Confirmation of their selection by Spain initially surfaced in an interview about Leonardo’s recent selection by the Dutch MoD for a frigate upgrade program. Naval News then asked for some more details on the Spanish contract award. Here is what the Italian company told us:
Leonardo 127mm LW Vulcano gun has been selected by Spanish Navy for F110 frigates and the related order has been placed from Navantia to Leonardo at the end of 2019. Navantia that is Leonardo (formerly OTO Melara) partner since long time will be also involved in the manufacture and in the services of the gun. The delivery schedule of the guns will be in line with the ship production plan. The AAHS option is still under definition at the moment. As we are at the beginning of the program the supply of ammunition has not yet been discussed.
The above confirms that Spain was the third European country to adopt the 127/64 LW Vulcano gun after Italy (on board of FREMM and PPA frigates) and Germany (F125 class frigates). The Netherlands has recently ordered it in April 2020 for the upgrade of the four De Zeven Provinciën-class LCF frigates.
Rumors of Leonardo’s selection for the F-110 frigate program started to surface in early 2019. During the IDEX / NAVDEX defense show, Navantia was showcasing an updated F-110 scale model showing the frigate fitted with the Italian naval gun system (as opposed to BAE System’s Mk 45 5 Inch gun on previous models and CGI). However no one (Navantia, Leonardo, Spanish Navy) could confirm this officially throughout 2019… The selection of Leonardo surprised a few defense observers, given that the existing Álvaro de Bazán-class frigates (F-100 type) are fitted with BAE Systems main guns.
About Leonardo’s 127mm 127/64 LW – Vulcano
According to Leonardo (formerly Oto Melara), the 127/64 LW – VULCANO is a state of art medium caliber gun suitable for installation on large and medium size ships and intended for surface fire and naval gunfire support as main role and anti-aircraft fire as secondary role. The compactness of the gun feeding system makes possible the installation on narrow section crafts.
The Automatic Ammunition Handling System is a modular solution adaptable to any ship ammunition magazine layout; it is able to load the feeding magazine of the gun without man assistance during operation to allow a sustained firing action of the gun. The system is able to handle both standard 127mm /5-inches ammunition and new VULCANO family of ammunition
The 127mm VULCANO ammunition family, is composed by Ballistic Extended Range (BER) and Guided Long Range (GLR) ammunition with different multifunctional fuses, sensor and final guidance that extend the range of the gun up to 100km.
The rate of fire of the gun is more than 30 rds/m and the gun may store 56 ready to fire rounds in 4 drums that can be installed according to ship design in any Deck granting high flexibility to match any installation constraints. The gun is fully digital and equipped with Built-In Test Equipment that assist the operators at any moments. It is able to provide support to CMS in calculating possible firing solution for mission planning and it is equipped with a ballistic computer.
About F-110 Bonifaz-class Frigates of the Spanish Navy
Navantia and the Spanish Ministry of Defense have signed the contract for the construction of five F-110 frigates for the Spanish Navy in April 2019.
F-110 frigates are set to replace the Spanish Navy’s Santa Maria-class frigates which have been in service for over 30 years. F-110 frigates will be fitted with the Aegis combat system integrating a new solid-state S-band radar by Indra. Lockheed Martin and Indra have been collaborating since 2009 to develop a state-of-the-art S-band solid state radar for Spain’s F-110 Frigate Program.
The first ship of the new class is expected to be delivered in 2025 and the final one in 2030.
Known as the Bonifaz-class, these frigates will feature:
- A sonar suite by Thales (BlueMaster UMS 4110 and CAPTAS 4 Compact sonars, the TUUM-6 underwater communication system, and the BlueScan digital acoustic system)
- The SCOMBA combat system by Navantia
- The S-band variant of Lockheed Martin’s SPY-7 radar
- Leonardo 127mm 127/64 LW main gun
- Raytheon’s Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 missile
Indra systems aboard F-110
Indra leads the development within the F110 Program of some of several advanced sensors. In addition to the tiles for the S-band radar, Indra is developing:
- The 25X Prisma Radar: whose mission is surveillance of the surface and low-altitude aerial targets.
- The IFF System: which will identify allied from enemy aircraft and will have an integrated ADS-B surveillance system that will give support to air control in international missions.
- Electronic defence systems: which will track the communications band and the radar band. They will detect and identify any vessel, submarine or nearby aerial or land platform, allowing the ship to circumvent multiple threats simultaneously
- IRST i110: which will provide protection capacity against sea-skimming missiles or swarms of vessels, which typically attempt to impact the waterline of ships. It is a system on which Indra is working in conjunction with Tecnobit.
Displacement: 6100 tons
Length 145 m
Width 18 m
Draft 5 m
Speed 35 knots
Crew 150 sailors
Aviation facilities: Hangar + helideck for 2 NH-90 NFH/TTH or 2 SH-60 or UAV