Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Scorpène class submarine

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Scorpène class

US$450 million

Preceded by
Agosta class

Scorpène-class submarine

DCNS Navantia Mazagon Dock Limited Brazilian Navy Shipyard

Chilean Navy  Royal Malaysian Navy  Indian Navy  Brazilian Navy (planned)

Kalvari class CA-2000 CM-2000 AM-2000 S-BR

The Scorpène-class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by DCNS. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP).


The Chilean Navy ordered two Scorpène-class boats, which replaced two Oberon-class submarines retired by the Chilean Navy. In 2005, the Indian Navy ordered six Scorpène-class; all the Indian boats will be built in India, at Mazagon Dock and elsewhere, and the last two are to be fitted with an Indian Fuel cell AIP module. For the follow-on requirement of six submarines, DCNS plans to offer a larger version of the submarine to the Indian Navy. In 2008, the Brazilian Navy ordered four Scorpènes.

The Chilean Scorpène-class O'Higgins and Carrera were completed in 2005 and 2006, respectively. In 2009, the Royal Malaysian Navy commissioned Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak.

Scorpène characteristics

The Scorpène class of submarines has four subtypes: the CM-2000 conventional diesel-electric version, the AM-2000 AIP derivative, the downsized CA-2000 coastal submarine, and the enlarged S-BR for the Brazilian Navy, without AIP.

The Chilean and Malaysian boats are fitted with the TSM 2233 Mk 2 sonar. The class can also be fitted with an 'S-Cube' sonar suite from Thales.

Air-independent power

The French Module d'Energie Sous-Marine Autonome (MESMA) system is being offered by the French shipyard DCN for the Scorpène-class submarines. It is essentially a modified version of their nuclear propulsion system with heat being generated by ethanol and oxygen. The combustion of the ethanol and stored oxygen, at a pressure of 60 atmospheres, generates steam which powers a conventional turbine power plant. This pressure-firing allows exhaust carbon dioxide to be expelled overboard at any depth without an exhaust compressor.

Each MESMA system costs around US$50–60 million. As installed on the Scorpènes, it requires adding a new 8.3 metres (27 ft), 305 tonne hull section to the submarines, and enables a submarine to operate for more than 21 days under water, depending on variables such as speed.

Some of the submarines built for the Indian Navy will have Phosphoric acid fuel cell-powered AIP modules designed by the Naval Materials Research Laboratory of the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

DCNS is also developing second-generation hydrogen fuel cell AIP modules for future Scorpène models.

Scorpène information leak

In mid-August 2016, The Australian newspaper reported that design details of the Scorpène-class submarine and other ships had been leaked. The leaked information spreads over 22,400 pages and includes detailed information about the submarine's combat and stealth capabilities. The leak also included information about noise levels, submarine frequencies and more. Despite all the information leaks, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba was quoted as saying that the leaks were being viewed "very seriously", but were "not a matter of much worry". The report also suggested that an ex-French Navy officer working as a sub-contractor for DCNS may have been the source of the leak, and that the leaked data may have been written in France in 2011. However, on 30 August 2016, a court in New South Wales temporarily banned The Australian from releasing any more confidential data on the Indian Scorpène-class submarines.


In 2009, Brazil purchased four enlarged Scorpènes for US$9.9 billion with a technology transfer agreement and a second agreement to develop a French/Brazilian nuclear-powered submarine. The hull of the first S-BR (S35) was laid down at Cherbourg on 27 May 2010 and is to be jumboized at the Brazilian Navy Shipyard in Sepetiba in late 2012. The latter three submarines will be built there entirely, and are planned to be commissioned in 2018, 2020, and 2021. The nuclear-powered submarine could be a variant of the Scorpène class (which would make it similar in concept to the Rubis-class submarine) or one of the more powerful Barracuda class.


In 2005, India chose the Scorpène design; purchasing six submarines for US$3 billion (US$500 million per boat). Under a technology transfer agreement, the state-owned Mazagon Docks in Mumbai will manufacture the submarines, and deliver them between 2012 and 2016, however the project is running four years behind schedule. Construction started on 23 May 2009. India plans to incorporate the DRDO-developed air independent propulsion (AIP) system onto the last two submarines being built and also to equip the P75I submarines, of which the DCNS is participating in the tender process. In November 2014, reported that the DRDO-developed AIP system for the last two Scorpène submarines for the Indian Navy has been developed and would be ready for testing in February 2015. The first Scorpène submarine, named INS Kalvari, was undocked for the purpose of starting sea trials in April 2015 and will be delivered in September 2016. In August 2016, over 20,000 confidential pages of the submarine's manual were leaked by Australian media, stirring up a controversy about the impact to India's ambitions of fielding a blue-water navy. DCNS answered that those documents were not crucial.


In December 2016, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence announced that Norway would sign a contract for four new submarines before the end of 2019. These would either be Scorpène vessels from DCNS or German U-boats from Thyssen-Krupp. Norway would also be looking into possible cooperation on maintenance and construction with other potential buyers of the same submarines, such as Poland or the Netherlands. In February 2017, the Norwegian Government announced that it intended to procure its new submarines from the German manufacturer, Thyssen Krupp. Norway and Germany will buy submarines together to mutualize expenses. In practice the tender was cancelled and exclusive, government to government, negociations were initiated.


On 1 March 2011, the Naval Shipyard Gdynia of Poland and DCNS offered a license to build a yet undisclosed number of modified Scorpène-class boats. The Scorpène design is competing with that of the German Type 214 submarine.


In 2003, the Spanish government ordered four Scorpène AIP submarines worth €1,756 million. However, the Spanish navy canceled the order, and ordered four S-80-class submarines, instead. This has caused conflicts and controversies between DCNS and Navantia, as the latter is still involved in the construction of the submarines sold to India, Malaysia, and Chile, while the S-80 is offered on the export market. As an answer to the competition from the S-80, DCNS designed its own enhanced version of the Scorpène called the Marlin class, but little is known about this design and the Scorpène is still offered by France on the export market. The dispute was settled when Navantia gave up export rights on the Scorpène class, leaving DCNS sole responsible for the project.


Scorpène-class submarine Wikipedia

Similar Topics