The Argentine Navy plans to purchase two unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for hydrographic and minehunting missions for € 450,000, in addition to new traditional units for its submarine command, it was reported.
As per the contract's specifications, the UUVs are to have forward and side-scan search modes, plus triple navigation systems (inertial, bottom mapping, and correction by GPS signal via acoustic modem from a sonobuoy). The new units are to be delivered within one year from the signature of the agreement with the manufacturing company.
”The greatest shortfall has been detected when it comes to having unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) with the capacity to act in underwater environments, especially in capabilities related to mine warfare (MCM), hydrography, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the Navy said in the documents establishing the need for the expenditure.
The development of capabilities through unmanned surface vehicles or submarines is receiving a strong impetus through both EU and NATO programs and projects. The Navy is currently participating in these projects, although, for the moment, there are no vehicles with these characteristics to provide experience in their use,” it went on.
The Argentine Navy has participated in NATO maneuvers involving unmanned vehicles. In September last year, the Navy evaluated the Sparus, a UUV from the Catalan company Iqua Robotics with which Countermine Measures Force personnel are already familiar with, according to Argentine defense sources.
The contract is managed by the Economic Management Directorate of the Navy's Logistics Support Headquarters through an open bidding procedure with a Jan. 27 deadline. The opening of the proposals submitted is scheduled for Feb. 7.
The Argentine Navy is also focused on updating its submarine fleet. Defense Minister Jorge Taiana recalled recently that it was no secret that the Navy's Submarine Force Command has no operational units following the sinking of the ARA San Juan, in addition to the neverending repairs to her sister ship the ARA Santa Cruz. On top of that, the ARA Salta of the Type 209 class is no longer seaworthy and is being used for training.
During 2022, visits were made to the facilities of the French shipyard Naval Group and the German shipyard ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The French proposal would be based on the Scorpene class submarines; while the German one could be based on new Type 209 or Type 214 class submarines (a version of the Type 212 units operated by Germany and Italy).
Hence, a pre-contract with one of these suppliers is to be signed shortly, defense sources reported. The Argentine Navy is also negotiating with its Brazilian counterpart the transfer of some of the Tupi Class submarines slated for decommissioning with the arrival of the new Scorpene-Class units. In the meantime, Argentine Navy officers are doing their hands-on training in units of the Peruvian Navy following an agreement with that country.
The Argentine Navy is also about to start later this month the repair works on the logistics ship ARA Patagonia (B-1) at the Puerto Belgrano base.
The Durance Class Patagonia was commissioned on July 9, 2000, after serving with the French Navy between 1976 and 1999 to replace the decommissioned ARA Punta Médanos and is known for its refueling at sea (RAS) capabilities. With an operational range of up to 6,000 nautical miles, the ARA Patagonia is a frequent feature during the Antarctic Summer Campaigns.