The Abbott government will come under growing pressure to include Sweden in its future submarine plan with Sweden set to buy between two and five of the latest Saab-Kockums A-26 submarines for its navy.
The Swedish Government wrote to the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) this month expressing dismay at comments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Sweden had not built a submarine in 20 years. .
On Thursday the government in Stockholm is expected to announce that it will sign a contract with Saab-Kockums to build two of the latest A-26 boats for the Swedish Navy.
The first boat will be in service by 2022 at a cost of below $1 billion.
The Collins Class submarine operated by the RAN since 1996 is a Kockums design and much of the engineering expertise used on that project still exists at the company’s headquarters at Malmo in southern Sweden.
South Australian Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said Saab-Kockums must be included in the “competitive evaluation process” for the $20 billion plus project.
He said it appeared that Sweden had been excluded because it was a strong and clear competitor committed to building in Australia.
“Expert advice suggests that the Swedish, Australian built option is low-risk; economic analysis has also established its benefit to the Australian economy,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
“Saab-Kockums is the only contender to have designed and built the closest conventional submarine to meet Australia’s current requirements.”
Mr Hamilton-Smith said an evolved “Son of Collins” built in Australia would be the lowest risk and most cost-effective option.
“Kockums has maintained an advanced its submarine-building capability and since 1995 it has delivered 11 submarines (17 if you include the Collins Class from 1996-2003). Three of the 11 were the Gotland Class,” he said.
Government sources said Sweden had been excluded due to past problems over access to intellectual property.