The launching of another ship of the MEKO family of corvettes “Amatola” for the Navy of South Africa — at first glance, were not fraught with anything unusual. Nevertheless, this event, held on 7 June 2002 at the Hamburg shipyard “Blohm und Voss”, attracted attention of specialists from different countries of the world And it was not only that the new draft MEKO-A200 predicted a great future in the international market for naval armaments of the South African Corvette was noteworthy in several respects, clearly describing trends in modern shipbuilding.
In naval literature it has already been named the firstborn generation of the XXI century, and for good reason.
First of all, noteworthy is the classification of a ship with a displacement of 3500 tons as Corvette — today it is the largest and most powerfully armed Corvette in the world. Of course, here not the last role was played by political motives — explicit frigates were officially relegated in order to facilitate the approval of their construction in the country’s Parliament. However, this decision turned out to be quite relevant to the current trends. Indeed, the current multiplicity of classes of warships obsolete: it is impossible to draw clear lines between large missile boats and corvettes, between corvettes and frigates, between frigates and destroyers, between destroyers and cruisers. That is, if before each of these classes had their own specific tasks, but now they are all at the appointment became close, and the ships differ from each other only in size. Here not to recall historical analogy: for several centuries sailing warships actually belonged to one class were divided into five grades in accordance with the size and number of guns. It is logical to assume that in the near future something like this happens. With the exception of aircraft carriers, submarines and some specialized support vessels, all other combat units of the fleet can turn into a “multi-purpose surface ships of a certain rank”. However, de facto this is already happening.
Returning to the Corvette “Amatola”, very interesting to trace the background of its appearance. In 1990-e years the most modern surface ships of the Navy of South Africa were nine large missile boats of the “Ministry”, built partly in Israel and partly in a private shipyard in Durban under Israeli license. However, these boats are designed for restricted waters of the Mediterranean, for service in the open ocean proved to be unsuitable. In result they had to withdraw to the reserve. To replace them we decided to build larger and more seaworthy corvettes, and to save money, the weapons and electronics for them was to take boats type “Mini-ster”. On the initial designs of the new corvettes was planned to equip an unusually strong artillery (three or four 76-mm gun mount, “OTO-Melara” linear-elevated location) and a battery of anti-ship missiles “Scorpion” (a copy of the Israeli Gabriel). But in the future from such an extravagant option, refused, preferring to project the German company “Blohm und Voss”. This story once again confirms the characteristic fact: more and more countries are refusing the “mosquito” fleet in favour of larger ships. Probably, the class of missile boats in the future will sink into oblivion…
The final armament of corvettes type “Amatola” is distinguished by one feature — it includes not only Western but also South African production. We are talking about anti-aircraft missiles”, Umkhonto” and 35-mm automatic gun mounts company “Denel”. This new trend — the creation of a third world its own modern weapons systems — is spreading so quickly that to ignore it by American and European “tastemakers” in the field of armaments is impossible.
In terms of the concept of “Amatola” is a multipurpose frigate, designed according to the modular design of the MEKO in accordance with the technology “stealth”. From its predecessors, the ship features the original propul-intensive installation, which includes two low-noise propeller and one jet engine “the wärtsilä-lips” made in Finland. As the power plant uses a popular combination of two MTU diesel engines with a capacity of 8050 HP and the gas turbine LM-2500 of company “General electric” (27 200 HP). There are several modes of operation of engines in different combinations; the maximum speed is 27 knots At economic speed 15 knots cruising range reaches 7700 miles.
129. The frigate “Bergamini”, Italy (draft).
Built at the shipyard “Riva Trigoso” in La Spezia. Full load displacement of 5500 tons the Length of the longest 135 m. Capacity twin-shaft diesel-gas turbine 65 500 HP, a speed of 29 knots. Armament: 8 SSN”, Teseo”, one vertical PU SAM “Aster”, one 127 mm and one 76-mm gun mount, “OTO-Breda”, two twin-tube 324-mm torpedo tubes, and one helicopter “Merlin” or NFH-90. Head frigate laid down in 2004, it is planned to build 4 units.
130. Multipurpose landing ship “Absalon”, Denmark, 2005.
Built at the shipyard “Odense” (Denmark). Full displacement 6300 t Length overall 137 m, width 19.5 m, draught 6,3 m, Speed 23 knots. Armament: 8 RCC “Harpoon”, one vertical PU SAM “sea Sparrow”, one 127-mm gun mount MK-45, two small-caliber machine gun, two anti-submarine torpedo tubes, two helicopters EH-101, two landing craft LCP (under the project of missile and torpedo weapons are supposed to be set after 2007). It is planned to build 2 units.
