In Comments for http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/7-problems-with-japanese-option.html, August 21, 2015 2:54 PM, "HK" discussed the French (DCNS) entrant for Australia Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process (CEP)):
"Contrary to popular opinion, my assessment is that Shortfin Barracuda may only require fairly minimal changes from the [Barracuda SSN]:
1) Essentially half the hull modules would be unchanged. This includes the SSN's entire forward section, up to right behind the sail.
2) Behind the sail is the standalone nuclear reactor module. This module is of similar length (~8m) to the equally standalone fuel cell module. They can be switched, much like inserting MESMA before. The fuel cell module will also have space for fuel and ballast tanks.
3) Which leaves the rear propulsion module, where most of the changes will happen. The good news is that scaling-up Scorpene's diesel-electric propulsion should be straightforward. Diesels are a lot more compact than the nukes' steam/electric turbines + generators, so there is plenty of space in Barracuda for 3 diesels side-by-side, with batteries/fuel tanks below deck.
I have checked versus Scorpene's detailed plans to confirm (these plans are available online... but hush that's a secret!).
So all in all, the biggest challenge with Shortfin Barracuda is not going to be the conventional propulsion. The real potential show-stopper is the U.S.'s willingness to allow the integration of a US combat system [see AN/BYG-1] and weapons [within the Shortfin], and to a lesser degree questions about whether the fuel cell technology is ready for prime time (but the [Australian Navy] may not even have a requirement yet)."
It is nice to hear from the French side. What immediately worries is that while Australia has an admittedly vague requirement for a 4,000 ton submarine the Shortfin Barracuda may be over-weight with a surfaced displacement of "4,765" tons (see right sidebar) and a submerged displacement of 5,300 tons. Presumably to maintain "minimal changes" the Shortfin Barracuda will need to retain the displacement figures of the SSN.
With a heavier displacement than its 4,000 ton competitors the Shortfin Barracuda may suffer from higher up-front costs, higher diesel fuel usage and higher maintenance-spares costs.
Also the Shortfin's buoyancy dynamics will be very different from the SSN due to the need to place diesel oil in several (many?) fuel tanks around Shortfin - then the need to backfill them with seawater.
Yes having an American, Donald C. Winter, as the most senior member of the Submarine Advisory Panel not to mention, hidden negotiations, may well work against DCNS. Fuel cell AIP may well become a requirement when/if Australia recognises the need to have a backup for the new technology risks of Li-ion Batteries (batteries presumably in all three contenders' bids).
However the Shortfin's higher displacement may accommodate much large fuel capacity than the Japanese and German competitors. This might translate to longer range (18,000 nm?) or the same range (11,000 nm?) at higher snorting speeds than the competitors. Of course Australia will need to decide whether higher cost is worth the speed-range advantages. There are also many comparative factors that are important, including stealth, crew size and common maintenance facilities. Notably Malaysia in Australia's region operates DCNS Scorpenes and India will soon. Japan operates Soryus. Indonesia and South Korea operates German designs and Singapore will operate larger than usual Type 218SGs in the 2020s.
The photos above and below may be the only photos of the Barracuda SSN (also called Suffren (first of) class in existence. It shows the submarine(s) under construction at the DCNS shipyard in Cherbourg, France. This may be for French national security and/or commercial security reasons. The photos may be of the Suffren and/or the Duguay-Trouin (second of class)) under construction - perhaps taken earlier than February 2015. Photo appeared in the February 2015 article http://corlobe.tk/spip.php?article37145 for Xavier Vavasseur of Navy Recognition’s interview with the Barracuda Program Manager.
If this is the actual and final shape of the Barracuda (Suffren class) it has much in common with the hull shape of the US Virginia class SSN. (Artist's impression courtesy Navy Recognition http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2399)
Here is a youtube animation of the "SMX Ocean" now the Shortfin Barracuda proposal, showing some future capabilities.