Can French submarines seduce Canada?

Since the cancellation of the Australian contract for the construction of 12 Attack-class submarines derived from the Shortfin Barracuda, the French authorities, and the manufacturer Naval group, are sparing their efforts to try to offset the economic and industrial effects of this decision, in particular by stepping up political and commercial action to convince other possible international partners to acquire French submersibles. In this context, the will of President Emmanuel Macron to meet "quickly" the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to "discuss the consequences of the new AUKUS alliance", opened the way to many speculations concerning a French offer to replace the 4 Victoria class submarines acquired second-hand from the United Kingdom in the early 2000s, and which suffer from significant obsolescence and serious technical problems, making their operational use very difficult and uncertain.

It is on the basis of this Canadian emergency to replace its submarines, and on the fact that Ottawa has been ignored by Washington, London and Canberra as part of the AUKUS alliance, that some French media have highlighted. , probably after having been goaded in one way or another, a supposed excellent position of a French offer based on the same submarines as those developed for Australia, with the main argument being the saving of time, and of credits, offered by the aborted Australian development. However, one should be very careful in making these statements. If it is likely that Emmanuel Macron will raise the subject during his meeting with Justin Trudeau, let us note in passing that no date has yet been communicated on this subject, to convince the Canadian Prime Minister, and with him the the country's parliament, which has a large say on the subject, will certainly not be an easy task, and will most likely not be settled in a simple conversation between the two men.

The Royal Canadian Navy encountered many difficulties in implementing and maintaining the 4 Victoria class submarines acquired from Great Britain in the early 2000s.

Indeed, while it is true that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom, traditional partners in the Canadian defense effort for several decades, are in a position to offer Ottawa a short-term solution, including potentially nuclear, to replace the stopped ships of the Royal Canadian Navy, the French proposal is far from the only one on the desk of Justin Trudeau. Thereby, Japan, and its Taïgeï-class AIP oceanic submarine, has already undertaken to get closer to Ottawa on this subject, with a ship whose two units have already been launched, and whose first unit is under test and is due to enter service in March 2022. Other Western manufacturers, such as TKMS with Type 212 NG, Navantia with the S80 pluss, Hyundai with the Dosan Ahn Chango, or Kockums with the A26, are also in the running, with ships most of the time already under construction or even in service, and a much less uncertain future than that of the French model.

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