Swedish defence giant Saab Group has launched an audacious bid to build the Australian navy’s future submarine.
In a move that could mean thousands of jobs for South Australia and other states, industry sources have told News Corp Australia that Saab Group has presented a three-pronged strategy to secure the $20 billion plus Federal Government contract.
It includes a lower price than its competitors and a smooth flow of Japanese submarine technology from the Soryu Class boat, because Sweden is a partner in the Japanese project.
There will also be substantial technology transfer and industrial offsets for Australia, including jobs in Adelaide during the build phase, and a raft of new defence industries
Saab Group recently reclaimed former Swedish submarine builder Kockums from German giant Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and is moving fast to win the $20 billion plus Australian contract.
A spokesman for Defence Minister David Johnston confirmed that a Swedish bid had been received.
“We are aware that an unsolicited proposal was sent to Defence,” the spokesman said.
The company’s global chief executive officer Hakan Buskhe will publicly launch the plan in Fremantle next Tuesday (NOV11) during the Submarine Institute of Australia’s centenary conference.
Kockums was the design and build partner for the navy’s controversial Collins Class submarine and Saab Kockums wants to extend the relationship into the next generation of conventionally powered vessels.
The company builds the Gotland Class submarine — the first boat in the world equipped with air independent propulsion — that is widely regarded as one of the most stealthy submarines in the world.
During recent exercises with the US Navy off California HMS Gotland “sank” a nuclear powered submarine as well as the pride of the US Fleet the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. Her crew captured periscope images of the carrier to prove the “kill”.
According to well-placed sources heavy lobbying and fears about an electoral backlash in South Australia have pushed the government to back away from earlier plans to simply buy the Japanese Soryu Class boat straight “off the shelf”.
Both the Swedes and Germans are offering brand new vessels to meet the navy’s key requirements of size, range and stealth.
News Corp Australia also understands that the government is set to launch a project definition study before the end of 2014 for the nation’s biggest defence project that includes Japanese, Swedish, German and French options.
Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed that an announcement was imminent.
“We need to decide quickly and whatever we do decide will be in the best interests of the entire nation,” Mr Hockey said.
It is understood that Mr Buskhe will meet with Senator Johnston next week to discuss the Saab bid.