Philippines, US kick off Exercise ‘Balikatan' with debut of coastguard, French Navy ships

by Ridzwan Rahmat

Pilots from the French Navy surveillance frigate Vendémiaire (F734) practice landing aboard the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during an interoperability exercise. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, US 7th Fleet. (US Navy)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US military have begun the most complex iteration of Exercise ‘Balikatan', which is seeing the first-time participation of a French Navy warship and vessels from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

A ceremony to mark the start of the exercise was held on 22 April at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Philippines. Drills under the annual bilateral exercise will be held at various locations across the Philippines till 10 May.

“With over 16,000 service members participating across Luzon from today until 10 May, ‘Balikatan' 2024 is designed to address the ever-evolving security landscape in the region and is poised to be the most complex and comprehensive iteration to date,” reads a statement issued by the AFP on 22 April.

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Australia decommissions lead Anzac-class frigate

by Ridzwan Rahmat

HMAS Anzac seen here in the Sydney Harbour. The ship was decommissioned on 18 May 2024. (Janes/Russell Smith)

Australia has decommissioned its lead Anzac (MEKO 200)-class guided-missile frigate.

The vessel, which saw service with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as HMAS Anzac, was formally retired in a decommissioning ceremony on 18 May at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.

Prior to its decommissioning, Anzac was the longest-serving commissioned vessel in service with the RAN, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) noted in an 18 May statement to mark the retirement.

“Decommissioning HMAS Anzac will pave the way for the long-term investment in enlarging and enhancing [the] navy's fleet, in response to the recommendations made by the independent analysis of [the] navy's surface combatant fleet,” the statement added.

Anzac was commissioned by the RAN in May 1996 and is one of seven frigates in the class operated by the service.

The frigate displaces about 3,800 tonnes at full load and it has an overall length of 118 m, an overall beam of 14.8 m, and a hull draught of 4.5 m.

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Saab eyes potential procurement programmes in Canada

by Jeremiah Cushman

A model of the Saab GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft at Saab headquarters in Stockholm. (Janes/Jeremiah Cushman)

Saab has an extensive history in Canada, supplying the surveillance radar and fire-control system for Halifax-class frigates, Carl Gustaf anti-tank systems, and training and simulation systems to the Canadian Armed Forces. In February Canada chose Saab's RBS 70 NG (Next Generation) for its soldier-portable air-defence system (SPADS) programme, Simon Carroll, president of Saab Canada, told reporters at Saab headquarters in Stockholm on 13 May.

Canada is not as large a market as the neighbouring US but it is still important, Saab CEO Micael Johansson said on 13 May. The company is seeking to expand beyond its current offerings, focusing on land programmes for the short-to-medium term, and air and maritime projects over the medium-to-long term. There will also be investment to support Saab's global supply chain capability, he said.

Saab sees Canada as a good candidate for further growth given its similar strategic viewpoints. There is potential for a more reciprocal relationship that would be different from that with the US, which is much more protective, Johansson said.

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Germany launches third follow-on K130 corvette

by Michael Nitz

FGS Karlsruhe is the third of five follow-on K130 corvettes on order for the German Navy. (Michael Nitz, Naval Press Service)

The third follow-on Braunschweig (K130)-class corvette on order for the German Navy was launched at NV Lürssen (NVL) subsidiary Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg on 7 May, NVL Group announced the same day.

FGS Karlsruhe is the third boat of the second batch of five additional corvettes for the German Navy. The German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) ordered the five follow-on vessels from the ARGE K130 consortium, led by NVL Group and including thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (tkMS) and German Naval Yards Kiel (GNYK), under a contract worth more than EUR 2.2 billion (USD2.39 billion) in September 2017.

Following its launch, Karlsruhe will now enter the final outfitting phase. Its four sister ships, meanwhile, are at various stages of construction at Blohm+Voss's shipyard.

Due to information technology (IT) security challenges with the command and weapon control system the entire programme is running behind schedule. Originally all five second batch corvettes should already have been delivered to the customer.

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