Belgium and Netherlands will build Anti-Submarine Warfare frigates as the replacement of multipurpose M-class frigates which have been serving for decades, defence ministries of the two countries announced on 13th January.
The two countries’ initiation of the ASW purposed frigate project instead of multipurpose ships is likely due to the increasing Russian submarine danger in the region. The existence of super-quiet submarines of the Russian Baltic Fleet causes the regional countries to take necessary ASW countermeasures.
The ship class will consist of 2 Belgian and 2 Dutch frigates. Detecting and fighting submarines will be the primary task. The frigates are equipped to cope with the threat environment of the future within the scope of Defense Vision 2035.
The ASW frigates will be outfitted with the latest anti-submarine warfare techniques and robust self-defense against surface threats. There is also extensive automation in order to be able to operate with a limited crew. Discussions on the specifications of the systems that Dutch shipbuilder Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding and Defense electronics company Thales will supply are in full swing.
The replacement process will be conducted through the so-called A, B and D phases. In 2018, the A letter with the requirements statement went to the Dutch House of Representatives. The B letter on the study phase was delivered in 2020. Meanwhile, there is formal permission to proceed with the acquisition preparation (the D phase).
The Netherlands is in charge of the replacement process, in close consultation with Belgium. The Defense Materiel Organization realizes the acquisition with the Royal Netherlands Navy and Belgian colleagues. By 2030, the 4 ASW frigates must be available for both navies.