Friday, December 1, 2023

Armada española: agreement on financing detailed studies of the five F-110 frigates

On November 29, 2019, the Spanish government committed to the shipbuilding company Navantia to provide it with a financing solution at a preferential interest rate with deferred repayment for the benefit of detailed studies of the Fragata F-110 (Fregate F) -110) intended to replace the F-80 or Santa María . These detailed studies, lasting one year, are the last step before the first unit is launched. The F-110 S-80 Plus submarines will complete the modernization of the Armada española (Spanish Navy) begun during the 1990s.

F-110 frigate program was one of the operational capabilities targeted by the Alta Mar Plan (PAM) or High Seas Plan published in March 1990. It aimed to create a so-called “second line” navy. whose strategic utility was to ensure for the benefit of NATO the control of the waters between Galicia, the Canary Islands and Barcelona, ​​in cooperation with Portugal and the United Kingdom. The key point of the system is the protection of the Strait of Gibraltar. The high point of the ALTAMAR plan was to be the accession to naval aviation permanence through the acquisition of a second aircraft carrier to serve alongside the aircraft carrier Príncipe de Asturias (1988). In this perspective, buildings not modernized by the ARmada GENERAL PLAN ( PLANGENAR ) had to be replaced.

The succession of F-70 Balearic class (5) ensured by the F-80 or Santa María ( Santa María (1986), Victoria (1987), Numancia (1988), Reina Sofía (1990) benefited from the order additional two units: the Navarra (1994) and Canarias (1994). These six buildings are licensed constructions of the American frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry .

Santa Maria 2007
The anti-submarine frigates of the F-80 program - here, the Santa María (2007) - are the licensed construction of the American frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry class. They only have a hull sonar. Future F-110s will have a very low frequency active variable depth sonar which will increase the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the Spanish Navy tenfold.

Gearing -class anti-aircraft destroyers ( Churruca (1972 - 1989), Gravina (1972 - 1991), Méndez Núñez (1973 - 1992), Lángara (1973 - 1992) and Blas de Lezo (1973 - 1991) received under the FRAM-I ( Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization ) program was led by the F-100 . It was to include four frigates to be laid down between 1997 and 2000. The planning was respected but five years late: the F frigates -100 became the Álvaro de Bazán class ( Álvaro de Bazán (2002), Almirante Juan de Borbón (2003), Blas de Lezo (2004), Méndez Núñez (2006). The Armada española modified its plans by adding a fifth unit ( Cristóbal Colón (2012) while having long desired a sixth frigate.

F-110 program aimed to design and produce (2000 - 2005) five frigates in addition to the six F-80s . The F-110s would then have been enlarged and modernized versions of the F-100 . But the delay taken by the ALTAMAR plan, together with the budgetary contraction inherent in the 1990s, forced a modification of the planning: the F -110s were no longer to be added to the F-80 and F-100 but to ensure the succession of the F-80s , the first unit of which would reach 25 years of service in 2001.

Alvaro de Bazan 2014
The frigates of the F-100 program replace the Churruca class destroyers which were former Gearing class destroyers of the US Navy where they were admitted to active service in 1945. The F-100s notably have a 127 mm/ 54 caliber Mk45 Mod 2, a vertical launch system with 48 silos (32 × SM-2MR Block IIIA + 64 × ESSM (“quad-pack”).

repositioned F-110 program Buque de Surface de la Armada (BSA). The industrialist Izar (2000) who became Navantia (2005) worked to satisfy the military needs of the Spanish Navy through the F2M2 ( Future Frigate Multi Missions ) project. The main mission of future buildings is logically anti-submarine warfare, replacing the F-80s . To the main mission must be added asymmetrical combat capabilities as well as the ability to act in the context of so-called “low intensity” crises and conflicts.

F2M2 project Future Surface Combatant (Royal Navy), Littoral Combat Ship and DDG(X)/DDG-1000 (US Navy) programs It was a trimaran vessel with an inverted bow, with a large helicopter platform and full integration of the antennas into the superstructures. The entire silhouette of the project bore witness to an all-out search for the smallest possible radar equivalent surface.

