Saab, Sweden’s top defence prime, has committed to working with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to develop underwater capability concepts.

In a 5 December press release, the manufacturer stated that it will add and refine “new technologies to existing solutions.” Saab implies that these new concepts may integrate into the construction of the Royal Swedish Navy’s two A26 submarines.

Sweden’s two conventional A26 Blekinge-class submarines have been undergoing construction since September 2015 at Saab’s Kockum Shipyard, in the south-west of the country. Both parties expect the contract to be delivered by 2028. GlobalData intelligence estimates the contract allocation is worth $731m.

The A26 submarine’s modular hull structure, made from special steels, offers high-seakeeping performance and operational effectiveness. The X-rudder configuration with four independently controlled control surfaces provides high manoeuvrability. The submarine requires low operating and maintenance costs.

Furthermore, Saab has expressly stated it is “currently constructing the world’s most advanced conventional submarine.” This is largely thanks to advancements in its stealth technology, such as the Sterling Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system to allow the diesel-powered vessels to spend longer periods underwater without having to surface to recharge batteries.

Senior vice president of sales and head of Saab’s business area, Mats Wicksell, stated “underwater capabilities are of vital interest for Sweden. Saab’s submarines are among the most modern conventional submarines in the world and a key capability for Sweden.”

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Through its iterative development process, Saab and the Swedish Government are hoping to integrate future concepts to enhance the vessels further.

There has been some development in AIP stealth technology since the A26 programme was first conceived. Saab’s previous claim as a trend-setter in such stealth tech is dated as other companies such as Navantia have already green-lit their own AIP solutions for non-nuclear submarines.