SAAB, Subs and Timelines

By Dr. Ann Griffiths, 12 June 2024

This is a second installment about my trip – sponsored by SAAB – to Sweden in May. In my previous post I discussed the vibrant Swedish defence industry and examined a few differences between Canada and Sweden in terms of naval focus and challenges. In this post, I want to comment briefly on submarines and timelines.

After some serious hiccups and a change of ownership of the facility, two submarines are being built for Sweden by SAAB Kockums in Karlskrona, Sweden. These two submarines – the A26, or Blekinge-class – will join the submarines Sweden already has. Although behind the initial timelines, the first sub is scheduled to be complete in 2027 and the second in 2028.

In our briefings it was made clear that SAAB Kockums would be happy to work with Canada on a new submarine – and would be willing to work with RCN personnel on the design. (It was also pointed out that Babcock maintains Canada’s subs and SAAB has relations with Babcock so maintenance contracts could stay with the same company.) A preliminary design has already been suggested, the C71 which would be a larger version of the A26. There are no existing versions of this sub, but preliminary designs exist for it.

So how does this relate to Canada? Canada is ‘exploring’ the possibilities and options of new submarines. How long this exploration will last is unknown. What was most interesting to me in the discussion about Canada and the C71 was the timeline. SAAB Kockums will finish building the second A26 in 2028. We were told that the detailed design work for a C71 would take three years, and the build would take four years. So, if Canada made a decision to purchase the C71, a design could be finalized in the next three years and then, as the second A26 is finished and the SAAB Kockums production line is still hot, the C71 build could start. Imagine that – if the timeline held which is of course never certain -- Canada could get a new AIP submarine in less than 10 years. SAAB Kockums’ C71 is not the only contender for Canada’s new subs (if there are any), and other companies are undoubtedly making their own case, but the timelines work nicely here.   


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