Nuclear-powered subs to dictate naval engine trends in next decade, report shows

As part of the naval modernization initiatives, the acquisition of next-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) and nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN) by major military powers is anticipated to be the key factor driving the global naval engines market during 2021-2031, new Global Data report shows.

As part of the naval modernization initiatives, major naval forces including the US, Russia, China, France, India and UK  are focusing their attention on the next-generation nuclear-powered submarines.

Additionally, several other emerging militaries such as India, Brazil, and recently Australia have also announced multiple programs for the development and induction of new nuclear-powered submarines.

Recently, the Australian government unveiled its plans to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines under a new Indo-Pacific security partnership with the United States and Britain, AUKUS.

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These new initiatives are to enhance the country’s strategic deterrence capabilities significantly and replace the ageing cold war era platforms with new surface vessels and submarines, according to GlobalData.

“Albeit the lesser overall number of nuclear reactors for naval vessels and submarines, the highly complex nature of the technology and manufacturing processes ensure that they continue to be the most highly-priced type of naval engines,” Tushar M, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, commented.

Diesel engines are expected to be the largest segment from 2021 to 2031 owing to their higher adoption across surface vessels and submarines. Nuclear reactor and air-independent propulsion (AIP) segments follow with a cumulative share of 47% over the next ten years.

Tushar also emphasized that the countries that do not possess nuclear propulsion technology are focusing on acquiring AIP-equipped diesel AIP Submarines (SSP), resulting in AIP emerging as the fastest-growing segment over the forecast period.

Furthermore, Europe is estimated to be the largest market for AIP systems, followed by the Asia-Pacific region. These two regions will cumulatively account for approximately 90% of the AIP market from 2021 to 2031, the Global Data analyst highlighted.

“Even though modernization of naval fleets drives the naval engines market across geographies, the presence of key naval engine manufacturers and the associated ecosystems are vital factors driving the European naval engines market over the forecast period.”

“With their focus on developing and supporting their local ship building industry, China and India will assist the overall growth market, especially with recent advancements made in the indigenous design and construction of naval platforms as varied as aircraft carriers to nuclear submarines,” Tushar concludes.

Photo: Illustration; Royal Australian Navy Collins-class submarines. Photo: Australian Department of Defense