Sweden’s Gotland Class submarine has been relaunched and is now ready to start sea trials following a mid-life upgrade, with the new technology a preview for what Australia could see on the Collins Class submarines under the upcoming life of type extensions.
After a comprehensive mid-life upgrade (MLU) HSwMS Gotland was relaunched this week in Karlskrona.
While Sweden's Kockums-designed Gotland Class submarines have received regular overhauls and upgrades during their operation life, under the latest MLU Gotland now has new capabilities that will be found in the next generation of Swedish submarines, the A26.
The MLU, undertaken by Saab, saw the integration of key systems, with Gunnar Wieslander, senior vice president and head of business area Kockums at Saab, saying the submarines have been completely revitalised and modernised.
"The relaunch of Gotland is an important milestone in the evolutionary development of Swedish submarines. After a comprehensive upgrade, integrating the latest generation of important systems such as the Stirling engine, modern sensors and new management functions, Gotland is almost a new submarine, ready to take on missions around the world," said Wieslander.
The mid-life modification consisted of upgrades of onboard systems and technology, sustaining the submarine’s operability, and ensuring service to Sweden beyond 2025.
The upgrade process entails many important systems, such as the Stirling air-independent propulsion (AIP), while sensors and management system have been replaced with updated versions. The traditional optical periscope has also been replaced with a new optronic mast.
Saab says this updated version of the Gotland will pave the way for the most modern AIP submarine under production today: the A26 for the Royal Swedish Navy.
More than 20 systems onboard the new Gotland Class will be implemented in the A26, with the MLU of Gotland contributing to the test and qualification of some of the innovative solutions to be implemented in the future Swedish A26 submarine class.
Australia's Collins Class submarines are enlarged versions of the Västergötland Class, the class of submarines that preceded the Gotland Class, with the potential for some of the new technology in the Gotland Class to be integrated for future upgrades and life extension of the Collins Class.
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The Collins Class submarines are already undergoing upgrades to their sensor capabilities, with the Australian government recently awarding Thales Australia a $230 million contract for the upgrade of the sonar technology across the whole fleet.
The fleet will be Australia's only submarine capability until the early 2030s as the Navy awaits the Naval Group-designed Future Submarines to enter service.