Navantia called on the expertise of some of Europe's leading naval players. The S-80's screw propeller was designed with Sweden's SSPA, the diesel engine with Germany's Tognum MTU and the simulators with Spain's Indra, which is also supplying the radars. Navantia also analyzed five different combat systems “and the S-80 has been designed to cope with the most complex of them,” remarks Pascual, adding that “potential clients can choose their own weapon and combat system for this submarine giving them unrivaled flexibility to select American, European or domestic sensors and weapons.” He says the Spanish navy chose Lockheed Martin's system so as to have “commonality with our frigates.”
Grant Corcoran, international business development manager for Lockheed's Undersea Systems, tells Aviation Week that the partnership for the combat system was established early. “We applied lessons learned from U.S. submarines to put together a customized version for the Spanish navy,” he says, stressing that the combat system for the S-80 is a “co-development.”
The 71-meter-long S-80 has a range of 8,500 nm (15,742 km) at 4 kt. (7.4 km/hr.), a maximum operating depth of 330 meters, a maximum speed of 19 kt. and a maximum snorkeling speed of 11 kt. It will be crewed by 32 men and women, including a “special” women's cabin for five and specific sanitary arrangements, Pascual explains, a new addition to Spain's subs. There will also be cabins for eight commandos.
During the 15 years it worked with France's DCNS on the Scorpene submarines sold to Malaysia, Chile and India, Navantia regained expertise it had let slip. And the S-80 joint venture was to be the foundation for a rationalization of Europe's military shipyards. But after Navantia signed the S-80's development contract in March 2004, DCNS executives changed their minds and in November 2010, after a somewhat acrimonious dispute, the companies agreed that DCNS would retain intellectual property and marketing for Scorpene (which France had meanwhile sold to Brazil, excluding Navantia), while Navantia would continue with the development and marketing of the S-80.