Spanish shipbuilder Navantia has begun building the fourth S80 submarine described by Manuel Filgueira, managing director of the company, as “the most modern classic propulsion submarine in the world.” Navantia was a partner with its French counterpart DCNS to build the very successful Scorpene submarine sold to Chile, Malaysia, India and Brazil. The S-80 is more than largely inspired by the Scorpene but has a Lockheed Martin designed combat system.
The original idea behind the Hispano-French partnership was that it would lead to a more permanent arrangement to avoid what has since happened: at least three European shipbuilders (including Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems) competing against each other on a small export market.
Construction on the first of the Spanish S80s was started in 2006 and will be delivered in three years. Filgueria says that export efforts for the S80 were concentrated on Australia which could go to market for 12 or 13 subs to replace its six problem-plagued Collins-class domestically designed and built subs. But he said that in any case construction of a future Australian S-80 would not start before 2013 when the first of the Spanish ones would be delivered. However Navantia is not alone in hoping to succeed in the Royal Australian Navy's Future Submarine project, SEA 1000 (where it did beat DCNS in the competition for landing-helicopter docks).