De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate – Netherlands

De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates are highly advanced air-defence and command frigates in service with the Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy). This class of ships is also known as LCF (Luchtverdedigings- en commandofregat, air defense and command frigate). The ships are similar to the German Sachsen-class frigates in role and mission. During international exercises performance of the sensor suite and weapons platform are exceptional and ‘best in class’.

Anti-air warfare

These ships were optimized for the anti-air warfare role. For this role the ships are equipped with an advanced sensor and weapons suite. The primary sensors for this role are the long range surveillance radar SMART-L and the multi-function radar APAR. The SMART-L and APAR are highly complementary, in the sense that SMART-L is a D band radar providing very long range surveillance while APAR is an I band radar providing precise target tracking, a highly capable horizon search capability, and missile guidance using the Interrupted Continuous Wave Illumination (ICWI) technique, thus allowing guidance of 32 semi-active radar homing missiles in flight simultaneously, including 16 in the terminal guidance phase. The primary anti-air weapons are the point defence Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and the area defence SM-2 Block IIIA. The Mk 41 Vertical Launch System is used to house and launch these missiles. 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and 32 SM-2 Block IIIA are carried.

Stealth-orientated frigate design

The design of the ship incorporates stealth features with an emphasis on the reduction of radar cross section, infrared, acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures.

Watertight compartments, insulation, redundancy of vital systems, power distribution, and routing, blast and fragmentation retaining structures provide a very high level of survivability against missile attack and fire hazards. For nuclear chemical and biological warfare protection the ship is subdivided into two gas citadels and a sub citadel.

SEWACO XI combat data command system

The ship is equipped with the SEWACO XI combat data system developed by Thales Naval Nederland. The RNIN’s Centre for the Automation of Weapon and Command Systems (CAWCS) has developed the software. The system will use asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) network architecture.

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The Rohde & Schwarz communications suite includes secure voice and data satellite communications, Link 11 and Link 16.

ESSM and SM2-MR block IIIA surface-to-air missile systems

The long-range surface-to-air missile system is the evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) developed by an international team led by Raytheon Missile Systems that has semi-active radar guidance with tail control motor to improve range, speed and manoeuvrability.

Evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) The ESSM anti-ship missile is powered by a high performance Mk 134 Mod 0 rocket motor dual-propellant propulsion system that develops high thrust. The motor can operate in temperatures ranging between -14°F to 133°F. The propulsion system provides the missile with a speed of over Mach 4 and a range of more than 50km. The rocket motor measures about 78.8in long, has a 10in diameter and weighs 167.8kg. It features D6AC steel design and incorporates an aramid-filled ethylene propylene diene monomer insulator, a blast tube nozzle, dual concentric hydroxyl-terminated polyether (HTPE) propellant, igniter, a solid-state laser initiation system and a thrust vector control system

The ship’s medium-range anti-air missile is the Raytheon Standard missile SM2-MR block IIIA. SM-2MR has a range of 70km, a speed of Mach 2.5 and has semi-active radar seeker and an Aegis radio command link.

Raytheon Standard missile SM2-MR block IIIA The Block III missiles differ from earlier blocks by the addition of the MK 45 MOD 9 target detecting device, for improved performance against low altitude targets.

Both ESSM and SM2 are fired from a 40-cell mk41 vertical launch system (VLS). The five octuple launchers are installed with the caps almost flush with the surface of the bow deck behind the main gun.

40-cell mk41 vertical launch system (VLS)

The Boeing Harpoon surface-to-surface missile system is installed on the raised deck immediately behind the main mast.

Harpoon surface-to-surface missile system Harpoon is a sea-skimming cruise missile designed for anti-ship use, which is made by Boeing. It features an active radar seeker head, and a 488-pound high explosive penetrating warhead. It uses a turbojet for cruise flight, and a solid propellant booster for launch. Maximum range is roughly 90 km at 855 km/ph. The Block II version, which should be available around 2002, will incorporate GPS guidance and improved software to enable the use of Harpoon in a littoral environment, and as a Land-Attack missile. The Harpoon missiles aboard the ADCF are packed into disposable launch containers. Four containers make up a single launch unit, of which the ADCF has two.

Harpoon is a medium-range missile with a range of 120km, a 220kg warhead and active radar terminal guidance.

In November 2005, RNLN announced plans to acquire 30 Tomahawk block IV (Tactical Tomahawk) land attack missiles were approved. However in May 2007, the planned procurement was cancelled.


