Until now, the French naval group had failed to sell its Scorpene submarine to a European navy, as its German competitor ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems [TKMS] had beaten it to the acquisition process in recent years.
And this pattern could have been repeated yet again in Romania, which in 2018 announced that it was considering the recovery of a submarine capacity to deal with security concerns in the Black Sea region.
However, the Romanian project could not go beyond the declaration of intent, partly due to budgetary complications. But it was reactivated in 2022, with the prospect of a significant increase in military spending up to 2.5% of GDP from 2023. “The Black Sea is very populated: it is full of ‘sharks,'” justified Vasile Dîncu, then Minister of Defense.
Then, after meeting with his French counterpart, Sébastien Lecornu, in June of that year, Dîncu announced that a letter of intent had been signed for the purchase of at least one Scorpene submarine and helicopters. “We have started the procedures to present it to Parliament,” he told the Romanian press.
Dîncu has since been forced to resign, But his successor, Angel Tîlvăr, follows the same line. In April, he submitted a request to the Romanian Parliament to authorize the purchase of “submarine-type vessels” that would enable the Forțele Navale Române [Romanian Naval Force] “to carry out reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering missions, as well as ‘actions of combat’ against enemy surface ships and submarines,’ whether in ‘territorial waters, international waters, hostile coastal areas or even in high-risk areas far from our own naval bases.’
On 18th May, the Romanian Parliament gave the go-ahead for the launch of the “submarines against surface and underwater threats” program. And there is talk of equipping the Romanian naval force with not one but two Scorpene-type submarines within eight years.
The cost of this acquisition is estimated at 2,000 million euros. This sum also includes the supply of torpedoes and countermeasures, as well as the initial logistic support and the training of the personnel that will operate them.
As a reminder, the Naval Group offers three versions of its submarine: Scorpène Compact, dedicated to littoral operations; Scorpène Basic and Scorpène 2000. It is “stealthy, easy to use and autonomous thanks to its third generation air-independent propulsion [AIP] system.”, which gives it 18 days of autonomy at sea”, stresses the manufacturer.
With a 60 to 82-meter length and a displacement of up to 2,000 tons when submerged, the Scorpene is equipped with the Subtics combat system, six 533mm torpedo tubes with 18 torpedoes and even SM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles.
In any case, the Naval Group will now have to transform the test… so as not to repeat the scenario of the four Gowind corvettes that Bucharest chose in 2019 after a very competitive tender. However, the 1.2 billion euros contract has not yet been closed.