Formidable class frigate

Formidable class frigate

The "Formidable class" multi-role stealth frigates are the latest platforms to enter into service with the Republic of Singapore Navy, and are multi-mission derivatives of the French Navy’s "La Fayette" class frigate. [cite web | title=Formidable Frigate | work=DCNS | url=http://www.dcn.fr/us/offre/batiments_surface/formidable.html | accessdate=2007-05-28] The frigates are key information nodes and fighting units, and are "“by far the most advanced surface combatants in Southeast Asia". [cite news | first=Wendell | last=Minnick | title=Singapore’s Navy Cruises Toward Blue-Water Force | work=Defence News |publisher=Army Times Publishing Company | date=2007-05-14 | accessdate=2007-05-29 ] The six ships form the 185 Squadron of the Navy.

History

The search for a replacement for the aging "Sea Wolf" class missile gunboats, which entered into service in 1972, started in the mid 1990s. The United States, Sweden and France participated in the bid for the contract. [cite news | first=Joo Lin | last=Tay | title=Formidable Voyage to Deliver First Stealth Frigate | work=The Straits Times | publisher=Singapore Press Holdings | date=2007-05-26 | accessdate=2007-05-29 ] In March 2000, the Singapore Ministry of Defence awarded the contract to DCNS for the design and construction of six frigates. A key feature of the contract was the technology transfer arrangement. Under the arrangement, DCNS was to design and build the first frigate in its Lorient yard in France while the remaining five frigates were to be built locally by Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine at its Benoi yard in Singapore. Subsequent maintenance and mid-life retrofit will be done by ST Marine.

Construction of the "Formidable" began in late 2002, when the keel was laid down in Lorient on November 2002.


Design & construction

Radar cross section (RCS) reduction features have been incorporated into the "Formidable" class design, with inclined hull sides and bulwarks as well as concealment of ship boats and replenishment-at-sea equipment behind low-RCS curtains. The "Formidable" class have a significantly reduced profile than the "La Fayette" class and its other derivatives, [cite web | title=DCNS - European Leader in Naval Defence | work=DCNS | url=http://www.dcns.fr/us/medias/docs/DP_Institutionnel2006_UK.pdf | accessdate=2007-05-29] due to the smaller superstructure and the use of enclosed sensor mast technology. [cite web | title=Surface Forces | work=Strategy Page | url=http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htsurf/articles/20040116.aspx | accessdate=2007-05-29] The frigate is also constructed entirely of steel, unlike the "La Fayette" class which makes extensive use of weight-saving composite structures in its aft superstructure block. [cite journal | last=Scott | first=Richard | year=2006 | month=April | title=Singapore Moves to Realise Its Formidable Ambitions | journal=Jane's Navy International | volume=111 | issue=4 | pages=42–49] The frigates also possess better sea keeping qualities and are able to stay at sea for longer periods of time. [cite web | title=Capabilities of the Frigate | work=MINDEF | url=http://www.mindef.gov.sg/weapons/frigate/capabilities.asp | accessdate=2007-05-28]

The frigates are equipped with the Thales Herakles phased-array multi-function radar, which provides three-dimensional surveillance for up to 250 kilometres. [cite web | title=Thales HERAKLES | work=Thales | url=http://www.thales-naval.com/naval/pdf/herakles1.pdf | accessdate=2007-05-28] The radar provides all-round automatic search & tracking of both air and surface targets, and is integrated with the MBDA Aster air defence system. [cite web | title=Combat Systems of the Frigate | work=MINDEF | url=http://www.mindef.gov.sg/weapons/frigate/combatsystems.asp | accessdate=2007-05-28] Utilising the DCNS Sylver vertical launch system, each frigate is capable of carrying 32 cells. [cite web | title=Formidable Class Multi-Mission Frigates, Singapore | work=Naval Technology | url=http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/formidable/ | accessdate=2007-05-28] It is reported that the frigates have a special surface-to-air missile configuration, combining the Thales Herakles radar with the Sylver A50 launcher and a mix of Aster 15 and 30 missiles. [cite web | title=Target acquisition - MAST highlights missile-defense concepts | work=Defence Technology International | url=http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aw/dti0108/index.php?startpage=38 | accessdate=2008-02-12]

The frigates are equipped with Boeing Harpoon missiles and Oto Melara 76 mm guns for surface defence. The Harpoon has a range of 117km and uses active radar guidance. It is armed with a 227 kg warhead. The gun fires 6 kg shells to a range of 16km at a firing rate up to 120 rounds per minute.

The frigates are also equipped with the EDO active low frequency towed sonar to enable long range submarine detection and classification, as well as Eurotorp A244/S Mod 3 lightweight torpedoes fired from two B515 triple-tube launchers hidden behind the bulwark.

