Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Navy's Ambitions: New Frigates, Major Upgrades

Chile's Navy completed the renovation of its surface fleet in 2008, when it took delivery of the last of three Type 23 frigates purchased from Britain. Ten years later, the Navy is looking to start anew with replacements for its oldest warships. First on the list are the two L-Class air-defense frigates acquired from the Netherlands in 2004. The ships are armed with SM-1 and Sea Sparrow missiles capable of giving a naval task force a protective umbrella of up to 20 nautical miles. That's limited by modern standards. The SM-1 has been retired from US Navy service for nearly 15 years, and manufacturer Raytheon will stop providing support for the missile in two years. The ship hulls already are more than 30 years old. FFG-11 Capitan Prat and FFG-14 Almirante Latorre are set for retirement in 2025. As it did a decade ago, the Navy will consider building ships in its own shipyards. But second-hand ships likely will be cheaper and faster to procure. The more-immediate projects are the upgrades to the Type 23 frigates. This month, the first frigate is starting work that includes installing Lockheed Martin's CMS 330 combat management system, MBDA's CAMM anti-aircraft missiles, and the TRS-4D radar from Hensoldt. Also in January, the SS-20 Thomson undergoes a comprehensive refit that will extend the submarine's service life by about 10 years. Meanwhile, construction continues on the Fassmer-class offshore patrol vessels, with four of six ships already delivered.