Weapons “Anatoly” includes eight RCC “Exocet Block 2”, the installation of vertical launch anti-aircraft missiles “Umkhonto” with a range of up to 12 km, one 76-mm gun mount “OTO-Melara” (in fact, the only legacy of decommissioned missile boats type “Mini-ster”), 35-mm anti-aircraft tanks and helicopter “Super link”. In addition, the place is reserved for the installation of two anti-submarine torpedo tubes and a pair of 20-mm “Arlekino”.
An order for four corvettes type “Amatola” the South African government officially ratified in December 1999. For the construction of ships formed a special consortium with the participation of German, French and South African capital. Head Corvette arrived in Cape town in November 2003. The following year was commissioned a “Isandlwana” and “Spionkop”, in 2005 — the latest in a series of “mehndi”. It is assumed that fully operational, all four ships will be by the beginning of 2006, after completion of training.
The entry into operation of the Corvette “Amatola” coincided with the emergence in Europe of two of his “distant relatives” — German and Dutch frigates “Sachsen” and “De Zeven Provincien”. These ships also grew out of the modular concept MECO, but compared to their export counterparts, they are much larger and equipped with more sophisticated electronics. Their prototype was the unrealized project of a “single frigate NATO” NFR-90, developed together with designers from Germany and the Netherlands in the early 1990-ies. Such cooperation had already taken place a decade and a half ago when these two countries also tried to create a standard multi-purpose vehicle (see “modelist-Konstruktor” No. 2, 2005). History repeated itself: developing a draft project together, the Germans and the Dutch finalizing of drawings to meet your requirements decide to do it yourself. As a result, both the head of the ship was quite similar in characteristics, but markedly different both in appearance and armament.
131. Project the image of a ship LCS United States.
One of the options “littoral combat ship” proposed by the firm “Lockheed Martin”. A displacement of about 3000 m maximum Length 115 m, width 13 m, draft of less than 4 m. the Speed of about 60 knots. Armament: anti-ship missiles “Harpoon”, air defense missile systems of self-defense, one 127-mm gun mount MK 45, and the helicopter. Since 2007, it is planned to build 55 — 60 units.
132. Corvette “guarding”, Russia (draft).
Built at the Northern shipyard in St. Petersburg (project 20380) since December 2001, the Displacement of about 2,000 tons maximum Length 100 m, width 13 m, Diesel propulsion, a speed of 30 knots. Armament: 8 anti-ship missiles “Uranus” anti-aircraft missile and artillery complex “Dirk”, one 100-mm gun mount AK-190, two six-barreled 30 mm AK-630M, anti-submarine rocket-torpedo complex “Waterfall”, the helicopter. Just laid down 2 units.
The frigate “Sachsen” (type 124) in fact represent an increased “Brandenburg” (type 123) with more pronounced architecture “stealth” and the American anti-missile system of collective defense “Standard.” Low noise combined power plant includes a gas turbine LM-2500 and two diesel engines, working through the gearbox to two five-blade propeller. Special attention was given to improving the survivability of the ship. It is reported that the case “Saxena” able to withstand the explosion of a rocket warhead 150 kg of EXPLOSIVES, without compromising longitudinal strength of the ship. Each of the 15 watertight compartments equipped with independent exhaust and ventilation systems, as well as his post energy.
The external distinguishing feature of the frigate is a massive multi-faceted steel mast with four flat phased array antenna multifunction radar APAR and the characteristic of the rotary antenna, long-range radar detection of air targets SMART – L installed on the roof of the hangar According to foreign press, the APAR system allows to simultaneously track 200 targets and SMART-L — at once for 1000! All data from radars and other sensors do in combat information management system SEWACO, a kind of European response to American multifunction system “aegis”. High level of automation has reduced the number of crew up to 255 people.
Regular artillery armament of the frigates of the “Saxony” includes one 76-mm gun mount “OTO-Breda” (formerly known as “OTO-Melara”). However, the second ship of the series, “Hamburg”, during testing it was installed the tower with the army 155 mm howitzer PzH-2000, capable of firing conventional shells to a range of 40 km and rocket-assisted of 80. The increase in calibre of naval artillery is another emerging trend of military shipbuilding of the new Millennium.
