The firm that develops the submarine’s anaerobic motor, which allows it to navigate two weeks of immersion, has successfully tested a prototype.
The S-80 submarine project has been questioned for years. Cost overruns, design failures, renounce to advanced technologies that were included in the original plans, continuous delays in deliveries … But the good news is beginning to emerge: the AIP system tests have been “positive” and show that the device is “viable”.
The problems encountered during the design and construction phase of the submarine even crossed the borders of Spain. As told by El Confidencial Digital, the program ‘ Great Failures of Engineering’, which is broadcast on British television, came to be included among the most famous ‘botched’ worldwide.
However, in the light of the news that has been emerging in the last year, the project seems to be heading towards a more or less ‘happy’ achievement. It is expected that Navantia will finish the first of the ships in 2021, and will be delivered to the Navy at the end of that year. The forecasts suggest that, after the relevant sea trials and certifications, the submarine will be fully operational on the horizon of 2023.
Will contribute to this disbursement extra 1,500 million of euros that provided the Defense Ministry, bringing the total cost up to 3,685. Funds that will cover the extra cost that has caused the delays and setbacks found during the production phase.
The failures of the AIP
One of the most serious, apart from the design failure that affected the vessel’s buoyancy, were the defects found in the AIP propulsion system, the greatest technological advance that the initial project had.
This system is based on a fuel cell fueled by hydrogen generated on the basis of bio-ethanol and basically allows the submarine to be propelled without the need to obtain oxygen from the surface, either by surfacing or by ‘snorkelling’.
This advance supposes great operative capacities since it allows the submarine to remain submerged during 13 uninterrupted days. A decisive plus for a ship of furtive conception and that would turn to the S-80 in the submarine with greater autonomy in the immersion of the world – except for the nuclear propulsion ships, obviously-.
After multiple problems in the development process of the prototypes, I have even drastic changes in the direction of the program and in the companies that were in charge of it, the system seems to be heading towards a positive resolution.
At the end of 2017, the firm Técnicas Reunidas started a series of tests with a reduced prototype of the size of the AIP system. And as El Confidencial Digital has learned from sources very close to the project, the tests have been “positive”.
The data obtained from the tests, according to these voices, point to the ” viability ” of the system, which should now be developed over the next few years at a real size. They will be installed in the third and fourth units of the S-80 family, while the S-81 and the S-82 would equip a conventional diesel-electric propulsion system.
Sources of the Navy, pertaining to the submarine weapon, assure that in the Spanish Navy they have received this first news of the advance in the system AIP with ” relative optimism”. You do not want to throw the bells on the fly, but there are those who maintain that the S-80s begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Source: El Confidencial Digital