The defence minister expects the four S-80 series submarines to be completed by the end of 2028.

LEFT TO RIGHT. JAVIER DEL CORRAL. MARGARITA ROBLES. AMPARO VLVCARCEL, GERMAN ROMERO AND PEDRO LUIS DE LA PUENTE.

The Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, expects the complete group of S-80 submarines ordered by her department to be completed by the end of 2028. Specifically, the other three remaining submarines “are under construction” and this construction, she confirmed, “is well underway”.

Robles travelled to Cartagena on Wednesday to attend the launch of the first submarine of the S-80 series, the S-81 ‘Isaac Peral’, before it moves on to the next milestone, which will involve the dynamic immersion of the submersible at different depths from Thursday onwards. She was also informed of the update on the status of the S-80 submarine programme.

In this regard, the minister commented that “the commitment is that by the end of 2028 the other three submarines will be ready”, the production of which is “well advanced”, so that by that date the complete group of the S-80 series will be available with the four operational vessels.

Robles highlighted the “very positive” evolution of the programme, which involves the completely Spanish design and construction of four state-of-the-art submarines that will be delivered over the next few years, and which is an “unequivocal commitment to the Spanish Navy and Armed Forces”, as well as to the national defence industry, reports Defence.

“We have seen first-hand the very positive evolution of the S-81, we are making very good progress. We believe that the Spanish Armed Forces, which are modern, efficient and prepared, must have the necessary and sufficient means, which is why it is absolutely essential and necessary for them to have these submarines. The S-80s are a priority for us,” said the minister.

Robles stressed that the programme, which has an investment of 6,000 million euros and for which Navantia is the main design authority, will create 7,000 jobs and will have a positive impact on many other companies, both in the Region of Murcia and in the rest of Spain. He also highlighted the “high technology available in the country”.

“It is a complicated and difficult programme, but it will put the Spanish Navy, the Spanish defence industry and Spain in one of the top places in the world in the field of the Armed Forces,” said the head of the department.

She recalled that five years ago, when she arrived at the Ministry of Defence, this programme “was not working, but we have always been very clear that we have to make an unequivocal commitment to our armed forces and to the Spanish Navy”.

The first of the submarines, the S-81 ‘Isaac Peral’, carried out its first dive in March and is currently undergoing sea trials. The head of the Cartagena Arsenal, Vice-Admiral Pedro Luis de la Puente, stressed that this Thursday authorisation will be given to move on to the next phase, in which the submersible will carry out all its navigations in immersion, prior to its delivery scheduled for the end of November.

ROLE OF NAVANTIA
After witnessing the sailing of the submersible on the Indio Chico beach, Robles went to the Aula Magna of the Navy Diving Centre, where she attended the presentations by the Secretary of State for Defence, Amparo Valcarce, and the Director General for Armaments and Material (DIGAM), Aniceto Rosique, about the S-80 programme.

The Secretary of State emphasised that in the naval field Navantia is a key element that has understood very well its vocation “as a driving company in the development of a naval industry network”, whose value chain exceeds 120 companies involved in naval programmes.

“The S-80 Programme is an example of this leadership, but we must not forget the naval programmes as a whole, because there is a strong operational and industrial interconnection”, Valcarce emphasised, referring to the F110 frigate programme and the BAM IS. “This programme is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious technological projects, very complex, a project of this size has never been undertaken before,” he said.

During his presentation, in which he explained the programme’s situation, challenges and security milestones, Admiral Rosique stressed that the new submarine meets the requirements of being “a design authority, complying with the defence industrial strategy, being a product that is as nationalised as possible, as well as a national design that makes the country a design authority”.

The latest generation S-80 conventional ocean-going submarine programme means that the Spanish Navy is among the best equipped in the world in terms of submarine weapons, and Navantia is among the ten countries capable of designing and building conventional submarines worldwide.

The design of these submarines, with a length of 80.8 metres and a diameter of 7.3 metres, is more like a spaceship than a surface vessel and is designed to operate autonomously and with great stealth for long periods of time, thanks to a revolutionary propulsion system independent of the atmosphere that allows it to generate and store electrical energy.

The S-81 will be followed by three other submersibles that are in the production phase, with varying degrees of progress but in a “very advanced position”, as confirmed by the Defence Minister. All of them have been named after pioneers of submarine navigation, the S-82 ‘Narciso Monturol’, the S-83 ‘Cosme García’ and the S-84 ‘Mateo García de los Reyes’, which will be delivered to the Navy between 2024 and 2028.

After the visit, which was also attended by the Secretary of State and Director of the National Intelligence Centre, Esperanza Casteleiro, they moved on to the San Javier Air Base, where Robles congratulated the student pilots for their effort and work “after some very intense years”.

“You can feel very proud”, she said to the students, after which, fifth-year student ensign Javier Tornero took the floor to thank the minister “for making clear with her words the generosity and love she feels for us, for what she knows and is very aware of what we do”.

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