Head frigate type 124 “Sachsen” officially came into operation on 31 December 2003 (just as in the days of the Soviet planned economy — to foster acts of our ships constantly flashing very similar dates!); for him in 2004 — 2005 was followed by “Hamburg” and “Hessen”. The order for building the fourth and last ship — “Thuringen” — was issued some time later; his delivery fleet is expected in late 2006.
Series of the Dutch frigates of the “De Zeven Provincien” also consists of four units. They were ordered in pairs, differing from each type of SAM. So, vertical launcher MK-41, the lead ship followed by “De Ruijter” is equipped with containers with missiles of self-defense “sea Sparrow” (ESSM modification with a range of about 50 km), and “Tromp” and “Enerstena” — missiles “Standard” SM-2 with a range of up to 74 km. it is Noteworthy that in the process of designing the ships of the “De Zeven Provincien” were listed as destroyers, but in the course of construction in order to “pan-European standardization” have been reclassified in frigates.
One important difference from the Dutch frigates from the German, it should be noted the composition of the main power plant (two gas turbine “rolls-Royce Spey” instead of one LM-2500) and a more powerful regular artillery weapons (one 127-mm gun mount “OTO-Breda”, semicolony 30-mm automatic “Fails” and two 20 mm “Oerlikon”) to the detriment of Zenith missile (SAM the RAM was not installed). The main avionics system APAR, SMART-L and SEWACO — same as on “Saxena”. Wide automation has helped reduce crew size — up to 227 people, which for a 6000-ton ship is a record low value.
125. The frigate “De Zeven Provincien”, Netherlands, 2003.
Built at the shipyard “Schelde” in the Netherlands. A displacement of 6500 tons full Length the greatest 144,2 m, width 18.8 m, draft 5,2 m. Capacity twin-shaft diesel-gas turbine 73 600 HP, speed 29 knots. Armament: 8 RCC “Harpoon”, 1×40 vertical PU ESSM SAM (“sea Sparrow”), one 127-mm gun mount “OTO-Breda”, one semicolony 30-mm automatic “Fails”, two 20-mm gun “Oerlikon”, two twin-tube 324-mm torpedo tubes, and one helicopter, the NFH-90. Only in 2003 — 2005 built 4 units.
126. Corvette “Amatola”, South Africa, 2003.
Built at the shipyard “Blohm und Voss” in Hamburg. Full displacement 3590 T. maximum Length 121 m, width 16,34 m and draft of 5.95 m. the thickness of the combined diesel-gas turbine 43, 300 HP, speed 27 knots. Armament: 8 anti-ship missiles “Exocet Block 2”, 1×12 UVP SAM “Umkhonto”, one 76-mm gun mount “OTO-Melara”, one paired 35-mm gun, a helicopter “Super link”. Only in 2003 — 2005 built 4 units.
127. The frigate “Saxony”, Germany, 2003.
Built at the shipyard “Blohm und Voss” in Hamburg. Full displacement 5600 t Length overall 143 m, beam of 17.4 m, draft of 4.4 m. Capacity twin-shaft diesel-gas turbine 52 100 HP, a speed of 29 knots. Armament: 8 RCC “Harpoon”, 1×32 vertical PU SAM “Standard” SM-2, 2×21 RAM SAM PU, one 76 – mm gun mount “FROM Nonsense”, two 27-mm gun “Mauser”, three-pipe, two 324 – mm torpedo tubes, two helicopters NFH-90 or “Super link”. Only 2003 — 2006 built 4 units.
128. The frigate “Alvaro de Basan”, Spain, 2002.
Built at the shipyard “Basan” in Ferrol. Full displacement 5802 T. maximum Length 133.2 m, width 17.5 m, draft 4,5 m. Capacity twin-shaft titelgestaltung installation 59 500 HP, speed 28 knots. Armament: 8 RCC “Harpoon”, 1×32 vertical PU SAM “Standard” SM-2/ESSM, one 127-mm gun mount MK-45, 12 single-barrel 20-mm automatic “Merrok,” two 20-mm gun “Oerlikon”, three-pipe, two 324-mm torpedo tubes, and one helicopter “Seahawk”. In 2002 — 2006 built 4 units.
At the first stage in the development of future frigate NFR-90 in addition to Germany and the Netherlands participated and Spain, but shortly after it withdrew from the agreement and relied on their own project. The result of the work of Spanish designers was the frigate “Alvaro de Basan”. In concept it is very close to their German and Dutch peers, but the armament and radio-electronic equipment seems to be more “Americanized”. And apparently the ship strongly resembles a smaller American destroyer “Arleigh Burke”. At the same time, “Alvaro de Basan” became the world’s first frigate, equipped with multifunctional system “aegis” — it had previously established only on the us and Japanese ships of the class “destroyer — cruiser”. Only the Spaniards built four such frigates; at present, they carry out an order from Norway for the construction of a series of similar but smaller ships of the “Fridtjof Nansen”.
