Argentina evaluates construction of a nuclear submarine

Argentina evaluates construction of a nuclear submarine

After the tragedy of ARA San Juan and almost a year after Argentina’s Armada has no operational submarines, the Argentine government is considering the possibility of designing and building a nuclear submarine. The goal is to put it in water in the year 2025.

The project envisions the development of a compact nuclear reactor to propel the hull of the ARA Santa Fe, a submarine TR-1700, similar to ARA San Juan and whose construction was abandoned 25 years ago, when it was completed by 70 percent.

The structure of this submarine has been in the shipyards of the Complejo Industrial y Naval Argentino (Cinar) since the mid-90s, and for the project’s progress, they must allocate US $ 5 million over the next three years.

The initiative was made public yesterday in the House of Representatives in the plenary commissions for Defense and Technology, in which it was decided to request reports from the Executive Power to explain the feasibility and implementation of the project.

The possibility that Argentina could build a nuclear submarine, at a time when Brazil is developing its own, surprised the armed forces, which are still waiting for the government’s response to the demands for the low salary readjustment announced on the same day that the Nuclear reactor project was analyzed in Congress.

The meeting was led by the heads of both committees, MPs Sandra Castro (FPV-San Juan) and Nilda Garre (FPV-Capital). “With the entry of several invited experts, deputies who make up the Science and Technology and Defense Committees, we will analyze the feasibility of Argentina to have a submarine with nuclear propulsion, based on national technology,” predicted the former minister of Defense when announcing the call.

As a result, both committees agreed to request that Mauricio Macri’s government report “to use the studies carried out and completed at the Bariloche Atomic Center for the Development of Conceptual and Basic Engineering of an Underwater Type of TR-1700 Nuclear Propulsion” .

Among the naval specialists who were consulted were retired admirals José Luis Pérez Projeto Varela, submarine manager of the Tandanor and Carlos Castro Madero shipyard. In addition, they presented their visions the naval historian Ricardo Burzaco, specialized in submarines and editor of the magazine Defensa y Seguridad-Mercosur, and Horacio Calderon former representative of the shipyard Domecq Garcia, who participated in the construction of ARA Santa Fe that was dismantled in years 90.

In relation to the unfinished submarine, it is estimated that there are enough parts to finish and other components can be imported, besides updating the passive systems and active sensors.

Congressman Carlos Gaston Roma (Tierra del Fuego-Pro) recommended incorporating the draft budget to “allow the development of feasibility conditions to transform the diesel-electric project into nuclear propulsion. It would, however, be a hybrid propulsion: electric and nuclear. “The reactor can also serve for an icebreaker and any other type of vessel,” he added. The development of the project and construction it would involve the company Invap and the Navy, taking into account the Brazilian model.

The discussion is not less in terms of costs. The US $ 5 million needed to advance the project would be to complete the feasibility study. To put it in the water will have to think about an investment of US $ 500 million. .

In the plenary commission it was noted that Australia signed an agreement to buy subsea-non-nuclear French of US $ 3.1 billion. In this regard, citing an article by engineer Joseph Converti, researcher and professor at Balseiro Institute, explained that Russia intends to develop a new nuclear submarine for US $ 500 million. And among other more ambitious plans for France, which develops “Le Triomphant project, with an estimated budget of US $ 3.8 billion” was mentioned.

In addition to efforts by Brazil, which has already made a political decision to advance this technology, countries with nuclear submarines are China, Russia, USA, UK, France and India. Argentina aspires to join this select group, amid strong budget constraints that limit the military.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.