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New Belgian frigates to have only 4 Mk41 missile launchers instead of 8.

| 2021

The Netherlands and Belgium are jointly replacing the current M-class frigates. Both countries will each receive two ASW Fregates. The intention was that these ships would be identical, but there will now be a (provisional) difference, Jaime Karremann reports on the Belgian ships will not be equipped with 16 launch cells for missiles, but with 8, the Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder announced on February 10.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001

The Belgian and Dutch new ship class will be called Anti-Submarine Warfare Frigate (ASWF). (Drawing source: Dutch MoD)

There is an increasing difference between the Dutch team and the Belgian team. Belgian minister of Defense Ludivine Dedonder stated that a "number of compromises" had been decided and that these choices "had no impact on the good relations within the cooperation between the Netherlands and Belgium", Jaime Karreman reports.

Dedonder cited only one example of a cut in the Belgian order: the vertical missile launcher. The frigates in the front part of the ship ('the barge') will have various weapon systems : behind the 76mm Sovraponte gun, there is room for two Mk41 vertical launchers. A Mk41 consists of 8 cells for missiles such as ESSM, SM-2, SM-3, etc. These are expected to be primarily intended for ESSM Block 2 missiles against medium-range air targets. Two of these Mk41s thus give the ship 16 launch cells. And because the ESSM missiles come in a pack of four in one cell, there is room for up to 64 ESSM missiles.

"For Belgium, one of the two launch systems has been designated as provisions for", Dedonder said. The Belgian ships will therefore not have two but one MK41 launcher, provisions will be made for the second, but it will not be purchased and not installed. Only in the event of "a possible changing future threat will the provisions for systems for Belgium be further elaborated in the future." The choice was made by Belgium to stay within the budget laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Netherlands and Belgium.

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