In the Netherlands, Naval Group’s offer was €1.5 billion cheaper than Saab-Damen’s

Just a month ago, The Hague announced that the proposal from the French Naval Group, based on the Blacksword Barracuda submarine, had been preferred to that of the Swedish Saab associated with the Dutch Damen, for the replacement of the four submarines. of the Walrus class of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Barely had the decision been made public when Saab and Damen questioned its merits, arguing for a more efficient offer from both an operational and industrial point of view, and promising not to stop there.

The companies had one month to appeal the Dutch ministerial decision to the Dutch courts. This period is now coming to an end, and neither Damen nor Saab have filed a complaint.

And for good reason ! Even if they promise to take the fight to the Dutch Parliament from now on, it turns out that Naval Group’s offer, the total amount of which is still not detailed, was €1.5 billion less expensive than that proposed by Saab and Damen.

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Saab-Damen calls into question a price “inaccessible to a private company” in the face of Naval Group’s Blacksword Barracuda submarine

To explain such a price difference, which can be estimated between 25 and 33% of the total price, the Dutch naval group and its Swedish partner highlight the superior operational qualities of their model, without however providing any details to support these assertions.

type="image/avif"> type="image/webp">A26 Blekinge>>

type="image/avif"> type="image/webp">A26 Blekinge>>
Saab-Damen’s offer was based on an evolution of the Swedish A26 Blekingue, a submarine designed specifically to operate in the Baltic Sea.

We can also doubt these, to the extent that, objectively, the Naval Group submarines have been chosen by five naval forces and 16 examples, over the last twenty years, and not the least (Brazil, Chile, India, Indonesia, Malaysia), while Saab and Kockums no longer exported submarines from the two Archer-class ships to Singapore, in the early 2010s, second-hand Västergötland-class ships entered in service in 1986 and 1987.

The final score is disproportionately influenced by a very low price [de Naval Group]which is much lower than the realistic price for private defense companies“, we can read in the press release on this subject, implying that the difference in price would be linked to the public company status of Naval Group, the French State holding 62.25% of the group, Thales 35 %, and the balance, 1.75%, by the company’s employees.

Note that Damen does not provide, here either, any element to justify a particular role of the French State in this area. This is not the first time that the Dutch group has denounced the public shareholding of Naval group, like that of the Spanish Navantia or the Italian Fincantieri, which would distort competition, according to its analysis.

The fact remains that with such a price difference, we understand that the Dutch decision-makers had a lot of difficulty in bringing into play the national preference, especially since Damen itself took advantage of a more attractive offer to take over the construction F126 frigates for the German Bundesmarine, to the great dismay of industrialists across the Rhine.

Saab and Damen promise more investment in Dutch industry than Naval Group

However, if Saab and Damen have renounced legal action, knowing full well that with such a difference in prices, it would have been wasted effort, they have not given up on derailing the Franco-Dutch program .

type="image/avif"> type="image/webp">Naval Group Blacksword Barracuda>>

type="image/avif"> type="image/webp">Naval Group Blacksword Barracuda>>
The Blacksword Barracuda promises to be a very high performance submarine. We wonder what superior performance the offering from Saab and Damen can claim?

The selection of Naval group, at the end of the competition organized for the replacement of the four Dutch Walrus submarines, must, in fact, be validated by the Dutch Parliament during June 2024, while the latter now has a majority (not absolute ) nationalist, since the legislative elections last fall.

The two groups are already preparing their arguments, to seduce Dutch parliamentarians, by announcing superior performances, on the one hand, and by promising greater investments in industry and the Dutch economy, on the other. other. No one would say that with €1.5 billion more, that’s the least we can do.

Note that, at the same time, Naval Group has undertaken to prepare its Dutch subcontracting network, announcing, in this regard, the signing of several industrial partnerships to fully involve the Dutch economy and industry, a few years ago. days of that.

Do not repeat, for Naval Group, the same error as in Australia, by neglecting the weight of public opinion

However, the same trap is now emerging for the French industrialist as the one that was set for him in Australia, notably by Saab. Indeed, due to its national character, Damen enjoys, and quite naturally, an excellent image within Dutch public opinion, while Saab, for its part, has extensive experience in campaigning. political influence and public opinion.

type="image/avif"> type="image/webp">Shortfin barracuda australia>>

type="image/avif"> type="image/webp">Shortfin barracuda australia>>
The hostility of Australian public opinion, structured politically and industrially for years, was the keystone of the cancellation of the Shortfin Barracuda contract.

It will therefore be necessary for Naval Group to ensure that it maintains, and even develops, a high-quality and attractive image among Dutch public opinion, and by transitivity, among the country’s parliamentarians, to avoid a reaction under the influence media emerges against the French offer, as was the case in Australia.

French Defense groups, traditionally and culturally, carry out few actions towards this type of public, which is nevertheless decisive in the case of parliamentary democracies of an Anglo-Saxon nature, as in Australia, and as in the Netherlands.

We must therefore hope that Naval Group will not be surprised, or contractually forced, as was the case in Australia, to endure smear campaigns led by other industrialists, or even political exploitation of the contract, as this issue is strategic. for the industrialist as for the entire French naval BITD.

We might think that French participation in another Dutch program, for example, the heavy anti-aircraft frigate program, as mentioned in a previous article, would be an excellent way to kill the debate, while ensuring popular support. increased, while providing the French Navy, in the process, with the two anti-aircraft frigates which it lacks today. Win-Win, they say…

Article from April 12 in full version until May 19

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