Sweden’s premier defence company, the Saab AB has signed a systems provision contract with Lürssen Werft GmbH. The contract will bringing the company into the Bulgarian Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) acquisition project. Saab’s role is to manufacture and oversee the integration of the 9LV family of combat systems, onto the Bulgarian Navy’s two on order Multi-purpose Modular Patrol Vessels. The design, oversight and command role for the shipbuilding project will be undertaken by German shipbuilder Lürssen Werft GmbH, whose OPV 80 currently serves as the design base for Bulgaria’s new warships. The physical assembly and construction of the OPVs will be executed by domestically owned Bulgarian shipbuilder MTG Dolphin. The vessel completion date is set for 2025 – 2026. The installation of the 9LV combat systems product line will be carried out by by staff from Saab’s Surveillance Division, operating as an oversight element over MTG Dolphin integrated systems fitting procedure. The oversight role will include involvement from Saab’s own Kockums shipyards, whose staff are experts in the engineering and emplacement of advanced technical systems onboard under-construction vessels. The adoption of the 9LV combat system, delivers an open architecture based solution allowing the client to chose between a bespoke integrated systems configuration or a Saab recommended integrated systems configuration. The management of the shipbuilding contract and by extension Saab’s 9LV provision contract, will be undertaken by Bulgaria’s Defence Acquisition Directorate. The 9LV combat system’s order price is included in the total estimated cost for the whole of the vessel acquisition project, currently standing at BGN 984M or £456.1M.
The Saab 9LV’s dual combat management system (CMS) and fire control system (FCS), depend on Saab’s multi-function super high resolution, touch screen capable multi-function consoles to allow personnel to vessel interfacing. The console channels the CMS, to facilitate the seamless sharing of imagery data among personnel. The instant share capabilities combine with the excellent communications potential generated by the TactiCall platform to decrease decision making time. The TactiCall’s distance communications credentials are first class showcasing an ability to transfer data across multiple radio bands and frequencies. The TactiCall can also bypass compatibility issues with communication hardware, making difficult information transfers between two vessels of a vastly different vintages a thing of the past. The CMS prepares any vessel it is installed on for the future with an onboard remote command centre to power remote vehicles on the land, under the sea and in the air. The CMS works tirelessly with the fire control system (FCS) to allow mastery over missile launchers and light – medium calibre naval guns, enabled by the coordination of the CEROS 200 and EOS 500 electro-optical devices. The CEROS 200, can be linked up to missiles and naval guns to provide high precision weapons radar, allowing weaponry to ‘see’ and lock onto their targets. The EOS 500 provides a secondary source of object tracking, using a laser rangefinder in place of a radar. The rangefinder functions in coalition with TV and IR cameras to produce accurate ship defence targeting data for the vessel’s weaponry.
Today’s contract will see a third private sector company become involved in the Bulgarian government’s OPV acquisition project. The three private sector partners, Lürssen Werft GmbH, MTG Dolphin and Saab AB relate with the Bulgarian government through the Defence Acquisition Directorate of the Bulgarian defence ministry. Saab AB began in 1937 to produce fighter aircraft for the commercially isolated Swedish government. The firm is currently led by Micael Johanson from their headquarters in Stockholm. Lürssen Werft GmbH was founded in 1875 and has historically been a consistent supplier to the German Navy. The company specializes in the production of small vessels up to corvette size. The company has most recently been involved in the German Navy’s production of their new MKS180 frigate fleet. Lürssen Werft GmbH has its headquarters in the Free City of Bremen and is led by Peter Lürssen. Bulgaria’s MTG Dolphin is the youngest firm involved in the project, being founded in 1991. The shipbuilder presently employs 600 people at its shipyard on the shores of the Black Sea. Saab AB stands to gain substantially from the contract both financially and reputationally. The involvement of the company as a sub-contractor in a larger deal signed by three primary parties, allows it to largely remain out of inevitable inter-corporate friction whilst allowing it to reap contractual rewards. The satisfactory conclusion of the contract will likely lead to Saab AG obtaining diplomatic capital with regional leaders, which could be later used to win further Balkan orders in the future.