Poland to Acquire Second-hand Submarines from Sweden? Head of the MoD Confirms the Negotiation’s in Progress

Image: Försvarsmakten
Image: Försvarsmakten

Poland is currently involved in talks pertaining to procurement of second-hand submarines from Sweden. The acquisition is aimed at obtaining a gap filler, until the Orka new generation submarine procurement programme is finalized. We have found out, unofficially, that the talks concern two A17/Södermanland Swedish submarines.

Head of the Polish Ministry of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, announced, during the Polish Navy Day, that cooperation with the Swedish partner has been considered to be the most beneficial gap-filler solution in the area of submarines. Analytical phase has already come to an end and negotiation is going on now. The Minister announced that this is not a final solution and that Orka programme (assuming that three new generation submarines would be acquired) is to be continued.

Earlier on Błaszczak had been stating that acquiring a gap-filler submarine is a priority of his for the Navy. Currently Poland operates a single Kilo-class submarine that dates back to the late 1980s, along with two Kobben submarines that are much older and need to be withdrawn and replaced.

Some rumors were circulated, suggesting that Poland is willing to acquire submarines from a number of different sources, Brazil included. Ultimately however the MoD considered the Swedish offer to be the most beneficial one. Thus, Poland began negotiation with Sweden.

The unofficial information that obtained suggests that the talks concern acquisition, or leasing for a period of time, and subsequent purchase, of two A17 submarines. The vessels in question: HSwMS „Södermanland” and HMwMS „Östergötland”; would undergo overhauls and repairs, including use of the A26 submarine elements at Saab Kockums, with a pricetag of 2.5 billion crowns (around 1 billion zlotys). This might be important for the company, as according to numerous reports of the Swedish media (including Dagens Industri), Saab Kockums is in urgent need of receiving new orders to be able to continue its operations smoothly.

Swedish government, on the other hand, is planning to procure two Archer-class submarines from Singapore - RSS “Archer” (ex. HMwMS „Hälsingland”) and RSS „Swordsman” (ex, HMwMS „Västergötland”). These were commissioned in 1986 and 1987. Prior to being transferred to Singapore they underwent an in-depth modernization in 2009 and 2010. The vessels in question would be operated by the Swedes until new A26 subs are delivered. Thanks to the above, the Swedish Navy would operate five submarines, along with three existing A19 Gotland vessels.

If procurement of A17 submarines by Poland is a go, this would make it possible to maintain capabilities for some time, after the Kobben-class vessels are withdrawn. At the same time, head of the MoD clearly stated that the acquisition is not a final solution. What follows is the fact that Orka programme assuming acquisition of three submarines that would also carry missiles, is still a subject to implementation.

During the analysis concerning the aforesaid programme three offers were mentioned: French offer by Naval Group (Scorpene submarines with NCM missiles), German offer (212CD submarines, type 214 had also been mentioned before) and Swedish offer by Saab, with the new A26 platform. Poland had been declaring its requirement for the procurement to include a broad transfer of technology with regards to the new vessels.