Brazil’s First Locally Built Scorpène Attack Submarine Enters Service
Brazil marked the delivery and commissioning of its first locally built submarine by state-run defense company ICN (Itaguaí Construções Navais) with the aid of a technology transfer program from Naval Group based in France.
The Riachuelo, the first of four Scorpène submarines of the ProSub program being built for the Brazilian Navy at a cost of $9.9 billion, is being highlighted as a major milestone in Brazil’s defense capabilities after it was manufactured and assembled at the ICN shipyard. ProSub is one of the main strategic projects of the Brazilian armed forces and aims to increase the national defense structure and ensure the country’s maritime sovereignty. The country has over 4,000 miles of coastline.
Launched in December 2018, Riachuelo successfully completed her sea trials and has now been delivered and entered into service within the Brazilian Navy. The submarine was originally expected to be delivered in 2020. Humaitá, the second submarine of the series launched in December 2020, is expected to start her trials this month before delivery in 2023. The other two will be delivered by 2029.
The design is based on the French Scorpène class, although the Brazilian version is larger. They are approximately 232 feet in length, which makes them about 30 feet longer than the French vessels they are based upon. The Brazilian submarines reportedly have a top speed of 20 knots operating with a crew of approximately 35.
Riachuelo during her commissioning ceremony (Naval Group)
“The successful delivery of the Riachuelo, the first Scorpene submarine entirely built in Brazil is proof of the success of Naval Group’s transfer of technology. We are proud to be part of the ProSub program and remain fully committed to the deliver the three other units of the series,” said Pierre Éric Pommellet, Naval Group CEO.
The French design group, which specializes in submarines and surface naval warfare ships, has been a long-term partner of Brazil. In 2009, it entered into a strategic defense cooperation agreement with the Brazilian Navy for the ProSub program. Brazil decided to reinforce its submarine force with four new conventional submarines and the development of an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine.
Apart from working with ICN on the project which involves more than 1,700 Brazilians on technology transfer, Naval Group has also selected and qualified many local suppliers who have joined its supply chain for the ProSub contract and other business opportunities. Through a transfer of technology, Naval Group is working with Brazil to build and operate the four conventional Riachuelo-class submarines (Scorpène type) in the new shipyard and operational naval base built in Itaguaí for the purpose.
Scorpène is being presented as a modern, high-performance, and stealthy submarine designed for all types of missions including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations, and intelligence gathering. Extremely fast and reportedly stealthy, it has a level of operating automation that allows a limited number of crew, which reduces its operating costs significantly. The 2,000-ton vessel has six weapon launching tubes, and 18 weapons including torpedoes and missiles.
Currently, the Brazilian Navy operates seven submarines, including five Tupi-class (modified German Type 209) submarines and two Scorpene-class submarines.