SINGAPORE — Singapore has announced it will acquire two more submarines from Germany, adding to the two it acquired in 2013.

In an announcement made at the opening day of the defense and maritime exhibition IMDEX Asia in Singapore, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the two boats will replace the older submarines of the Republic of Singapore Navy, or RSN.

The latest submarines will be delivered from 2024 onward, with Ng calling the latest acquisition "another important step in the RSN's modernization effort". Ng also said that the first two Type 218SG submarines from Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems are on track to be delivered in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

A news release from Singapore's Defence Ministry added that construction of the first two Type 218SGs are progressing following the first steel cutting in 2014. No contract value for the new submarines was released, but it had previously been reported that the original contract was worth $1.8 billion.

The 230-foot-long Type 218SG has a displacement of 2,000 tons. Figures released by TKMS indicate that the crew size of the class is 28. According to Singapore's Defence Ministry, the design is "tailored to meet the RSN's unique operational requirements," and the boats "incorporate design innovation and advanced maintenance and engineering concepts to optimise training, operation and maintenance costs." 

Thies Stüber, the project manager of the Type 218SG program at TKMS, told Defense News that the decision was a big sign of trust Singapore has in the Type 218SG design, calling it the "result of the excellent cooperation between TKMS, DSTA (Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency) and the Republic of Singapore Navy."

Stüber added that the first boat is currently being fitted out at the TKMS shipyard in Kiel, northern Germany. Based on the model of the Type 218SG on display at the TKMS stand at IMDEX, the Type 218SG will have an "X" rudder, which offers enhanced manoeuvrability in the confined littoral waters found around Singapore, similar to the Type 212 submarines operated by the German and Italian navies.

The model also shows that Type 218SG is fitted with eight forward-firing torpedo tubes for heavyweight torpedoes.

The submarines will also have air-independent propulsion in addition to the regular diesel-electric propulsion system, with the onboard combat system tailored to Singapore's requirements being developed by Germany's Atlas Elektronik in conjunction with Singapore's ST Electronics.

The two new Type 218SGs are expected to replace Singapore's existing two Archer-class boats, which are former Swedish Västergötland-class submarines refurbished and extensively modernized in the early part of this decade.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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