German Hessen frigate fires two missiles by mistake against an American MQ-9 drone in the Red Sea

Since its arrival in the Red Sea a few days ago, the Bundesmarine frigate Hessen has barely had time to warm up. Indeed, on the night of February 27 to 28, the German anti-aircraft frigate engaged and destroyed two Houthi drones launched near its patrol zone.

After the National Navy, then the Royal Navy, the Bundesmarine is therefore the third European navy to have used its weapons against Houthi drones and anti-ship missiles. It is the only one, however, to have attempted to destroy an American MQ-9A Reaper reconnaissance drone, which was patrolling the area...

Two Houthi drones destroyed with 76 mm cannon and ESSM missile by Bundesmarine frigate Hessen in the Red Sea

Leaving Germany on February 8, the frigate Hessen is one of three anti-aircraft frigates of the class F124 Sachsen in service within thein Bundesmarine. Entering service in 2006, this 143 meter, 5 ton ship is also one of the best armed in the German fleet.

Its armament consists of a 76 mm Oto-Melara cannon, a VLS Mk41 vertical launch system with 32 silos, two quadruple Harpoon anti-ship launchers, two triple torpedo tubes armed with Mu90, as well as two CIWS systems RAMs each armed with 21 very short-range missiles.

Frigate Hessen German Navy
The F-221 Hessen frigate of the BundesMarine measures 143 meters for a displacement of 5 tonnes. 800 officers and sailors form its crew.

Twenty-four of the frigate's VLS silos contain a medium-range anti-aircraft missile SM-2 Block IIIa, with a range of 90 nautical miles, while the 8 remaining cells each accommodate 4 ESSM short and medium range anti-aircraft missiles, or 32 missiles, with a range of 35 to 40 km.

Surveillance is provided by the high-performance Thales SMART-L long-range radar, coupled with an APAR surveillance and guidance radar, also developed by Thales. This range of sensors is completed, in the field of anti-submarine warfare, by an STN Atlas DSQS-24B bow sonar, and an IRST infrared detection system.

Having integrated European naval operation in the Red Sea Aspide, the frigate Hessen experienced its operational baptism of fire on February 27, when it carried out two successful interceptions against Houthi drones, one using an ESSM missile, the second with its 76 mm cannon, the drone being particularly ready, it seems, when the order to fire was given.

ESSM missile frigate Hessen
Four ESSM missiles, successors to the Sea Sparrow, can be placed in a single cell of the Mk41 VLS system of the German F-124s.

Note that a few weeks earlier, an American destroyer also fired its defensive artillery, in this case its 20 mm CIWS Phalanx, which, again, indicates that the targeted and destroyed drone was extraordinarily close, certainly too close, to the US Navy ship. For the moment, no explanation has been given on this subject, neither by the Bundesmarine nor by the US Navy.

An incident which almost led to the destruction of an American MQ-9 Reaper drone operating IFF cut

If the February 27 engagement was the Hessen frigate's operational baptism of fire, it would not have been the first time that it had used its missiles since its arrival in the Red Sea.

German Hessen frigate fires two missiles by mistake against an American MQ-9 drone in the Red Sea 5

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