According to Dutch media AD.nl which first published the information yesterday, the long awaited « B-Letter » will announce which company or companies will be allowed to participate in the definition phase. Some imprecise words that could mean a further delay in this 3.5 billion Euros program.
According to Naval News‘ source who has first hand knowledge of the matter, the B-Letter, which was set to down-select one (or more than one) finalist, was expected to come out in late October or early November. It appears now that the program is facing yet another delay (even-tough this one may be short).
According to AD.nl, the latest development is leading to some political tensions: « How much longer do we have to wait ?, » asked Martijn van Helvert, from the Christian Democratic Appeal party. Visser asked for patience and pointed out that it is « an ongoing tendering process ». According to her, the delay is due to the Defense Industry Strategy (DIS) paper issued in November 2018. This document states that future purchases of defense equipment do not only look at the best product at the best price. There must also be « the greatest possible involvement of Dutch business ».
With that strategy in hand, the four providers were asked for further information in April, said Visser. « All of that must now be taken into account. I hope to send you the submarine letter this year, » she added.
The Walrus replacement program calls for three (or four, the B-letter will give the final number) new submarines with deliveries starting in 2027. The Dutch Navy seeks a large conventionnal submarine of about 3,000 tons in displacement. It must be able to conduct long oceanic transit in order to reach the Dutch Antilles rapidly.
In addition to the Saab-Damen team, the other competitors for the Walrus Replacement Programme are France’s Naval Group (along with their local partner Royal IHC), Germany’s TKMS and Spain’s Navantia.