HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën is the lead ship of her class (also known as LCF for Air Defense and Command Frigate). All four ships of the class will be upgraded with the new radar (and other systems) as part of the modernization programme.
According to Thales, the SMART-L MM is a next generation Long Range Multi Mission Radar for Air and Space Surveillance and Ballistic Missile Detection. The fully digitally controlled Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) type of radar, applying GaN transmitter and Dual Axis Multibeam receiver technology, is capable of detecting a very wide variety of air and space objects including stealth, short up to long range ballistic missiles and space objects. The SMART-L MM is capable of surveillance and tracking of Ballistic Missiles up to 2000 km while simultaneous maintaining the Air Defence capability. Aboard the LCF vessels, the MM variant replaces the existing SMART-L radars.
With the SMART-L MM, Thales is also considering export prospects such as the German Navy’s three Sachsen-class air-defence frigates (F 124) for which a requirement for new BMD capable radars as been issues, as well as further down the road, the upgrade of the French Navy’s two Horizon class air-defence destroyers.
Regarding the LCF, the mordernization effort includes other systems: Plans were announced in 2018 to acquire the BMD-capable SM-3 surface-to-air missiles (these plans still need to be confirmed). De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates can pass on the tracking and detection data to other sea-based or land-defense BMD assets, including U.S. Navy’s warships, that can deal with a ballistic missile threat.
On 3 May 2018 the Dutch Secretary of Defence, Barbara Visser, informed the Dutch national parliament that the Raytheon evolved sea sparrow missile (ESSM) aboard the De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates will be upgraded from block 1 to block 2. This upgrade will be completed by 2024 along with a new anti-ship missile (to replace the existing Harpoon). Last but not least, the existing 127mm Oto Melara (Leonardo) main guns will be replaced as those are over 50 years old and were acquired second hand from the Canadian Navy. On March 20th, a contract notice for the supply of 127mm guns was issued on the European tender platform TED. The programme named “Frigates 127 mm gun replacement program” has a estimated value between 50 and 200 million Euros. Both Leonardo and BAE Systems are expected to bid with their respective gun systems, along with their smart, guided ammunition.