Shift of the replacement of the Deventer Zeven Provinciën Dutch air defensive frigates

Due to the consequences of the fluctuation in exchange rates between the dollar and the euro, the orders to be carried out for the acquisition program F-35A by Amsterdam generated additional costs. They force the launch of the program to replace program buildings to be delayed by five years. Luchtverdedigings- en CommandoFregat (LCF or Air Defense Frigates in French) of the Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine). It was to be launched in 2021 for admission to active service of the first of the new frigates in 2029.

The current air defense frigates of the class By Zeven Provinciën (LCF program) are the Zr.Ms. (Zijner Majesteits or Her Majesty) By Zeven Provinciën (2002), Zr.Ms. Tromp (2003), Zr.Ms. De Ruyter (2004) and Zr.Ms. Evertsen (2005). The air defense system (radars Active phased array radar (appear), S1850 SMART-L and associated systems) of these frigates was designed in partnership with Germany as part of the program Luchtverdedigings- en CommandoFregat (LCF) from which the frigates were developed F124 for the Deutsche Marine.

These 144,24 meter long vessels, with a fully loaded displacement of 6050 tonnes, with a range of 4000 nautical miles at 18 knots, can travel at up to 30 knots.

They have a main OTO-Melara 127 mm/54 artillery piece and a vertical launch system composed of five American octuple launchers Mk 41. They silo 32 anti-aircraft missiles RIM-66 Standard Missile-2 IIIA MR (SM-2 IIIA MR) of approximately 75 km range in four of the five launchers. Plus 32 anti-aircraft missiles RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), approximately 50 km range, with four missiles per silo (“ quad-pack« ) in the fifth pitcher.

De Zeven Provincien tir SM 2 IIIA 1 Defense Analyzes | Armed Forces Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military naval constructions
The Zr.Ms. By Zeven Provinciën conducts training firing of a pair of anti-aircraft missiles RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) against a Meggitt BTT-3 drone Banshee serving as a target. The ability to be able to sile in fours (“ quad-pack" ) THE ESSM allows you to densify the volume of a frigate's anti-aircraft missile salvo without increasing the number of silos.

The Dutch financial information television channel RTL Z revealed this Thursday, November 21 that due to the current high position of the dollar compared to the euro, the foreign currency reserves provisioned by the Dutch Ministry of Defense are insufficient. They do not make it possible to compensate for this larger-than-expected gap. As a result, an additional cost of 250 million euros must be matched by the Dutch Ministry of Defense in order to be able to honor the orders to be placed as part of the acquisition of the 37 F-35A ordered in 2014 for 4500 million euros (2014) plus 9 F-35A additional (~1000 million euros) added to the programming in 2019.

These 1000 million plus 250 million euros of additional budgetary credits to be allocated to the acquisition program of 37 plus 9 F-35As require modification of the military programming of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it was decided and presented on Defense White Paper 2018 unveiled in March 2018. Annex No. 4 of this document contains a summary schedule of all the arms programs to be launched.

Three programs concern the future of the air defense frigates of the Dutch fleet, namely:

  • Replacement of air defense and command frigates (incl. Studies)
    • for a cost estimated to exceed 2500 million euros,
  • Acquisition and integration of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Block II
    • i.e. 250 to 1000 million euros,
  • Replacement of Standard Missile 2 Block IIIA (SM2-IIIA)
    • i.e. 250 to 1000 million euros,
  • Midlife update (MLU) of air defense and command frigates
    • i.e. 100 to 250 million euros,
  • Replacement of the guns of air defense and command frigates
    • i.e. 100 to 250 million euros.

The complete renewal of the air defense capabilities of the Batavian fleet reaches a financial volume ranging from 3200 to more than 5000 million euros. The distribution of this effort over time can be presented as follows with three major programs: mid-life renovation (mid-life update) of the current class By Zeven Provinciën (LCF) ; replacement and modernization of the entire missile equipment of these frigates then launch of a replacement program.

Atago Defense Analysis | Armed Forces Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military naval constructions
Launch of a RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) on September 12, 2018 off the coast of Kauai (Hawaii) by the Japanese destroyer DDG-177 JS Atago as part of a cooperative engagement test (Japan Flight Test Mission-05 (JFTM-05). The Netherlands wishes to contribute to this capability in Europe. The SM-3 can theoretically intercept space objects in orbit low (up to 250 km altitude).

However, this panorama cannot be complete without the latest program launched and involving these air defense frigates. It was after March 2018 that the desire to contribute to NATO's combat capabilities against theater and intermediate-range ballistic missiles was added to Dutch military programming. In this sense, the air surveillance radar S1850 SMART-L was modernized. The software is updated and the entire weapon system becomes fully digital. In addition, the antenna is now made up of transmission/reception modules (TRX-L) transforming it into an AESA sensor. It remains to launch the program allowing the implementation of the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3). This also involves installing a sixth launcher Mk 41 on the foredeck, the reserve having been provided.

Postpone the launch of the replacement program for the four frigates of the class by five years By Zeven Provinciën abrupt programming and Royal Navy. The first of these four frigates will not leave service after 27 years at sea but 33 years. The mid-life renovation will inevitably have to take this into account in order to give these frigates enough potential to last these five additional years.

On the other hand, it is possible to assume a beneficial effect from this decision. It frees up space for maneuver making it possible to launch the budgetary execution phase of all related programs – renewal of missiles, artillery pieces, mid-life renovation – including the addition of costs (700 to 2500 million euros) remains significant.

These 2500 million euros (Replacement of air defense and command frigates (incl. studies)) postponed over time, paradoxically, contain the potential to free up the room for maneuver necessary for the acquisition of missiles SM-3 and to carry out the work related to their integration. Additional costs will appear as probably modernization work to be carried out for the radar appear so that it remains at the level of evolving threats, in particular hypersonic vehicles, maneuvering supersonic anti-ship missiles.

C6kDXFwWwAE4iRa Defense Analysis | Armed Forces Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military naval constructions
The S1850 SMART-L radars on the four De Zeven Provinciën class frigates were modernized and brought to the SMART-L EWC standard. These radars are now able to range up to 2000 km and at an altitude of 700 km. They can track space objects 4 meters and more in space. Germany has the same plan as the Netherlands to contribute to NATO's counter-ballistic missile capabilities.

This delay, in addition to accelerating the remaining programs, will perhaps also have the effect of accelerating decision-making regarding the Walrus-class submarine replacement program but also of providing the resources necessary for progress. decisive for moving forward on the succession of M-fregat Belgian (Leopold 1 (2007) et Louise Marie (2008), initially admitted to active service in the Koninklijke Marine in 1991, and Dutch (Zr.Ms. Van Amstel (1993) and Zr.Ms. Van Speijk (1995), all from the same Karel Doorman class. Amsterdam is in charge of this program for which Damen proposed the frigate Omega. Paradoxically, once again, the renewal and modernization of naval capabilities would benefit from the easing of the budgetary bottleneck.

Finally, this delay in the replacement program for class frigates By Zeven Provinciën brings the Dutch calendar closer to those of France, Italy and the United Kingdom, without forgetting Germany, regarding the replacement of the frigates resulting from the program Main Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS), that is to say, and respectively, the frigates of the Horizon program and the destroyers Type 45. This therefore opens up a field of possibilities with regard to PESCO programs concerning, in particular, future air defense capabilities.

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