The ship’s main gun on the bow deck is a 127mm / 54-calibre Oto Melara gun. Two Thales Naval Nederland Goalkeeper close-in weapon systems are installed, one on the raised deck in front of the main mast and one facing the stern on the raised deck overlooking the helicopter landing deck. Goalkeeper’s Gatling principle 30mm gun provides a maximum firing rate of 4,200 rounds a minute with a range of 1,500m.

image023 127mm / 54-calibre Oto Melara gun The 127mm Compatto fires 127mm shells that are compatible with the US 127m L/54 shells. The rate of fire is selectable between 10 and 45 rounds per minute. The gun may be used to engage shore targets, naval vessels and aerial targets including helicopters, subsonic aircraft and incoming missiles. The maximum range is 23 km versus surface targets and 8.6 km versus aerial targets. Below deck there are three ammunition carousels holding 22 rounds each. Depending on the design 500 to 600 additional rounds are stored elsewhere in the ship.Two Thales Naval Nederland Goalkeeper close-in weapon systems The GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm Gatling gun, as used by the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, was selected for the system. The 30 mm round has a greater mass than the M61 Vulcanused in the Phalanx CIWS, so it provides much greater destructive power with similar muzzle velocity but significantly reduced range.  The tracking radar is capable of monitoring the line of fire and commanding minor adjustments. Supersonic missiles that are damaged may still have enough momentum to hit the ship—the only way to ensure the protection of the ship is either to detonate the warhead of the missile or obliterate the missile. The system’s reaction time to a Mach 2 sea-skimming missile such as the Russian SS-N-22 Sunburn from automatic detection to kill is reported to be 5.5 seconds with the firing synchronized to start the engagement at a range of 1,500 m and ending with a kill at 300 m.

Two close-in Oerlikon 20mm machine guns are installed, one to port and one to starboard of the main mast.

Oerlikon 20mm machine guns2-4 × Browning M2 12.7mm machine gunsimages4-6 × FN MAG 7.62mm machine guns

Twin mk32 mod 9 323mm torpedo launchers

Two mk32 mod 9 323mm twin torpedo launchers are fitted one on each side of the ship at about two-thirds the length of the ship from the bow. 24 mk46 mod 5 torpedoes are stored in the ship’s magazine.

De Zeven Provincien Class countermeasures

The frigates are fitted with the Thales Defence Sabre integrated electronic warfare system which includes a 0.5GHz to 18GHz electronic support measures (ESM) system and a 7.5GHz to 18GHz active phased-array electronic countermeasures (ECM) system.

The ship has four launchers for the SRBOC (super rapid blooming off-board countermeasures) decoy system from Lockheed Martin Sippican.

SRBOC (super rapid blooming off-board countermeasures) decoy system

The towed torpedo decoy is the Argon ST (formerly Sensytech) AN/SLQ-25 Nixie.

Towed torpedo decoy is the Argon ST (formerly Sensytech) AN/SLQ-25 Nixie. This is the Torpedo Countermeasures Transmitting Set AN/SLQ-25A, better known as ‘Nixie’. It is a decoy, which is towed behind the ship on a Fiber Optic Tow Cable. A signal, which has been generated inside the ship, is emitted by the decoy, which ‘lures’ an acoustic homing torpedo away, by making it believe that the decoy is the ship it is chasing. Theoretically the Nixie should be able to be deployed anywhere between 10 to 25 knots, but practice has shown that at speeds exceeding 15 knots reeling the decoy in or out might damage the towing cable.

Helicopters and flight deck

There is a 27m flight deck at the stern of the ship and a hangar with accommodation for a single helicopter such as the AgustaWestland Lynx of the Royal Netherlands Navy, or the 10t NH90 naval helicopter which entered service in 2010.

NH90 naval helicopter

The deck is fitted with the DCN Samahe helicopter handling system which allows deployment and recovery of the Lynx or NH90 helicopter in high sea states. The ship’s helicopter direction system is the VESTA.

Sensor systems

The ship’s radar suite was supplied by Thales Naval Nederland. The Smart-L three dimensional radar operating in D band provides air search. APAR (active phased array radar) provides air and surface search and weapon fire control. APAR is a multi-function radar operating at X-band. It provides target search and tracking and guidance for the Standard missile 2. The Scout LPI (low probability of intercept) radar operating at I band provides surface search. There is also a mkXII identification friend or foe (IFF) radar.

