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Saab Global

Saab is committed to Australia

7 min read

Saab is committed to Australia, the development of its defence capability and the protection of our nation.  Saab was established in Australia to ensure successful transfer of technology and ongoing sovereign support for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

For over thirty years, we have successfully delivered innovative, trusted and proven capability to the ADF and we continue to be exemplar, leading the way in technology transfer to support the growth and sustainability of Australian defence capability.

A proven history of technology transfer

Sovereign capability allows the rapid modification, update and customisation of every aspect of advanced technology to meet the Australian Defence doctrine, needs and preferences. This allows Australia to act in the best interest of its people, country and assets.

As a leading defence company, Saab designs, develops and delivers high technology solutions in Australia and leverages its global expertise and knowledge, to further enhance in-country capability, driving the growth of our sovereign defence industry and supply chain.

True sovereign capability strengthens the protection of our nation and reduces our reliance on Foreign Military Sales cases, with long lead times and costs for customisation.

Saab has been contributing to the growth of Australian defence capability since its establishment over 30 years ago, beginning with the design and build of Australia’s Collins class submarines.


Australia's Collins class submarine designer

Whilst Australia was considering the requirements for the replacement of the Oberon class of submarines in the 1970’s, Sweden had already started bringing together their experience and knowledge of Australia’s Oberon operations to create a submarine design which would meet the anticipated Australian requirements. A design with an emphasis on long range, endurance and high automation.

Traditionally, Swedish submarines were based on evolutionary design principles - submarine classes were an evolution of the previous class, rather than a completely new design. From the 1970’s an innovative new design and build approach was also adopted, moving away from traditional shipbuilding techniques and leveraging modular design principles for the design and build of submarines. Prolongation of this shift in approach, has advanced Saab’s evolutionary design model into a revolutionary design model – placing Saab at the forefront of submarine build and design globally.

Saab designed Australia’s Collins Class submarines and transferred its technology and expertise to Australia, to ensure the Royal Australian Navy received the most modern and capable diesel submarine of its time.

Employing evolutionary and modular design principles, Australia’s Collins class was based on the Swedish Västergötland – a submarine class which entered Swedish naval service in 1986. The Västergötland design was enlarged and redesigned to not only meet Australian endurance and range requirements, but specific Australian operational requirements, which included the environment (blue ocean, temperature), weapons and inclusion of a combat management system.

The Västergötland also provided a strong foundation for the level of automation required on Australia’s Collins class. Prior to the Västergötland class, submarine automation was very limited. The Västergötland employed a drastic improvement in automation across the submarine, processes that were traditionally manual, were now automated and electronic. The combat system was also drastically improved, with increased operator information and feedback, as well as the capability to run multiple weapons at the same time.

Finalising the design fundamentals before the build contract was signed in 1987, Kockums worked closely with the Commonwealth and its Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) partners throughout the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to ensure technology and expertise transfer to Australia, underpinning the success of the Collins design and build, and its commissioning into Royal Australian Navy (RAN) service.

In the 1980’s, during the design process, a number of Australian engineers and designers joined ASC and were sent to Sweden to work with the Saab submarine design team, learn skills and equip them for management roles during the detailed design and construction phases. This also included an Australian Navy team of about 20 people, to supervise the design work, clarify Navy requirements and liaise with the project office in Canberra.

To help in achieving 70 per cent Australian content across the Collins class design and build program, Saab set up a design office in Adelaide and the active design process continued between Australia and Sweden, even as the construction of the first submarines began. As the build progressed, the responsibility for finalising the design was progressively transferred to Adelaide, where an increasing amount of the work was done by Australians.

Saab has a proven history of submarine through-life commitment, supporting design, build, sustainment and upgrade alongside its customers and end users, from ‘cradle to grave’. Leveraging 100 years of submarine experience, Saab’s proven global submarine design and trusted local expertise, stand ready to support the success of Australia’s Collins class life of type extension – delivering capability now to secure Australia’s future.

HMAS Perth ASMD Ops Room
Saab’s tech transfer enabled the birth of the Australian Combat Management System

In the 1990’s, the RAN selected the Saab 9LV combat management system (CMS) for its new Anzac class frigates. This marked the beginning of a strong and historic journey where Saab transferred not only its advanced system technology into Australia, but also its future development, which continues today.

The combat management system (CMS), is a computer system connecting a naval ship's sensors, weapons, data links, support measures and other equipment to the crew performing the tasks in combat to enable capable surface warfare.

