Submarine AIP Systems Market - Notable High Investments Toward Advanced Submarines | Technavio

Technavio market research analysts forecast the global submarine air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems market to grow at a CAGR of close to 14% during the forecast period, according to their latest report.

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Technavio has published a new report on the global submarine air-independent propulsion (AIP) system ...

Technavio has published a new report on the global submarine air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems market from 2017-2021. (Graphic: Business Wire)

The report further segments the global submarine air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems market by product (fuel cell submarine AIP systems, Stirling engine submarine AIP systems, and other submarine AIP systems) and by geography (the Americas, APAC, and EMEA).

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Technavio analysts highlight the following three market drivers that are contributing to the growth of the global submarine air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems market:

  • Enhancement in underwater endurance of non-nuclear submarines
  • Escalating investment toward advanced submarine development
  • Focus on development of low-cost non-nuclear submarines

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Enhancement in underwater endurance of non-nuclear submarines

While a non-nuclear submarine is submerged underwater, it uses the on-board batteries to power its propulsion systems and other on-board electrical systems. The average endurance of these batteries lasts for a week, after which the batteries need to be recharged by running its engines. To run the engines, the submarine requires contact with the surface atmosphere to intake fresh air and to vent out engine exhaust. This exposure makes the submarine vulnerable to enemy radars and susceptible to hostile anti-submarine assets. Even if the submarine uses radar-elusive shapes and coated with radar absorbing paint, these are prone to detection by high-resolution radars.

According to Moutushi Saha, a lead analyst at Technavio for defense research, “An AIP system helps a submarine to recharge its batteries without the need to contact surface atmosphere. Due to this, the submarine's snorkeling frequencies reduce and its underwater endurance increases. This, in turn, reduces the chances of the submarine being detected while snorkeling. Also, the AIP system allows a submarine to retain its extremely low noise signatures without compromising on its performance. Such benefits are the major factors for the implementation of submarine AIP systems by armed forces globally.”

Escalating investment toward advanced submarine development

The growing tension between different countries and disputed maritime borders is promoting the investments in the development of advanced submarines and other naval vessels. Many regions are increasing their focus on national maritime security and enhancing their maritime defense capabilities. Such efforts will increase the investments in the development and modernization of naval fleets, including submarines. The enhanced combat and stealth capabilities of undersea operations provide advanced submarines a higher tactical advantage over other naval platforms.

“The government of different countries is focusing their investments and technical skills in enhancing the endurance, range, and counter-detection capabilities of submarines. They are also empowering higher combat capabilities through the development of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The introduction of advanced propulsion systems, such as Kockums Stirling AIP systems will result in stealthier and more powerful submarines,” says Moutushi.

Focus on development of low-cost non-nuclear submarines

Before the advent of AIP systems, conventional diesel-electric submarines had limited range and endurance capabilities. Nuclear-powered submarines were the only option when more endurance and range were required. Building nuclear submarines requires large investments and their maintenance costs are also high. Naval forces with limited funding find it difficult to build and maintain such submarines. This restricts the undersea capabilities of such naval forces, thereby compromising their security against countries that can afford nuclear submarines.

The development of AIP systems has enabled diesel submarines to match the endurance and range capabilities of nuclear submarines. This has made AIP-equipped diesel submarines an attractive alternative for many countries that cannot afford nuclear submarines but require submarines with long-range and a larger weapon payload.

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