Even though the Abbott Government appears to have been leaning toward the Japanese-built submarines to replace the current Collins class fleet, Swedish defence giant SAAB has signaled its desire to be part of the process.
The AFR reports that SAAB recently took over the company which built the Collins class subs, forming SAAB Kockums as part of the larger Saab conglomerate.
Hakan Bushke, CEO of SAAB, didn’t mince words in conveying his enthusiasm to be part of a bidding war for the design and build of the new fleet. But he also put a little subtle pressure on the Prime Minister to hold a formal contest.
“As of July 2, Saab completed a full takeover of Kockums [the designer of Australia’s existing Collins class submarines] which is now Saab Kockums and the Swedish Kingdom now controls the intellectual property for the Collins class submarines,” Bushke said.
If there is an open competition [for the Australian submarine] Saab Kockums will be in it.”
In terms of the price that SAAB could offer, Bushke said his firm would be competitive.
“We are a small country of 9 million people with defence spending only 1.17 per cent of GNP so we are used to offering our customers affordable solutions . . . we can compete in the battle for affordability,” he said.
Sweden, Germany and Japan all now seem to be able to deliver the new fleet at or below $20 Billion and given the political environment, it seems the Prime Minister might be forced to announce a formal tender for the fleet.
Labor’s most effective politician, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, has called for an open tender and it is increasingly looking like the Government is being wedged toward this. To do anything else would cause huge political fallout in South Australia and add to the list of broken electoral promises.
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