The project aims to give the coastal rangers – described as the eyes and ears of the Norwegian Navy – a number of new sensors and sensor platforms, a key capability of which will be a new vessel for which the RFI was recently released.
The vessel will have a top speed of 45 knots and a cruising speed of 40 knots. This, coupled with shallow draught, good maneuverability, and the ability to stop and accelerate quickly, does point towards a waterjet design, in line with the CB 90 currently in use. At “under 24 meters” the vessel is larger than the CB 90, able to hold a crew of six as well as a platoon of coastal rangers and their equipment, or a sub-150 kg UAS.
This is to take-off and land from the deck of the vessel day or night, year-round, in Arctic conditions. Equipped with both electro-optical sensors, a synthetic aperture radar, and radio frequency sensors, the UAS will be a key tool for the vessel. This will include allowing for controlling network enabled weapons, such as NSM anti-ship missiles. Each system will have two to three unmanned aerial vehicles, allowing for persistent surveillance, and also be able to operate from other naval vessels as well as vehicles. In addition to the UAS, the vessel will also be equipped with integrated sensors, possibly including an elevated mast and/or a wired UAS. A remote-weapon station capable of targeting both surface as well as slow-flying air targets (helicopters and UAS) is also to be a possibility.
To ensure that the sensor capabilities are employed to their full capability, the processing of the sensor data to intelligence products is done on the vessel and fed to the Norwegian Defence secure computer network, and a range of open and secure communications systems are available to both the vessel and the UAS.
The vessel is to be able to operate for up to a week at sea. In the transport role, a range of 600 NM is envisioned, as is the ability to easily convert it mid-mission from the troop transport role to a functional emergency room in the medical evacuation role. When conducting beach landings or transport missions including medical evacuations, the vessel is to be able to operate without the need of quays or other onshore facilities.
All in all the vessel represent an ambitious program, which will challenge any yard to be able to meet the performance and C4ISTAR-capabilities required in a hull which – while larger than the CB90 – still is very much compact. The plan is for the procurement to take place in 2026 to 2028, and would represent a significant step up in the Norwegian Navy’s ability to operate with a distributed network of sensors and shooters.