APAR (active phased array radar) The APAR (Active Phased Array Radar) by Thales contains four active phased array antennas with 3200 modules each, which together provide a 360 degrees azimuth coverage. Some other features of the system are multi-function capability, digital Doppler processing, digital pulse compression techniques, graceful degradation and flexible waveform generation. APAR operates in I/J-band, which makes the radar an excellent sensor for the detection of sea-skimming missiles. The APAR system has one main waveform generator, plus two additional waveform generators to provide missile guidance links and target illumination in the terminal phase of engagement. Each array can generate up to four beams for 16 simultaneous engagements and 30 SM-2 and ESSM missiles in the air. Instrumented range is 150km in air search and 75km horizon search with elevation coverage up to 70 degrees and a capacity to handle 250 tracks.Smart-L three dimensional radar This is a volume-search early warning long-range air search radar, which has been designed by Thales. It is a derivative of the smaller SMART-S, using an LW-09 solid-state transmitter. It uses an 8.2m electronically stabilized antenna scanning at 12 rpm to an elevation of 70 degrees. SMART-L provides range, bearing, elevation, and target velocity on each scan. Low observable targets can be detected at 55km and a conventional target beyond 100km. Maximum instrumented range is 400km. The ADT track file can carry up to 1000 air, 40 surface and 32 jammer tracks simultaneously. SMART-L is integrated with the Scout radar for surface surveillance.

In April 2006, the Dutch government placed an order for four Thales Naval Nederland Sirius LR-IRST long-range dual-band infrared search and track systems for the vessels. Sirius was installed on top of the mast tower. The system provides horizon search capability against sea-skimming missiles. Thales Mirador electro-optic surface surveillance system is also fitted.

Thales Naval Nederland Sirius LR-IRST long-range dual-band infrared search and track systems This is a high-powered Infra Red surveillance system. It is very useful for locating sea-skimming missiles. It is designed and build by Thales. Sirius is a dual-band IR detection and tracking sensor with an 8-12 micron and a 3-5 micron IR camera on a pedestal. The former has a window which elevates to 14 degrees and the latter a window which elevates to 3 degrees. Scan rate is 53 rpm and an airplane can be detected at up to 15km, a missile at up to 12km. The system can carry over 500 tracks and provides automatic alerts on the 32 most threatening tracks with a false alarm rate of less than 1/hr. SIRIUS provides data directly to the SEWACO Combat Data System as digital data to the databus and video to the video bus. Each band can be processed separately providing three different outputs – each band individually or a combined output.

In June 2012, Thales Nederland was awarded a contract to modify four SMART-L volume search radars aboard the frigates. The new radar will detect and track the trajectory of ballistic missiles.

Thales Mirador electro-optic surface surveillance system This is a high-powered Optical and Infra Red surveillance system. Mounted on the APAR mast, it is designed and build by Thales. Unlike Sirius, which is an IR-only system which functions in a continuous scanning mode, Mirador is a combined Optical/IR system, which will be used to help the crew to detect, identify and observe targets. The main sensor of the Mirador is the ALBATROSS infrared camera, which is a 3rd generation Focal Plane Array camera made by Thales. The Mirador array will be fully integrated into the SEWACO system, and can be used to provide targeting data to the system. Mirador can operate in a air search mode and in a automatic tracking mode, as well as be directed to observe targets from any workstation on the bridge and C&C. Mirador has been mainly added to the ADCF to improve target acquisition and recognition during brown water operations, but will also be of help with navigational tasks, especially in bad weather conditions when visibility is poor.

The ship’s sonar system is the Atlas Elektronik DSQS-24C hull-mounted search and attack sonar.

CODOG propulsion system and engines

The ship’s combined diesel or gas (CODOG) propulsion system has two independent propulsion lines. The two Rolls-Royce Spey SM1C gas turbine engines each provide 18.5MW. Two cruise diesel engines, Stork-Wartsila 16 V26, provide 8.4MW.

Two Rolls-Royce Spey SM1C gas turbine engines each provide 18.5MW

The two gearboxes are installed in a separate transmission room. The ship has two controllable-pitch propellers and two rudders with rudder roll stabilisation.

The maximum ship speed is 30kt and the cruise speed is 18kt. The range is 5,000 miles at 18kt.

Length: 144,24 meters, over all

Beam: 18,80 meters, max. / 17,15 meters at waterline;

Draft: 5,18 meters

Displacement: 6050 tons (full load)

Propulsion: CODOG (Combined Diesel or Gas)

2 Rolls Royce Spey SM1C gas turbines (52300 shp);

2 Stork-Wartsila 16V6ST diesel engines (13600 hp)

2 shafts; 2 controllable pitch propellers (CPP);

2 rudders with rudder roll stabilisation;

Speed: 29 knots, boost; cruise at 18 knots;

Crew: 202

Aviation/Hangar: flight deck (27 x 18,80 meters) and hangar for 1 helicopter – (Agusta-Westland SH-14D Lynx / or NH-Industries NH-90 naval helicopter);


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