armed Forces. Our goal is to procure the submarines, along with a relevant technology transfer.

Let us remind that minister Błaszczak announced the plan to start Orka submarine project this year during Defence24 DAY 2023 conference. At that time Błaszczak underlined that the new submarines should be capable of staying submerged for a long time and of using both torpedo and missile-based weapon systems.


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The preliminary market consultation launched by the Armament Agency would be aimed at getting acquainted with the options in the realm of procuring new submarines. The vessels are to meet the minimum requirements as follows:

  • Ability to achieve submerged and surfaced speeds adequately meeting the requirements of the modern battlespace;
  • Operational autonomy of at least 30 days;
  • Ability to reach depths beyond 200 meters;
  • Capability to attack surface threats and underwater threats with torpedoes;
  • Capability to attack surface threats with missiles;
  • Capability to attack land threats at a stand-off distance with missiles;
  • Capability to attack air threats with missiles, with those threats including helicopters flying or in hover or Maritime Patrol Aircraft;
  • Capability to use hard-kill and soft-kill torpedo countermeasures;
  • Capability to deliver and recover SOF operators;
  • Capability to dock a manned/unmanned rescue vehicle;
  • Capability to employ sea mines (at the cost of the torpedoes);
  • Capability to deploy ROVs or AUVs;
  • Use of propulsion technology allowing the vessel to remain submerged and operate in such a setting over extended periods;
  • Necessary logistics package;
  • Necessary training package for the crew, and the military overhaul entities;
  • Weapons: torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, missiles capable of attacking land targets, SAMs, countermeasures;
  • Dedicated remotely controlled, or autonomous underwater vehicles, capable of working with the submarine;
  • Possibility of delivering submarines within a set timeline, including, based on the recently developed technologies, and the contractor's manufacturing capacity.

As we can see, these requirements refer to a state-of-the-art, well-armed, and well-equipped vessel. Hence, we can only be considering a brand-new submarine delivered by a reputable contractor. The broad group of potential suppliers will certainly include the following: Germany, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea.

The requirements are not specific when it comes to the propulsion type. The unofficial rumors suggesting nuclear propulsion are ungrounded. This excludes the US and the UK - which currently manufacture solely the nuclear-powered submarines. Russia and China also can be ruled out, for reasons that remain obvious.

Recently, the potential procurement of submarines in South Korea seemed to be less than likely, but the role of that country as a supplier of military equipment for Poland has grown lately. According to unofficial information that is aware of, the proposals from Republic of Korea are among those seriously considered. Could the Korean submarines be an option for the Polish Navy?