Saab’s 9LV CMS was originally developed in Sweden in the 1960s. Following its selection for Australia’s Anzac class frigates, Saab progressively transitioned combat system development work, including all local customisation work, and the skills and capacity for future work, to Australia. For over 32 years, Saab has worked closely with the RAN to develop, upgrade and enhance the 9LV combat management system to meet Australian operational needs. The system now equips four of the RAN’s classes of vessels, it has been selected for two future vessels, and is also being leveraged for the development of the Australian interface to the Aegis system for the Hunter class frigates and Hobart class destroyers.

Saab developed a high degree of skill and competence in the integration of advanced weapons and sensors in its combat management system, as a result of Australian defence requirements. This has led to advanced capability within Australia, and successful export activities in frigate upgrades across the globe.

Saab’s enduring role in the successful design and delivery of the Collins class fleet and Australian combat management system are proof of the success of the Saab technology and knowledge transfer philosophy and our commitment to Australia.

Technology transfer enabling capability across defence

With successful technology and knowledge transfer of Saab’s 9LV CMS, and the design of the Collins class submarines, Saab continues to build on our experience and proven expertise to deliver a broader range of programs and Australian based capability.

Saab was selected in 2020 as the Prime contractor to deliver Australia’s deployable health program (JP2060 Phase 3) for the delivery of life saving deployable military and humanitarian hospitals for the ADF domestically and internationally. The program will see the relocation of Saab’s global deployable health capability from Europe to Australia including the transfer of knowledge, skills and IP. Well underway, this is creating further sovereign capability, new opportunities for local industry supply chain, additional jobs and future export opportunities.

Saab has been a leading provider of deployable healthcare solutions for over 30 years, and has delivered deployable health capability to military and humanitarian assistance agencies across the globe

Supporting the growth of sovereign defence industry

With nearly 600 Australian employees across the nation and a dynamic growth profile, Saab continues to build a large and capable defence business that has successfully diversified into new markets, such as infrastructure security and cyber security.

To support its delivery of capability to Australian defence, Saab is partnered with a large range of Australian businesses and remains committed to supporting the development of Australian industry capability (AIC) and expanding on the more than 300 local companies that are already engaged in our defence supply chain.

These strategic partnerships with industry are a critical part of Saab’s ongoing commitment to partnering with leading Australian SMEs to deliver superior outcomes for Australian defence.

A robust supply chain is vital in delivering enduring sovereign capability, quality local production and resilience in the defence of our national interests.

Saab’s commitment to maximising the participation of Australian industry can be seen across the delivery of its defence programs for the Navy, Army and Air Force and across the region.

Since being selected for Australia’s JP2060 Phase 3 program – on which Saab is working with over 70 Australian SMEs – Saab has signed two subsequent partnerships with its capability partner, Global Defence Solutions (GDS), for the delivery of Australian capability.

Saab signed an MOU with GDS earlier this year to pave the way for future work together advancing complementary capabilities in deployable force infrastructure. More recently Saab selected GDS as its in-country manufacturing partner of its combat proven Mobile Camouflage Systems and multispectral camouflage systems. This partnership will see further growth of Australian industry capability, with technology transfer brining additional expertise and knowledge into Australian Defence.

Depending on Saab for trusted and proven defence capability

Saab continues to provide sustained innovation and advanced technology to support the capability of the Australian Defence Force.

For over three decades we’ve had a profound impact on Australia’s defence capability. Most notably we’ve provided the RAN with its own world-class naval CMS – the backbone of Australia’s defence independence.

As a sovereign defence industry capability and trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force – Saab continues to grow and create jobs for Australians, develop sovereign industrial capability and deliver advanced technology and systems to ensure the capability of Australian defence.

Saab’s CMS will be equipped on six of the RAN’s classes of vessels; Anzac, Canberra, Supply, Arafura, Mine Countermeasures and Military Survey Vessels. Saab is also leveraging our ‘Next Generation’ combat management system experience in the development of the Australian interface to the Aegis system, for the Hunter class frigates and the Hobart class destroyers.

Saab is a key partner in the delivery of Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding capability and continues to support the Government to ensure our Defence Force is fully equipped to protect Australia from current and future threats.

Having designed, built and integrated the Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System (ISCMMS) for the Collins class submarine during its build – Saab has been a consistent and critical partner supporting the ongoing capability of the Collins class fleet to this day.

The ISCMMS has remained one of the most reliable systems throughout the life of the Collins fleet and was recognised in 2013, by Rear Admiral Rowan Moffitt, former Head of the Australian Future Submarine Program, as a ‘spectacular success’.

Saab is Australian, committed to Australia and dedicated to the development and protection of our nation.