The Swedish Government has approved initiation of the design phase for the A26, a new generation submarines slated to replace the Gotland class submarines currently in service with the Royal Swedish Navy. The Swedish shipbuilder Kockums, that have specialized in maritime stealth designs, will be responsible for the new design, that will also have stealth capabilities.
The new 1400 ton diesel-electric powered sub will be designed primarily for littoral operations and, with Kockums Stirling Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) providing it with long endurance, characteristic with ocean-going capabilities. The Stirling system, together with a set of balanced underwater signature properties, will make the A26 submarine stealthy and difficult to detect. It will also be higly invulnerable to underwater explosions (mines, depth charges) through verified shock resistance design.
The new design includes an auxiliary payload capability with a flexible payload lock system, in addition to the conventional torpedo tubes, enabling the submarine to carry and deploy unmanned underwater vehicles or other oversized payloads for different missions. The submarine will also be prepared for network connectivity. Kockums embarked on the concept for the next generation submarine in December 2007 and is currently negotiating the A26 design contract with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV).
The Swedish Navy plans to procure five submarines of the new class. Norway has also expressed interest in the new submarine. Earlier in the 2000s Sweden, Norway and Denmark participated in a joint development and procurement of the Viking class ‘Nordic Submarine’ program which was later shelved due to the cancellation of the Danish submarine force.