A-26 Blekinge-Class Swedish Submarine: The Silent Killers

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A-26 Blekinge-Class Swedish Submarine
A-26 Blekinge-Class Swedish Submarine

Introduction

Submarines are unique tools for securing national interests. In a world where any movement or asset is exposed, being able to act undetected has never been more crucial. Submarines play a vital role in a wide range of naval operations and tasks, from peacekeeping to warfare operations, in both offensive and defensive roles. Submarines can perform national missions that no other asset can.

US Navy vs Swedish Submarine

The US navy is the world’s most powerful navy and has the most diverse fleet in the world. The US navy has so many naval aircraft carriers that it makes US navy the second biggest air force in the world second only to the actual USAF. A single Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carrier can carry twice the number of fighter jets than any other aircraft carrier in the world but a single Swedish diesel powered submarine sank this mighty naval aircraft carrier during war games in 2005. A single Swedish submarine was able to penetrate the defensive shield of the aircraft carrier, the US aircraft carrier was highly protected by a dedicated fleet of naval ships but the whole fleet whose only task was to protect the US naval aircraft carrier failed to detect the Swedish submarine.

The main achievement of Swedish submarine are as follows.

  1. It managed to sneak by an entire task force, which was equipped with advanced anti-submarine defenses and managed to enter the red zone.
  2. It was able to hit multiple torpedoes hit not just one right on the aircraft carrier and sank it virtually.
  3. USS Ronald Reagan lost the war game to a single submarine.
  4. After hitting the US aircraft carrier, the Swedish submarine successfully went back into hiding in vast deep oceans and remained undetected even after the strike.
  5. The Swedish Gotland class submarine proved its mettle and proved that it was too stealthy for the world’s strongest navy.

Now the main question arises how Swedish submarine managed to pull off such a big goal. The main reason behind this is the concept of making the submarine as silent as possible and as stealthy as possible. Swedish have a concept that any submarine that is not detectable by the enemy is just “INVINCIBLE”. Ships equipped with anti-submarine warfare equipment are so advanced and so sensitive that they can differentiate between the submarines based upon the operating frequency of the alternating current used in its power systems. The 60 Hz alternating current of a US sub can easily be differentiated from the 50 Hz current of European subs. The electrical and electronic components of the subs must be insulated properly from the hull so that it cannot be detected.

The swedes managed to create a submarine so silent that it was practically undetectable by passive sonars. They managed to achieve this feat by utilizing “Stirling engine” as the power source of the submarine; these engines are not as efficient as other diesel engines, but they are less noisy than any other diesel engine. The Gotland class Swedish submarines use two Stirling engines that use diesel and liquid oxygen to provide heat which run the electric generators of the sub. These electric generators run the motor of the submarine and charge the batteries of the submarine as well. Submarine runs on diesel power in normal scenarios but when it goes into stealth mode it uses the power stored in its batteries to power the motor for short duration of time but during this period, the sub is practically undetectable and becomes lethal for the enemy. When submarine is running on diesel fuel, it compresses all the exhaust gasses and stores it onboard allowing the sub to stay submerged for up to two weeks.

A-26 Blekinge-Class Swedish Submarine

A-26 Blekinge-Class Swedish Submarine
A-26 Blekinge-Class Swedish Submarine

The new submarine project was intended to be an improved version of the Gotland class, The Blekinge-class submarine is next generation of submarines developed by Kockums for the Swedish Navy also known as the A26 type.  The project was called “U-båt 2000” and was intended to be ready by the late 1990s or early 2000. The project lay dormant for years until the mid-2000s when the need for a replacement for the Södermanland class became apparent. Originally the Scandinavian countries had intended to collaborate on the Viking class, but Denmark’s withdrawal from submarine operations meant that Kockums proceeded on their own.

The new submarine would have blue water capability, something earlier Swedish submarines have lacked. It will be equipped with modified AIP Stirling propulsion and GHOST (Genuine Holistic Stealth) technology, making the submarine extremely quiet. It will also be designed to withstand significant shock loads from underwater explosions and would be able to “Launch and recover vehicles” through its torpedo tubes. By combining a unique range of capabilities, state-of-the-art stealth technology, Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP), high endurance, versatile combat system suite and various weapons, swedes have created a shock-resistant, modular designed submarine for maximum operational flexibility.

There are three variants available.

  • Pelagic.
  • Oceanic
  • Oceanic (Extended Range).

The entire Blekinge-class submarine family has been offered for export equipped with 18 VLS-cells for Tomahawk cruise missiles.

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