The senior executives were in Poland June 14 and 15 presenting the Scorpene, which is a frontrunner in the Polish tender, said François Dupont, director of the international trade department.
That French Scorpene is competing with the 212CD submarine from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and A26 boat from Saab in a closely watched competition reported to be worth 10 billion zloty (U.S. $2.71 billion). A creation of 2,000 local jobs and offer of the MBDA cruise missile are part of Naval Group’s “highly significant offer,” he said.
Naval Group has long played down the impact of political discord between France and Poland stemming from Warsaw’s cancellation in 2016 of talks for an offset deal tied to 50 Caracal military helicopters. The previous Polish government had picked Airbus Helicopter as preferred bidder, but the present administration cancelled that when it took office.
Meanwhile, chances of Naval Group of winning a sale of two Scorpene to Italy and displacing the incumbent supplier TKMS seem to be slim.
“This is a complex campaign,” Dupont said. Italy is due to add a further two U212A boats to the present four-strong fleet built by Fincantieri under licence from TKMS. Political ties between France and Italy hit a low this week, calling into question whether Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte would go ahead with a June 15 visit to France. But Conte went ahead with the meeting with president Emmanuel Macron, despite the French head of state three days earlier decrying the “cynicism and irresponsibility” of Rome in turning away the Aquarius, a humanitarian rescue ship with 629 migrants aboard.
In Canada, Naval Group has explained why concerns over handing over intellectual property rights led to a joint offer with Italian partner Fincantieri being submitted directly to the Canadian government rather than observing a procedure calling for filing a bid to Irving Shipbuilding.
“We have explained, we have been heard,” he said.
Naval Group hopes the Franco-Italian offer will win over rival bids which include the Type 26 frigate from BAE Systems, which Dupont points out has yet to be built. In India’s plan to acquire six more submarines under the P-75I project, Naval Group hopes its supply of the first six Scorpene in the P-75 program with local partner Mazagon Dock Limited will lead to a follow-on deal.
Exports are critical to Naval Group, which seeks to make half of annual sales from foreign deals by 2020, compared to around a third presently. Dupont, a graduate of Columbia University, took up his post as head of international trade on April 2. Dupont previously worked for Thales, specializing in export sales of sonar systems.