GÖTTINGEN, Germany — Norway intends to cooperate with Germany in purchasing four new submarines for its naval forces.
The Norwegian Ministry of Defence announced Friday that the partnership is based on the joint procurement and operation of identical submarines in the coming decade. Germany will buy two boats.
In the fierce competition between the two remaining bidders, Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems beat out France's DCNS. Last year, the latter outclassed its German rival and secured a major submarine contract in Australia.
The German shipbuilding company is now able to secure the multibillion-euro order, of which exact figures will not be disclosed before the project has been presented to Norwegian lawmakers this spring, a spokeswoman with the ministry said.
According to the Norwegian MoD, the decision involves a broad and long-term Navy-to-Navy cooperation encompassing submarines and other naval capabilities. The German MoD even could imagine a joint submarine command. The cooperation will include training, exercises, spare parts, maintenance and lifetime management of the new submarines. The identical design of the six boats also would enable the swap of crews.
The ministry said the submarines will be based on the 212-class subs already in service in Germany and Italy. Basing the submarines on an existing design will allow Norway to avoid an extensive development project as well as the risks involved in such an undertaking.
The project also includes cooperation between the Norwegian and German industry. Most likely the German Navy will buy Kongsberg's Naval Strike Missile for its future MKS 180 frigates, while the Norwegian company will provide the battle management system for the new submarines.
Norway will now enter into final negotiations with German authorities. When a government-to-government agreement is in place, a German-Norwegian negotiation with TKMS will commence.
The plan is to sign a common contract for the submarines in 2019 and start delivery from the mid-2020s to 2030. This timeline should ensure a continuous Norwegian submarine capability as the six Ula-class submarines reach the end of their life.
The MoD also wants to continue cooperation talks with nations like the Netherlands and Poland in order to achieve even greater synergies and economies of scale. Sources familiar with the subject stated that the Royal Netherlands Navy recently has shown interest in the project as it also plans to replace its aging subs.