The characteristics of the project were only given as an indication when Navantia presented its proposal for the Armada española in 2010: a hull 140 meters long, a main beam (largest width) of 30 meters. The displacement at full load would have been close to 5000 tonnes. The propulsion allowed a maximum speed of 35 knots. The main artillery piece had to be a 76 mm without benefiting from a superstructure allowing the piece to be “hidden” when at rest. 35 mm Millennium system Oerlikon ) installed on the roof of the aircraft hangar was to participate in short and very short range anti-aircraft defense capabilities. The vertical launch system consisted of four octuple launchers, bringing the total to 32 silos, 16 of which were to receive 64 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile ( ESSM ) Block 2 .

The F-110 was once again delayed due to the originally unplanned construction of a fifth F-100 ( Cristóbal Colón (2012)) and the extension of the Buques de Acción Marítima ( BAM ). Furthermore, Navantia 's F2M2 was refused by the Spanish Navy due, in particular, to the propulsion considered too noisy in relation to the future main mission: anti-submarine warfare.

Navantia F2M2
One of the many variations of the F2M2 project studied by Navantia with a view to responding to the F-110 program. The multi-hull formula was abandoned in favor of a single hull, a more traditional solution with a view to retaining quieter propulsion. This kind of architecture is still studied, for example, by Naval group (Ocean avenger).

Repositioned on a more traditional monocoque architecture, the future F-110 will no longer be just an enlarged and modernized version of the F-100 . They will benefit from feedback from the classes designed and built for the benefit of the Norwegian navies ( Fridtjof Nansen (5 then 4) and Australian ( Hobart (3). The most critical will probably be the feedback on the sinking of the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad (November 18, 2018). The ability of the frigate to continue sailing with one or two compartments flooded was clearly not possible.

F-110 program benefited from initial funding of 2 million euros so that Navantia and Indra could carry out design studies for the integrated mast. Development continued with an additional contract in August 2015 for the preliminary study of the general design of the F-110 ( Etapa de Preparación de la Ejecución (EPE) which was completed in 2018. The program was approved by the Spanish government on December 14, 2018 for the sum of 4,317 million euros. The industrialization phase began with notification of the contract to the manufacturer on April 23, 2019.

The preliminary design phase ( Revisión Preliminar de Diseño ) will be completed during the last quarter of 2019. Detailed studies of the F-110 will only then begin for a period of one year. And to do this, the Spanish government announced the allocation on November 29, 2019 of a loan at a preferential interest rate with deferred repayment of 1,638 million euros in order to finance the “F-110 Frigate development program” . Most of the loan will be repaid from 2025.

It is when the critical review ( Revisión de Diseño Crítica ) is completed at the end of 2020 that the keel of the first frigate will be laid. Admission to active service could be announced as early as 2026. The fifth frigate could enter the fleet in 2031, or even 2032.

This allows us to understand the distribution of the costs of this program of 4,317 million euros: 1,638 million for the detailed studies, 2,679 million euros for the construction of the five frigates. The unit production cost at 535.8 million euros and 863.4 million euros taking into account the studies.

Fragata F 110 characteristics
Like the F-100s, future F-110s will have Mk 41strike length ” launchers capable of launching missiles up to seven meters in length ( SM-3 , cruise missiles) . More broadly, the Spanish surface fleet would be limited to 10 frigates until the early 2030s. A sixth F-110 is hoped for like the sixth F-100 .

The Spanish Armada requires that these frigates have an operational life of 40 years with a mid-life renovation carried out after 20 years of service. They will be available in increments of 240 days for operations and will remain in high availability for periods of 18 months. The first mid-life renovation of the head of the series would take place around 2046 and the last frigate would leave service around 2071.

Future F-110 will have a monocoque architecture with a single, integrated mast. Their length will be 146 meters for a main beam of 18.6 meters. The draft would be 4.95 meters. The fully loaded displacement will be 6179 tonnes while the light displacement could be around 4800 tonnes. The F-110s will operate at up to 30 knots while having a cruise speed in excess of 17 knots. The autonomy will be more than 4100 nautical miles at 15 knots with 30 days of food. They will be armed by crews of 150 sailors.

