The new Dutch anti-aircraft frigate, an opportunity for France?

That's done ! The Dutch Parliament approved, on June 11, the acquisition of four Blacksword Barracuda type submarines from the French Naval Group, to replace the Walrus class submarines currently in service in the Dutch Navy. The last obstacle for the official order is now the legal appeal brought by TKMS before the court in The Hague, and which must be judged on June 26.

If the Batavian parliamentarians mainly trust the French offer, it remains true that some of the questions that emerged during the debates deserve proactive consideration on the part of Paris, and the French industrialist. .

In particular, the question of sharing industrial activity with the Dutch naval industry, and more specifically with Damen, represents a particularly sensitive and divisive point, which should be addressed before the new government in The Hague takes the controllers of the country.

On this subject, the Dutch Navy recently launched the preliminary study of a new heavy anti-aircraft frigate, on a schedule close to that which will be imposed on the French Navy to replace the Horizon frigates of the Forbin class.

In this context, would it be relevant, and effective, for France, as for Naval Group, to join the Dutch program entrusted to Damen, to reduce the costs of developing a new French air defense frigate, and to give the Dutch authorities, relevant cooperation guarantees for its naval industry, in the medium and long term?

Dutch Parliament Officially Approves Acquisition of Blacksword Barracuda from Naval Group

A little over a week ago, the ORKA program to replace the Walrus-class submarines of the Koninklijke Marine, the Royal Netherlands Navy, reached a decisive milestone.

Blacksword barracuda Naval Group
Naval Group's Blacksword Barracuda is closer than ever to finding its way to the Koninklijke Marine.

After the outgoing government announced the victory of Naval Group, with the Blacksword Barracuda model, during the competition which pitted it against the German TKMS, and the Saab-Damen couple, the program had, in fact, to receive the approval of the new Dutch Parliament, with a nationalist majority since the elections legislative elections in fall 2023.

Far from being a formality, the outgoing Minister of Defense, Christophe Van der Maat, had to respond to numerous questions and attacks that had emerged in the Dutch press in the weeks preceding the parliamentary hearing, in particularly concerning the guarantees regarding the price offered by the French industrialist, 25% cheaper than its other competitors, and regarding the investment commitments of Naval group in the local industry.

The answers provided by the Minister of Defense and his teams to the questions of parliamentarians had apparently hit the mark, since at the end of this session, the majority parties announced that they supported the program. However, it was necessary for a series of motions tabled by Chris Stoffer of the Reformed Political Party (SPG), representing only 3 of the 150 seats in the new chamber, to be voted on to continue.

It is now done. Indeed, the three motions filed by Mr. Stoffer were rejected, paving the way for the official signing of the order, which must take place before the end of July 2024. However, we will have to wait for the complaint filed by the German TKMS, regarding the call for tenders itself , be ruled by Dutch justice, the subject being presented on June 26 before the court of justice in The Hague.

2 of the 3 major Dutch Navy programs awarded to Naval Group

Knowing that since June 4, and the unofficial conclusions of the parliamentary debate, Damen and Saab, although particularly vehement before that, have, it seems, thrown in the towel to turn to other more promising fights, we may think that the chances that the appeal initiated by TKMS has little chance of succeeding, and that it serves above all to cast a certain doubt on the validity of the price proposed by Naval group, in future competitions .

rMCM mine warfare program
The six large Dutch mine warfare vessels will have been designed and manufactured by Naval Group and ECA.

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