Saab has unveiled a modified A26 submarine fitted with vertical launched land attack cruise missiles at the IMDEX Asia maritime and defense exhibition in Singapore, the first time such a system has been fitted on a conventionally powered boat.
The model on display at Saab’s stand at IMDEX Asia showed three cylinders with six vertical launch cells each in the lengthened midships section of a model of an A26 submarine. Saab says the lengthened section adds 33 feet and about 400 to 500 tons to the displacement of the A26.
According to Gunnar Öhlund, head of marketing at Kockums, which is part of Saab, the lengthened module “shows the flexibility in performing different missions” of the A26, which he says can also be used for stowing and deploying unmanned underwater vehicles and even special forces or naval divers.
Saab says that the lengthened module can be fitted on newly built submarines or retrofitted onto existing boats as part of a Mid-Life Upgrade program. The company has had experience in the latter for Singapore’s Archer class submarines, which were former Swedish Västergötland class submarines with a 40-foot section added for an air-independent propulsion unit.
When asked by Defense News about the effect the addition of the segment will have on the A26’s performance, Öhlund said that Saab’s previous experience with similar work on other submarines has shown that any effects on their overall performance.
Defense News understands that the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, or TLAM, is being proposed by Saab for a potential European customer’s ongoing submarine program. The fact that the company can come up with a firm proposal like this would indicate that it already secured approval from the United States to integrate Tomahawks onto the A26.
Saab has declined to reveal who that customer is, although there aren’t very many European countries that have a submarine acquisition program of record and is close enough to the U.S. to be able to acquire Tomahawks for one to make an educated guess as to the identity of the interested party.