Several years ago, it was decided to keep the Dutch air defence and command frigates (LC frigates) in service longer. As such, State Secretary of Defence Christophe van der Maat announced on 15 June that this will require adapting or replacing certain systems to keep them safe, seaworthy and operationally relevant.

For many systems, the supply of spare parts comes to an end or the software becomes obsolete. Therefore, investments are being made in replacements. This concerns general systems such as the cooling systems, hoist equipment, boilers and fire alarm systems. But also smaller electronic systems such as navigation radars, electro-optical systems and radio systems. Networks and computer systems are also covered by the project.

Also read: Dutch Defence reaches agreement with Damen and Thales for ASW frigates

Air defence

For two of the four LC frigates, the modifications also entail operational improvements. These are the first frigates to be decommissioned (in 2032 and 2033). Earlier, it had been decided not to equip these ships with the new ESSM Block 2 air defence missile. They will retain the ESSM Block 1 missiles. These will now get a software modification for better performance. This will make the frigates more resistant to modern threats.

The two frigates that do get the ESSM Block 2 will be equipped with RAM missiles for short-range air defence. All ships will also get a new 127-mm gun and new anti-ship missiles. It had previously been decided to acquire Tomahawks for firepower from sea.

Also read: Dutch navy frigates get Naval Strike Missiles

Major maintenance

Most of the modifications and replacements will be carried out between 2024 and 2029, when the frigates undergo major maintenance. The ships are expected to be out of service for a 1.5 years during that period.

Defence intends to use existing contracts and suppliers as much as possible in the acquisition. The project involves between EUR 50-250 million.

Curious to read how the new gun and ammunition handling will be installed? Read an article by Nevesbu on how they will carry out this work.

Picture: HNLMS LC frigate De Ruyter (by the Dutch Ministry of Defence).

Also read: New radars and jammers for Dutch frigates