MKS 180, also known as the F126 frigate, is a new multi-purpose combat ship being developed for the German Navy to replace its Brandenburg class frigates, especially in their anti-submarine warfare role if fitted with a modular towed array sonar (the ASW module). MKS 180 is envisioned as a modular ship, meaning that it will be capable of assuming anti-submarine, anti-air, and surface warfare missions. The class is to be mission modular and is capable of accommodating so-called mission modules which include devices, space, sensors, and weaponry necessary to carry out a given task optimally.
Though German Navy call the new asset a “frigate”, she is a destroyer with a length of 160 meters and displacement of 10000 tonnes.
Similar to the Baden-Württemberg class, however, they will also be able to stay at sea for up to two years without requiring maintenance at the port, with crews rotating to and from the deployed ship every four months. This capability is expected to allow for more efficient use of hulls by reducing the time spent during the transfer from Germany to conflict zones such as the sea off the Horn of Africa where German ships repeatedly took part in counter-piracy missions such as Operation Atalanta, patrolling large areas for a long time.
The four MKS 180 (MehrzweckKampfSchiff) ships will serve as multi-mission platforms and will be commissioned by the German Navy as F126 frigates. The ships will be primarily built at Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, while Blohm+Voss’ shipyards in Bremen, Kiel. Construction of the frigates is expected to commence in 2023 and the first ship will be delivered to the German Navy in 2027. The remaining ships will be delivered by 2031.
The MKS 180 is a resilient, multi-purpose ship designed for long periods at sea, fulfilling a broad range of low-, medium- and high-intensity missions: monitoring maritime areas, maritime interdiction operations, escorting merchant ships, protecting sea lanes of communication, reinforcing sea rescue teams and humanitarian aid efforts or supporting special forces in crisis zones. The MKS 180 frigate will be able to conduct multi-threat naval operations simultaneously.
MKS 180 frigate will have an overall length of 160m and displacement of 10,000 tonnes. It will have the capacity to accommodate 114 crew members and will also feature 80 spare accommodation for additional crew. Designed to be continuously deployed with minimal maintenance for up to two years and operate for 5000 hours per year.
It can speed up to 26 KTS (48 km/h; 30 mph). It has a range of 4,000 nm with 18 Kts. The ship’s endurance is 21 days. The service life of the frigate will be approximately 30 years.
The multi-mission frigate will be powered by a silent propulsion system. This ship is equipped with the CODLAD propulsion system which is based on the use of electric motors directly connected to the axes (generally two) of the propellers. The electric motors are powered by diesel generators and to have higher speeds. This capability will support anti-submarine warfare role.
The frigate will be equipped with Thales X-band APAR Block 2 multi-function fire radar, TRS-4D C-band air and surface surveillance radar, gatekeeper 360° IR/TV system, and Mirador MK2 EO tracking and observation system, KORA C-ESM and R-ESM electronic warfare sensors and the SATCOM system.
The ship will be fitted with THALES Tacticos Combat Management System and the AWWS (Above Water Warfare System) Fire Control Cluster. AWWS is a warfare suite that helps the ship crews to counter and neutralize complex saturation attacks by continuously analyzing and optimizing the tactical environment and deployment of resources. AWWS will be combined with APAR Block 2.
The F126 frigate will be armed with a 127mm main gun with Vulcano extended-range precision ammunition. Other weaponry on board the warship will include MK41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for ESSM Block 2 missiles, as well as Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) and RAM Close-in Weapon System (CIWS). She will has two NH90 Sea Tiger maritime helicopter and Saab Skeldar UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
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