F 110 propulsion
The propulsion of the F-110s will allow silent tactical operation at around 10 to 15 knots, reducing the risks of detection from opposing submarines and therefore the noise radiated by the sonar-carrying vessel, increasing by as much the effectiveness of the anti-submarine warfare suite on board.

The propulsion of future buildings is of the CODELADOG ( COmbined Diesel-ELectric And Diesel Or Gas ). It would consist of a GE LM-2500 gas turbine, two diesel propulsion engines, two electric propulsion motors and an electrical plant powered by four “encapsulated” diesel generators (11.5 MW) in order to reduce their acoustic signature. The frigates will benefit from silent tactical operation (electric motors powered by the electrical plant), cruising (diesel engines) and full speed operation (gas turbine coupled to diesel engines). Propulsion will drive two shaft lines each terminating in a variable pitch propeller.

The anti-submarine capabilities, in addition to benefiting from this silent tactical march, will be structured around a suite including a hull-mounted sonar (Hull-Mounted Sonar (HMS) UMS 4110 CL Kingklip from Thales. It could be replaced when of a major modernization with a hull sonar specially designed for anti-submarine operations in coastal waters. In addition, the frigates will have a towed sonar with variable immersion (Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) at Active Very Low Frequency (ATBF or Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) CAPTAS 4 ( Combined Active & Passive Towed Array Sonar ) from Thales. The buildings will receive four double 324 mm torpedo tubes installed in two double launchers in the middle of the building. They will be able to fire light torpedoes Mk 46 and Mk 54. The embarkation of an SH-60B SeaHawk Lamps III (ASM) or NH-90 MTH (transport) helicopter will complement the underwater combat capabilities.

The combat system will be the Sistema de COMbate de los Buques de la Armada ( SCOMBA ) Baseline 5 designed based on some of the technological bricks of the AEGIS combat system. The AEGIS Weapon System Mk 7 will manage the AN/SPY-7(V) flat fan radar to equip the integrated mast, in addition to the S-band radar.

The frigates' naval artillery configuration will consist of a single piece of 127 mm/64 caliber Lightweight from OTO-Melara which will be placed on the foredeck. Vulcano shells whose maximum range announced by the manufacturer is around 120 km. The secondary artillery will be limited to two remotely operated 30 mm cannons installed on either side of the roof of the aircraft hangar, which will allow the port and starboard sectors to be covered simultaneously but not to cross fire. Reservations have been made in order to be able to integrate a directed energy weapon system in the future.

Anti-surface warfare capabilities will be based around two quadruple launchers for RGM-84L Harpoon Block II with a range of 278 km.

The F-110 vertical launch system will ultimately only have two octuple Mk 41 Baseline VII . F-100 and F-110 frigates are and will be equipped with the Mk 41strike length ”. This variant of the Mk 41 RGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile ( TLAM Block IV cruise missiles or RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 ( SM-3 ) anti-ballistic missiles. Madrid had concluded an agreement in 2005 with the United States for the order of Tomahawk, an agreement revoked by Madrid in 2008. The material provisions leave open the choices regarding a new choice for the cruise missile or for offer a naval contribution to NATO's anti-ballistic missile capabilities.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense confirmed to Jane's on September 20, 2018 that the choice had favored the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile ( ESSM ) Block 2 in order to ensure short-range anti-aircraft defense up to approximately 50 km. They would be siled in fours (" quad-pack ") in six of the sixteen silos, thus ensuring an allocation of 24 ESSM Block 2. The remaining ten silos would be occupied by as many RIM-66M-5 Standard Missile-2 Block IIIB Medium Range or SM-2 Block IIIB MR whose range would be 166.7 km (90 nautical miles). 36 examples of this missile were acquired in 2007 for the benefit of the F-100 frigates plus 20 others in 2018 for the F-110.

Compared to the initially desired characteristics, the aeronautical installations have been reduced to operate not two but a single rotary wing which could be an SH-60B or an NH-90. This reduction in volume dedicated to the aeronautical hangar located on the port half allows the creation on the starboard half of a multi-mission space that can accommodate up to four containers, or any boat or drone compatible with the dimensions of this space. As with the Type 31 , this space leaves the door open to the possible embarkation of a mine warfare mission module with its drone system. Also, this space would be sufficiently modular to accommodate a helicopter.

Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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