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Hellenic Navy chooses thyssenkrupp and Thales consortium to modernize MEKO 200 HN frigates.

| Naval News Navy 2024

On January 24, 2024, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems announced a collaboration with Thales for a frigate modernization program aimed at extending the operational lifespan of four Meko 200 HN frigates that have been serving the Hellenic Navy since the mid-1990s.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The HS Hydra is the first Meko 200 frigate delivered to the Hellenic Navy in October 1992 (Picture source: Hellenic Navy)

Thales and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems have formed a consortium to oversee this program, with both partners signing an agreement on December 12, 2023. Under this consortium, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems will be responsible for modernizing the ship's platform and providing design documents and communication systems. The subcontracting for communication systems will be awarded to Hagenuk Marinekommunikation, a subsidiary of Atlas Elektronik. Thales will supply the combat system, using the combat management system TACTICOS as its foundation, and acting as the consortium's spokesperson from their base in Hengelo, the Netherlands.

To execute the ship platform modifications, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems plans to subcontract the work to a local Greek shipyard. The consortium will serve as the exclusive point of contact for the Hellenic Navy, with expectations of receiving the order for the modernization program in 2024.

This endeavor aligns with the Hellenic Navy's broader goal of enhancing the capabilities of its MEKO 200 frigates, part of the Hydra class, consisting of HS Hydra (F 452), HS Spetsai (F 453), HS Psara (F 454), and HS Salamis (F 455). These frigates, originally designed in Germany as part of the MEKO group of modular warships, have been in service since the mid-1990s.

The program's history dates back to 1988 when it was initiated with partial funding through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aid, aiming to construct six vessels. The first Hydra-class ship, HS Hydra, was commissioned in 1992, with the remaining vessels experiencing delays due to financial constraints and the acquisition of Dutch Kortenaer-class frigates.

In 2007, an upgrade to the STIR fire control system enabled the firing of RIM-162 ESSM surface-to-air missiles. The first upgraded vessel, Salamis, completed a live firing test in August 2008, followed by the remaining three ships.

Although Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos announced the modernization of the four vessels in 2018, details were scarce at the time. The Joint Chiefs of General Staff Council (ΣΑΓΕ) decided to commence the modernization program in May 2019, and it was finally approved by the Greek Parliament in April 2023.

The Hydra-class frigates have a standard displacement of 3,360 tons, increasing to 4,000 tons when fully loaded. They measure 117.5 meters in length, with a beam of 14.8 meters and a draught of 6.0 meters. Propulsion is provided by two-shaft CODOG with controllable pitch propellers, two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, and two MTU 20V 956 diesel engines, allowing them to reach speeds of up to 31 knots with gas turbines and 21 knots when operating on diesel engines alone.

Equipped with various sensors and processing systems, including air search and surface radars, Racal Decca navigation radar, and Raytheon sonar systems, these frigates are also armed with a range of weaponry. These include a Mk 45 Mod 2A 5" gun, Harpoon missile launchers, and a vertical launcher for ESSM missiles. Additionally, they feature a hangar capable of housing a Sikorsky S-70B-6 Aegean Hawk helicopter.

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