The frigates will be equipped with Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters, an international derivative of the United States Navy SH-60B Seahawk. The Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in January 2005 to acquire six of these helicopters, which will be organic to the frigates. These naval helicopters are equipped with anti-surface and anti-submarine combat systems, extending the ship’s own surveillance and over-the-horizon targeting and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The naval helicopters will be raised as a squadron in the Republic of Singapore Air Force and piloted by air force pilots, but the system operators will be from the Navy. The naval helicopters are projected for delivery between 2008 and 2010. [cite web | title=Republic of Singapore Navy Acquires Six New Naval Helicopters | work=Sikorsky Corporation | url=http://www.sikorsky.com/news_archive/1,9591,CLI1_DIV69_ETI436_PID6002,00.html | accessdate=2005-01-26]

Network-centric warfare

The "Formidable" class frigates are key nodes within the Singapore Armed Forces' Integrated Knowledge-based Command and Control network, a concept similar to the United States Department of Defense's network-centric warfare doctrine. The locally-developed Combat Management System integrates all the sensors and weapon systems onboard, and a dual Fast Ethernet data transfer system forms the backbone of this system. [cite journal | last=Scott | first=Richard | year=2006 | month=April | title=Singapore Moves to Realise Its Formidable Ambitions | journal=Jane's Navy International | volume=111 | issue=4 | pages=42–49]

Each frigate has a span of influence that stretches up to about 200 nm, where it acts as the Navy's mobile operations centre out at sea and receives information from sister ships and aerial assets deployed within the range. The Combat Management System will then make sense of the different data, establish an accurate picture of the area of operations, and send the information back to shore and to its army and air force counterparts. [cite web | title=Frigates to Function as Ops Centre in Integrated Warfighting | work=MINDEF | url=http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/cyberpioneer/news/2007/May/07may07_news.html | accessdate=2007-05-29] This increases battlespace awareness and allows little time for the enemy to react due to the short sensor-to-shooter loops. [cite web | last=Wan | first=Gail | year=2007 | month=May | title=Heralding the New-Age Navy | journal=Pioneer | url=http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/cyberpioneer/features/2007/may07_cs.html | accessdate=2007-05-31]

ignificant milestones

RSS "Formidable" participated in Exercise Malabar 07-2 in September 2007, a Theater Security Cooperation engagement involving the navies of the United States, India, Australia, Japan and Singapore. [cite web | year=2007 | month=September | title=Kitty Hawk, Allies Complete Malabar Exercise | work=United States Navy | url=http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=31737 | accessdate=2008-04-12] [cite web | year=2007 | month=December | title=Statement by Admiral Gary Roughead Chief of Naval Operations Before The House Armed Services Committee On The Cooperative Strategy For 21st Century Seapower | work=United States Navy | url=http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/08489C1_Statement_13DEC07_HASC_CNO_Maritime_Strategy_final.pdf | accessdate=2008-04-12] The exercise involved more than 20,000 personnel on 28 ships and 150 aircraft, including the USS "Kitty Hawk" Carrier Strike Group. [cite web | year=2007 | month=September | title=Exercise Malabar 07-2 Kicks Off | work=United States Navy | url=http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=31691 | accessdate=2008-04-12]

RSS "Intrepid" conducted the navy's inaugural live firing of the French-made Aster 15 surface-to-air missile on 2 April 2008, off the French coast of Toulon. [cite web | year=2008 | month=Apr | title=Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean Witnesses Inaugural Aster Missile Live Firing | work=MINDEF | url=http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2008/apr/03apr08_nr.html | accessdate=2008-04-03] The frigate successfully shot down an aerial drone simulating an enemy target with an Aster missile. It was reported that the frigate sailed halfway round the world to test fire the Aster missiles due to the crowded air and sealanes around Singapore, plus the lack of an instrumented firing range needed by defence engineers to track and measure the performance of the Aster missile. [cite news | first=David | last=Boey | title=S'pore Navy's first surface-to-air missile firing a success | work=The Straits Times | publisher=Singapore Press Holdings | date=2008-04-03 | accessdate=2008-04-04]

RSS "Steadfast" participated in the world's largest multilateral naval exercise RIMPAC for the first time from 27 June to 31 July 2008, which involved 20,000 personnel from 10 countries operating over 35 ships, six submarines and over 150 aircraft. [cite web | year=2008 | month=July | title=RIMPAC Touted as Largest Maritime Exercise in World | work=United States Navy | url=http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=38312 | accessdate=2008-08-06] During this exercise, RSS "Steadfast" launched a Harpoon missile on a decommisioned USN warship on 14 July 2008 and also refueled at sea with a contingent of USN vessels. [cite web | year=2008 | month=July | title=Republic of Singapore Navy Participates in RIMPAC For First Time | work=Aviation Weekly - Ares | url=http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a0b070b45-b277-4885-b067-3192fdd4dd85&plckCommentSortOrder=TimeStampAscending | accessdate=2008-08-06] [cite web | year=2008 | month=July | title=Singapore Navy's Inaugural Participation in Rim of the Pacific Exercise | work=Ministry of Defence Singapore | url=http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080727994.htm | accessdate=2008-08-06] [cite web | year=2008 | month=July | title=Singapore warship makes mark in 10-nation drill | work=Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore | url=http://app.mfa.gov.sg/pr/read_content.asp?View,10719, | accessdate=2008-08-06] Participation in this exercise also validated the RSN's ability to conduct sustained sea operations. [cite journal | last=| first=| year=2008 | month=July | title=Singapore's Steadfast successfully fires Harpoon missile | journal=Jane's Defence Weekly | volume=| issue= | pages=]

Photo gallery

References

External links

* [http://www.mindef.gov.sg/weapons/frigate Offical frigate website, MINDEF]
*YouTube|66CpVxV2JFg|Video clip of RSS "Formidable" taking part in Malabar 2007


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