After a shooting incident, the Belgian frigate Louise-Marie sees its deployment in the Red Sea postponed

En route to the Mediterranean to join the Aspide mission in the Red Sea, the frigate Louise-Marie of the Belgian Marine Component participated in an exercise to test its capabilities to respond to the threat posed by Houthi drones.

Good luck to him. Indeed, on this occasion, the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile, supposed to be sent to intercept the target drone, remained stuck in its Mk48 silo, causing the failure of the exercise, and the decision to postpone the deployment of the Belgian frigate in the Red Sea.

This is the third major incident concerning the deployment of surface-to-air missiles as first intention aboard a European NATO frigate in two months, casting real doubt on the level of operational readiness of several Marines of the alliance, while the threat is higher than ever in the last forty years.

The Belgian Marine Component, a particularly compact naval force

Although the country only has 67 km of coastline, Belgium is home to the second largest commercial port in Europe and 13th in the world, Antwerp-Bruges, with 271 million tonnes of transshipment each year, behind the 440 mt of the port of Rotterdam in Dutch neighbor.

port antwerp
the port of Antwerp-Bruges is the second largest port in the European Union, with 271 mt of annual transshipment.

In addition, its exclusive economic zone of 3 km500 exceeds in area several of the country's regions. Yet, the Marine Component, official designation of the Belgian Navy, is one of the most compact naval forces in Europe, with only 1 men, including 500 reservists, five Tripartite mine hunters, 200 Castor class patrol boats, and above all, two Class frigates. Karel Doorman, Leopold 2ᵉʳ, and Louise-Marie.

Despite this format, the Marine Component is very active, frequently participating in international exercises and naval reaction forces, particularly within NATO, or regularly accompanying the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

This is how the Louise-Marie was to join the European Aspide mission in the Red Sea on April 12, to protect commercial traffic against Houthi missiles and drones. To this end, the frigate participated in a live fire exercise in the Mediterranean, to engage and destroy a target drone reproducing the characteristics of the attack drones used by the Houthi rebels, in the presence of Admiral Michel Hofman, the head of headquarters of the Belgian Armies.

Failed RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile fire against target drone in Mediterranean

However, the exercise did not go as expected. Indeed, the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile, the frigate's main anti-aircraft weapon, is remained stuck in its vertical silo of the Mk48 system.

Few details have been given at this time regarding this incident. At best, we know that the Belgian frigate was not able to intercept the drone, neither using another missile, nor its 76 mm OTO-Melara cannon or its CIWS Goalkeeper of 30mm.

frigate louise-marie firing a Sea Sparrow missile
Firing of a RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile from the Belgian frigate Louise-Marie

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