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In a remarkably terse press release, DCNS and Navantia today announced their final divorce in their marriage of convenience over the Scorpene submarine.“DCNS and Navantia have put an end to their disagreement concerning their submarine collaboration,” it stated, which one might at first have thought meant top-level meetings between their management had been successful, particularly given the next statement: “As a result, the arbitration procedure between them will be terminated.”But then, like a well-written play, the full meaning becomes clear in the next phrase:“Scorpene submarines will from now on be built and marketed by DCNS. Similarly, S80 submarines will be built and marketed by Navantia.”And, just in case you are tempted to want to know more, the statement ends with: “Neither party will make any further comments.”So, what does all this actually mean? Well, it puts an end to the 15-year Franco-Spanish collaboration on conventional diesel-electric submarines, which is not good news at a time when tighter defense budgets across Europe means industry really should rationalize, particularly in the naval sector where there are still far too many national players all competing against each other in a narrow market.The 18-month dispute in Paris courts between the French and Spanish shipyards arose when DCNS accused Navantia of plagiarizing technology from Scorpene to develop the larger S80 submarine, four of which have been bought by the Spanish navy, but which is also being proposed on the export market in competition with the Scorpene ... without success for the moment.The French were particularly annoyed that the S80 is being built in collaboration with Lockheed Martin which is supplying its combat system.DCNS and Navantia have co-built 10 Scorpene submarines: two each for Chile and Malaysia and six for India in their respective shipyards at Cherbourg and Cartagena with DCNS holding about 65% of the work share. Intellectual property, however, was equally shared between the two.So, from now on Scorpene becomes an entirely French product, marketed only by DCNS and S-80 will continue to be marketed by Navantia.The first S-80, S-81, should be delivered (a year late) in the first quarter of 2013, according to Spain's secretary of state for defense Constantin Mendez. The last of the four, S-84, should be delivered to the Spanish Armada in 2016.DCNS, meanwhile, will be busy on the four Scorpenes it has sold to Brazil.
ar99, France, Spain
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