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Netherlands outlines plan to replace air-defence frigates

Introduced between 2002 and 2005, the four De Zeven Provinciën-class ships are planned to remain in commission through to 2032–35. (US Navy)

The Netherlands government has set out plans to acquire a new class of air-defence frigates and associated integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capability to replace the Royal Netherlands Navy's (RNLN's) four De Zeven Provinciën-class air defence and command frigates (LCFs).

In a 1 March ‘A-letter' to the House of Representatives scoping the top-level requirement for a future maritime air-defence capability, State Secretary for Defence Christophe van der Maat outlined ambitions to replace the current LCFs one-for-one from the mid-2030s with an indigenously developed surface combatant and above-water combat system. A related decision on the anti-air missile system(s) to be integrated into the new ships will be made in 2025.

Entering service with the RNLN between 2002 and 2005, the De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates are being upgraded to sustain the operational capability well into the 2030s.

Alongside an upkeep programme, all four ships have received a maritime ballistic missile defence search-and-track capability based on the Thales SMART-L MM/N L-band long-range radar, an upgraded Guardion combat management system, and a new multilink processor.

Further updates in the pipeline include a new Leonardo 127/64 LW Vulcano medium-calibre gun, replacement of the Harpoon Block II surface-to-surface missile with the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM), integration of the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, and an upgraded electronic support measures system. The two youngest ships, HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Evertsen , will also receive the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) Block 2 point defence missile, the APAR Block 2 X-band multifunction radar, the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile system, and a new jammer.

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