In recent years, news of new acquisitions for the Polish Armed Forces has been recurrent. Many of these feature South Korean companies, which have found in the European country a strategic partner to boost their expansion plans. However, while the Polish Air Force and Army are being equipped with new tanks, howitzers, and combat aircraft of South Korean origin, the same situation is not being seen in the naval sphere. Thus, considering the significant requirements of the Polish Navy, Hanwha Defense seeks to position itself as a serious option to equip this force with its new KSS-III Bach II ballistic missile submarines.

As of today, similar to the Army and Air Force, the Polish Navy is executing various programs to modernize its primary surface assets. This is evident in the Frigate Miecznik construction program, which aims to replace the old Oliver Hazard Perry class ships. However, another focus of attention for the naval authorities of the European country is the necessary acquisition and reconstitution of the Submarine Fleet, which currently consists of a single problematic unit, the ORP Orzeł.

Following the decommissioning of the four Kobben-class submarines, which had belonged to the Norwegian Navy, the Polish Navy’s Submarine Squadron has only the ORP Orzeł. Built at the Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard in Gorki (now Nizhny Novgorod), it entered service in April 1986. Despite plans for modernization of the Orzel, such as the Orka submarine program in 2018, which included the SUBTICS combat system to replace the MWU-110EM Murena, as well as periscope replacement, new sonar system, and capability for launching F-21 torpedoes, the modernization was canceled.

With these precedents, and taking advantage of the framework provided by Industry Day, celebrated on May 21st, Hanwha Defense publicly announced its intention to present a proposal and plans to renew the submarine arm of the Polish Navy by providing the modern KSS-III Bach II ballistic missile submarines, currently being constructed for the Republic of Korea Navy.

The KSS-III Bach I and Bach II represent the culmination of a naval construction program driven by South Korea that has been ongoing for three decades, encompassed in three major phases: KSS-I with the purchase and construction of Type 209-class submarines; KSS-II with the construction of units based on Type 214; and KSS-III with the design and local construction of a new class of attack submarines equipped with ballistic missiles, known as the Dosan Ahn Changho class.

Hanwha Defense’s and its associated shipyards’ bet is on providing the Polish Navy with the most modern KSS-III, of which the first unit is being constructed for the Republic of Korea Navy. Recognizing the urgency of acquiring this capability, the South Korean company has not offered options for local construction in its proposal, as it would delay the incorporation of new submarines by years, but instead offers options for maintenance, sustainment, and modernization in Polish shipyards with the necessary transfer of knowledge and technologies associated with the program.

Regarding the characteristics of the KSS-II, these submarines have seen an increased displacement (3,600 tons) and a length of 89 meters, allowing for the presence of additional vertical missile launch systems. For comparison, the Bach I has six VLS, while the Bach II has ten. In terms of propulsion, it is equipped with AIP systems using lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, it incorporates a high degree of process automation, in order to be operated by a crew of 33 personnel, which can be expanded to 55 if necessary.

*Photographs used for illustrative purposes only.

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