An alternative to the frigate NFR-90 was the Anglo-Franco-Italian project “ori-zones” (“Horizon”). In 1993 between the governments of the three European countries signed an agreement to develop a multi-purpose vehicle corresponding to the concept of “stealth” and equipped with advanced missile weapons of the new generation. But then, as usual, between partners disagreement… In the end Britain came out of the joint programme and created his own project, traditionally related to a class of destroyers. However, construction is now “Daring” still strongly resembles its prototype “ori-zones”. It is only slightly bigger (total displacement of 7350 tons) carries a composition of artillery weapons and slightly different silhouette.
French and Italian frigates of the “horizon” is close in characteristics, but also differ in appearance. Their design process was delayed for nearly a decade, the entry into service of the first of the ships is not expected until 2006. Head frigate in France received the name “Farben”, Italy — “Bergamini”.
All new projects of the warships of the XXI century are clearly visible General trends — versatility, increased size, increased survivability and design life, low level of physical fields. Moreover, with regard to universality, that in this direction we should expect new original solutions. So, causes great interest “the first swallow” —the Danish multi-purpose amphibious assault ship “Absalon”, which entered into operation in 2004. It’s kind of “handy”, which combines the features of a purely combat frigate and a full-fledged amphibious vehicle. It is equipped with a premises area of about 1000 square meters for the Marines, with a ramp for unloading heavy equipment, a landing pad, a hangar for two helicopters EH-101 “Merlin” and two small landing boats. The weapons, radar equipment and the General architecture of the visual with the class frigates. And speed (23 knots) “Absalon” is not far behind from their purely military counterparts. In all likelihood, in the future, “Dane” appear followers is a particularly attractive idea “Tveruniversalbank” ship to poor countries.
Danish firstborn of a new subclass of the wagon fits well in the American concept of the so-called “littoral” warfare, involving the active operations of the fleet against the territory of the enemy with his own coastal waters. Recently, the United States started to design a new ship LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), also combines a shock frigate and landing ship. It should be noted that Americans during the six decades of the last frigates are not built at all — they were in favour of the bigger destroyers. It seems that this tradition will soon be broken: the Pentagon is making plans for the construction of 55 — 60 LCS ships with a displacement of about 3,000 tons each. However, what are these vessels is not clear yet — today there are several projects that are fundamentally dierent from each other on architecture and characteristics.
Well, at the end of the conversation about the future multi-purpose ships, not to mention the latest domestic developments. Alas, it immediately catches the eye is the main difference between our fighting ships from the West — their very small size. If the U.S. and NATO countries came to the conclusion that the universal surface ship of the new generation should have a displacement of at least 5,000 — 7,000 tons, the Russian Navy under the current financing the construction of such military units is obviously not affordable. Our fleet — contrary to global trends — we have to rely on ships much smaller in size and combat characteristics.
The first attempt to start serial construction of new patrol ships for the Russian Navy was made in 1997. Then the plant “Yantar” in Kaliningrad laid “Novik” — a multi-purpose patrol ship of project 12441 total displacement of about 2,900 tons But from this venture did not work out: the isolation of the Kaliningrad region of Russia led to the fact that the delivery of materials and equipment has risen many times. To build there military ships became uneconomical, and work on the “Novik” frozen, never really started.
In December 2001 at the Northern shipyard in St. Petersburg was laid of a new multipurpose ship Maritime zone “guarding” (project 20380). It was believed that he would become a head in a series of ten units. Paying tribute to fashion, the developers of the project called the patrol Corvette, although officially this class of ships in the Navy of Russia. In the guise of “Guarding” display all the modern trends of technology “stealth”, a low level of noise and vibration mechanisms, increased survivability, the introduction of new structural materials… Together with the relatively small size of the Corvette (full displacement of about 2000 tonnes) limit its combat capabilities, and unresolved financial problems threaten to transform the object into another unfinished. To date, there is two ships of project 20380, but the timing of their delivery to the fleet seem to be very vague.
Held in 2003 and 2005 at Saint-Petersburg international marine salons showed that Russia in the field of military shipbuilding remained high intellectual potential, and while our country has all chances to remain among the leading Maritime powers. It is hoped that these opportunities will not be missed.
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