Business case JFS: part 1

You think I misspelled that? Well your wrong. It stands for a new project called: Joint Future Submarine (JFS). No not again…. You could think! First let me explain the used terms:

Joint – A submarine is a strategic asset important for the whole defence force. It will gather intelligence over sea, and over land, it will insert and extract Special Forces, it will influence warfare on land with land-attack missiles and act as a (satellite) communication relay, between forward / expeditionary positioned land and air forces, if necessary.

Future – this one should be clear, a submarine design must be compatible for future uses. Just like the Walrus class we may expect them to operate for long lifetime. They must be built in a modular way to insert future technology at the moment not even available.

Submarine – yes ofcourse, the vessel is a submarine. They will be of the non-nuclear type. But must be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion systems. The type, just as the Walrus class should be able to operate independently on long ranges and without any direct support vessels.

Well we can learn from past mistakes now do we? So if some projects failed in the past because they had the program management wrong, they put new demands into the program in between, and they produced aircraft while testing had not been finished… yes than such a project is bound to fail…. Again. But if we get this the right way… well than such a project can be very promising.


The Royal Netherlands navy operates 4 Walrus class submarines build locally in the Netherlands.  The builder at that time has gone bankrupt in a very suspicious way in with it looks like the Dutch Government intentionally didn’t do anything to safe them. Before that they did some attempts to sell some export submarines.. for example to Taiwan.  Although older and not equipped with AIP engines the Walrus class are of very high standards and quality still one of the best diesel submarines operational worldwide. For more information on the Walrus…. Including its current upgrade read this. The Walrus class submarines are capable and used for the following tasks:

  • Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
  • Special Forces Insertion
  • Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW)
  • laying sea mines;

But certainly also important especially during peacetime operations:

  • Reconnaissance and protection of shipping (SLOC)
  • Electronic and Signal intelligence
  • Enforcing international sanctions
  • conducting coast reconnaissance;

In future submarines will be capable of the same things, but in my opinion they will become more focused on delivering special forces and operate unmanned systems. Also there is a visible trend that submarines more and more will be used to influence warfare on land. Therefore any future submarine should be able to deliver Land-attack capability. In a future article I will go deeper into the necesaty of operating submarines now and in the future. One point I want to make now is that worldwide we see the balance of submarine users drops to the “other” side.

The decrease in demand in the mature market in the West and the increasing demand from the rest of the world, which has limited industrial capability but stable financial growth, has led to growing licence production through technology transfer agreements – a trend that is expected to increase.

Needless to say that the RNLN and, beyond that, Europe as a whole need a proper submarine and submarine hunting capability to secure Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) and to secure future energy and raw materials.

Submarines form an essential core of today’s naval fleets as a result of their flexible mission capabilities and ability to complement other strategic resources. Worldwide, 41 countries possess submarine capability and together operate 450 submarines. Most of these nations are modernising their fleets or increasing them as a result of changing security situations. A total of 154 submarines are to be procured over the forecast period (2011–2021), costing in excess of US$180.0bn.

North America is expected to constitute 46.27% of the market during the forecast period – a total of US$87.3bn. The US, as the largest defence spender in North America, accounts for almost the entire amount.

European nations are expected to cumulatively spend US$46.2bn across the forecast period and constitute 24.48% of the total submarine market.

Regional hostility prevailing among Asian states is also driving the submarine market, which is expected to cumulatively be worth US$46bn across the forecast period, 24.35% of the total market.


Brazil and Argentina are the main spenders in the submarine sector in Latin America, totalling US$8.6bn, 4.55% of the market.

Expenditure on submarines in Europe will remain constant, with a cumulative total of US$46.2bn to be spent over the forecast period. However, expenditure is much lower than during the Cold War, as most European countries have significantly reduced their arsenal following the demise of the Soviet threat. Countries such as Norway are contemplating eliminating their submarine capability entirely, while others such as Germany have drastically reduced their fleet by divesting older equipment as a result of fiscal deficit.


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