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Collins subs supported: Sweden hits back at Canberra

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A Swedish defence chief has hit back at the Abbott Government’s claims that the nation is no longer equipped to build submarines.

The Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, this week published a letter by the head of the Swedish Defense Material Administration in response to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s claims that Sweden’s submarine expertise was out of date.

The letter reportedly asserts that “a new design, based on the Collins, would be the path of lowest cost and least risk, and would build on the good work already carried out by Australian industry in the construction and maintenance of Collins”.

Abbott said this month that only a few countries in the world had the capacity to design and build submarines, including France, Germany and Japan.

On Sweden, which was involved in the design of the Australian Collins Class submarines, he said: “The last Australian submarine came off the production line in about 2001 … the last Swedish submarine came off the production line in 1996, so it’s almost two decades since Sweden built a submarine.”

According to a translation of the Swedish report published by website, The Diplomat, the head of the Swedish Defense Material Administration, Lena Erixon, wrote to the head of the Australian Defense Material Organization (DMO) in early March.

The letter asserts that Sweden “maintained a full capacity to design and build submarines both for Sweden and for export over the last 20 years”.

The letter lists major Swedish projects including “the construction of three Gotland-class submarines – nicknamed ‘Sweden’s Little Carrier Killer’ – four Challenger-class submarines for Singapore, two Soedermanland-class submarines for Sweden, and two Archer-class submarines again for Singapore, between the years 1996 to 2013″.

The letter specifically attacks the Abbott Government’s evaluation process.

“What is most surprising is the exclusion of Sweden from the evaluation process, based on what seems to be inadequate information. At no stage has the DMO requested a detailed briefing about the scope and complexity of the programs recently undertaken by Saab Kockums [a Saab subsidiary] and how these were taken from the design stage to build.”

The letter also asserts that Sweden’s submarine design capabilities now exceed those of Saab during the Collins project.

 

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