The ship class will consist of two ASWF for the Belgian Navy (Marinecomponent/Composante marine) and two ASWF for the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine). The future frigates’ main task will be anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The frigates will be equipped to cope with future threat environments. So-called information warfare will play a prominent role in this. It will include of cyber warfare and intelligence.
The names of the four ships are not yet known. The future frigates will be replacing HNLMS Van Amstel and HNLMS Van Speijk in the RNLN and Leopold I and the Louise-Marie in the Belgian Navy.
The new ships will benefit from the latest technologies in the field of ASW, and a robust self-defense against overwater threats. There is also extensive automation to enable operations with a limited basic crew. Discussions on the specifications of the systems that Dutch shipbuilder Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding and Defense electronics company Thales will supply are in full swing.
In 2018, the A letter with the requirements statement went to the Dutch House of Representatives. The B letter on the study phase was delivered in 2020. Meanwhile, there is formal permission to proceed with the acquisition preparation (the D phase). The Netherlands, in close consultation with Belgium, is in charge of the replacement process. The Dutch Defence Materiel Organization (DMO) is realizing the acquisition with the Royal Netherlands Navy, Belgian Navy and Belgian Direction Générale Material Resources (DGMR). By 2030, the 4 ASW frigates should be delivered to both navies.
About ASWF – Anti-Submarine Warfare Frigate
The Future Surface Combatant is a project of the Royal Netherlands Navy and Belgian Navy to replace the ageing Multipurpose- or M-frigates (Karel Doorman-class). The future frigates will be replacing HNLMS Van Amstel and HNLMS Van Speijk in the Dutch Navy and Leopold I and the Louise-Marie in the Belgian Navy.
The Dutch MoD started design studies for the M-frigates replacement in 2013. The new frigates are set to fulfill a general purpose role with ASW as its specialty. However, given the limited number of frigates in the Royal Netherlands Navy (six) and Belgian (two) fleets, the Future Surface Combatant are required to excel in all area (air defense, anti surface warfare…). While the Belgian Navy is in charge of the MCM replacement program for both navies, likewise the Dutch Navy is in charge of the M-Frigates replacement program for both the Netherlands and Belgium.
M-Frigate Replacement Specifications
- Displacement: Approx. 6.000 tonnes
- Length: 146 meters
- Speed: +30
- Complement: 120
ASWF Weapon systems
The future frigate will receive RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 anti-aircraft missiles and a successor of the Goalkeeper close-in weapon system. These new weapon systems are complemented by heavy-duty remotely operated machine guns (RWS) and light machine guns for use against small surface threats. To combat larger surface targets, the Dutch Ministry of Defense is purchasing a successor to the Harpoon anti-ship missile.
The main submarine weapon system is a new torpedo purchased through the “Replacement Mk46 Lightweight Torpedo” project. For defending against enemy torpedoes, the frigates will be fitted with a system capable of deceiving enemy torpedoes. In the future, a so-called hardkill system, an « anti-torpedo system », is yet to be developed. The frigate has room for a 110-strong crew, but 40 extra beds and various rooms are available for mission-specific personnel and their equipment.
AWWS by Thales
The future frigate will be fitted with the new Above Water Warfare System (AWWS) suite by Thales. will consist of a new generation of sensors, coupled with intelligent software that continuously calculates which actions are best suited to tackle each threat detected by radar and other sensors in the right manner. This maximizes the chance of survival, while the crew stays in control.
This system uses the latest sensor technology from Thales to detect and monitor all above-water threats, including the next-generation, fully digital dual-band X/S radar suite: an integral combination of Active Phased Array Radar (APAR) and Sea Master 400 radar technologies.