Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH
Parent System: Stirling
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 1996
Total Production: 6
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Description: The Stirling Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) has been developed to power modern and legacy diesel-electric submarines. The AIP-Stirling provides enhancements to the operational efficiency of conventionally-powered submarines. A conventional submarine powered by AIP-Stirling can remain submerged for several weeks minimizing the risk of detection and increasing its stealth characteristics.
In the late 1980s, Kockums fitted a Stirling engine in a Swedish submarine named Nacken. The eight meters long section containing the Stirling engine was inserted into the submarine's hull. After years of demonstration and tests at seat the Stirling AIP was cleared for use on the newest Gotland-class submarines ordered by the Swedish Navy.
Stirling-AIP works burning pure oxygen and diesel fuel in a pressurized combustion chamber. The combustion pressure is higher than the surrounding seawater pressure, thereby allowing the exhaust products to, dissolved in seawater, to be discharged overboard without using a compressor. This procedure allows low infrared signature and noise emission levels. The submerged endurance is determined by the amount of liquid oxygen stored inside the cryogenic tanks associated to the Stirling propulsion system.
The Swedish Navy intends to provide the Stirling AIP propulsion to the whole submarine fleet by 2004. Sodermanland-class (formerly Vastergotland) submarines are being equipped with the AIP propulsion system by the insertion of a new section containing two Stirling units, liquid oxygen tanks and electrical equipment. Sweden also hopes to install the Sterling AIP in existing submarines when undergoing modernization programs.
On 11 July 2005, Kockums announced a breakthrough with the first export order for Stirling AIP coming from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) for its submarine fleet. Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) committed to assemble the Stirling AIP engine components, which are supplied by Kockums, in Japan and deliver them to the shipyards. It was not disclosed whether the Stirling AIP will power the Oyashi-class boats under construction in Japan or a new class of submarines still under development.
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