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Future Surface Combatant (Koninklijke Marine)
Class overview
Operators:
Preceded by:
  • Karel Doorman-class frigate
  • Cost: 1.5-2.50 billion
    Built: 2020–2030s
    Planned: 4
    General characteristics
    Displacement: 5.500 tonnes
    Length: 133
    Complement: up to 110 (plus space for additional 40)
    Armament:
    • 76mm gun
    • RIM-162 ESSM (quad-packs per cell) surface-to-air missiles
    • Torpedo system
    • softkill anti-torpedo system, possibly hardkill anti-torpedo torpedo
    • LRASM
    • CIWS
    • Several medium and light machine guns
    Aircraft carried:
  • 1 × NH90 helicopter
  • 1 x UAV
  • The Future Surface Combatant is a project of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN, Dutch: Koninklijke Marine) and Belgian Navy to replace the existing Multipurpose- or M-frigates.[1] The project shows similarities to the British Global Combat Ship (also formerly named FSC program) but development is fully separate.

    Context

    The current M-frigates, originally all built in the Netherlands but apart from two units sold to Belgium, Portugal, and Chile are reaching their planned retirement age around 2020. However, due to extensive budget cuts over the past decades and other large materiel programs such as the acquisition of the F-35 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Dutch Ministry of Defense currently has not enough funds available to start building the ships.[2] Therefore, lifespan of the current vessels has been extended until 2025. Keeping the ships any longer will cause problems with NATO and related tasks because the ships weapons suite is outdated and not up to current standards. For example: the M-frigates only carry 16 surface-to-air missiles in the form of the outdated NATO Sea Sparrow (RIM-7). Onboard recent ships the Evolved Sea Sparrow (Block 2 in development) does the job, but those do not fit in the also outdated Mk48 VLS cells on board the M-frigates. Apart from these, M-frigates only have a single Goalkeeper system for CIWS. Offensive, capabilities are limited to obsolete RGM-84 Harpoon missiles. The 76mm cannon is not fit for modern semi-guided munitions like DART, Davide/STRALES, or VULCANO.[3]

    Additionally; the RNLN searched for European partners to build the ships with and cut costs, and in January 2017 reached an agreement with the Belgian Marine Component to build a total of four ships together.[4] This number could be adjusted later on during next phases of the acquisition process. With a total of four and two for the RNLN the current two M-frigates are to be replaced by an equal number. There are concerns about whether that number is enough to meet current and near future challenges, since it often happens the RNLN has no ships available to only fulfill the most basic of its duties (like supporting foreign navy ships along the Dutch coast).[5] The costs for the 4 ships are currently estimated at 1.50-2.50 billion euro's for the two Dutch frigates and 1 billion euro's for the two Belgian frigates.[1] Originally it had been hoped that the first frigate would be delivered to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 2024, while the first frigate for the Belgian Navy was to be delivered in 2027.[6] However, as of 2020, the in-service date for the two Dutch frigates had slipped to 2028–29 with the Belgian frigates following immediately thereafter.[7]

    Specifications

    In June 2020, the Dutch Ministry of Defence send a letter to parliament, which included information about the specifications and capacities of the new frigates [8]

    Crew: up to 110 (with space for an additional 40)

    Weapon Systems:

    Helicopter: 1 NH90 NFH

    Other equipment: Integrated Hull Sonar, Towed Sonar Array, 2 RHIB with MAG guns, Drone Launch Pad

    References

    Bibliography

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