Damen press release
The award concerns the MK41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) Direct Commercial Sale contract, which was signed on January 31, 2021. Jorge Ciappi, MK 41 VLS International Business Development Manager is delighted with the trust shown in Lockheed Martin by Damen as the contracting party and the BAAINBw having preselected Lockheed Martin for the scope. The Lockheed Martin scope of supply and services includes the production and delivery of two 8-cell strike length MK 41 VLS Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2 capable modules for each of four ships plus associated engineering efforts and ancillary hardware.
Both the German and Royal Netherlands Navy operate this system. Damen is familiar with the MK 41 VLS system operating on the Netherlands Air Defence and Command Frigate (ADCF) project and various other projects in the export domain. Moreover, the system has a rich 25+ year history with the German Navy, including projects such as the F123 Brandenburg Class and F124 Sachsen Class frigates.
“This contract is the next logical step for the game-changing project F126. Moreover, it is an excellent example for realizing financial, technical, and operative benefits through bi-national cooperation in Europe. Using Lockheed Martin’s MK 41-system on board of the new German frigates carries on a long and successful history of German and Royal Netherlands Navies operating this system for years.”
Hein van Ameijden, Managing Director of Damen Naval
Initially designed with the ability to fire anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, strike, and anti-submarine warfare missiles simultaneously, MK 41 VLS immediately solidified its place as the world’s premier surface-launching system. Its “Any Weapon/Any Cell” design allows an MK41 cell to fire any integrated missile providing maximum flexibility. With over 14,000 deployed VLS cells across more than 150 vessels, 4,500 operational and test firings, and an operational availability of greater than 99 percent, MK 41 VLS stands as a remarkable testament to the ingenuity. With this system, in combination with other systems and sensors onboard, the F126 has the ability to operate in the most complex maritime environments, and therefore contribute internationally to securing safety and stability.
Damen Naval is building the four F126 class frigates together with its partners Blohm+Voss and Thales. Damen Naval was selected as the successful bidder in 2020 following a European tender process spanning several years. The first ship is expected to be delivered to the German Navy in 2028. All building work will be carried out entirely in Germany at shipyards in Kiel, Hamburg and Wolgast.
The Fregatte Klasse 126 (Frigate class 126 or “F126”, previously known as project Multi-Purpose Combat Ship Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180 “MKS180” ) will be a multi-mission platform. Built-in modules designed for specific military missions will make this possible. These mission modules are at the heart of what “multipurpose combat ship” means in practice.
- Self-defense and combat missions
- Creation of a maritime picture above and under water
- Maritime surveillance and embargo control, including VBSS
- Military evacuation in crisis situations
- Escort for merchant ships
- Command of a naval task force
The first of four ships is scheduled for delivery in 2028. For the record, the German parliament (Bundestag) formally approved the procurement of four multi-purpose MKS 180 vessels in June 2020. In the contract, the Bundeswehr keeps an option open for the procurement of two additional ships. The same month, Damen Shipyards Group and the German Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) signed the contract for the construction of four MKS 180 frigates for the German Navy.
Thales will be providing the following systems:
- Tacticos combat management system
- Satcom system
- APAR Block 2 x-band multifunction radar for AWWS
- Gatekeeper 360° IR/TV system
- Mirador MK2 EO tracking and observation system
Other equipment (non-Thales) that will be fuzed with the Thales systems (Tacticos + AWWS):
- MK41 VLS for ESSM Block 2
- Naval Strike Missile (NSM)
- KORA C-ESM and R-ESM
- TRS-4D c-band air and surface surveillance radar
- RAM CIWS
- 127mm main gun with Vulcano extended range precision munition
The decoy launchers will likely be the MASS by Rheinmetall. MKS 180 will be fitted with a sonar suite as well, but the competition for this contract is still ongoing.
Thales’s Mission and Combat System includes the comprehensive Tacticos Combat Management System and the AWWS (Above Water Warfare System) Fire Control Cluster. The contract includes four ship systems, logistic services, and multiple land-based test and training sites, as well as the option for one or two additional ships.
F126 Main Characteristics
- Length: approximately 155 meters at waterline
- Displacement: maximum 9,000 tonnes
- Accommodation: 110 crew, 70 passengers
- Operating endurance: 24 months
- Operating area: worldwide
- Ice class: 1C / E1 for sea areas with ice formation
- Service life: 30 years