During the first decades of the XNUMXst century, the navies of European countries made a breakthrough to nowhere.
The number of ridiculous and absurd projects like the German F125, the Danish Absalon, or the American LCS exceeded all reasonable limits. A sign of a warship is increasingly missing weapons on board.
If the tasks of modern Navy really come down only to participation in police and humanitarian operations, then you should go all the way and rename the naval forces in the fleet of the Ministry of Emergencies.
If we take the defense budget cut as our main task, then the Zamvolt will shine as a guiding star. The mountain of promises that gave birth to the mouse.
But any rule is not without exception.
Among the unarmed destroyers and “messengers” armed with rubber boats, there are a number of units that demonstrate a completely different level of capabilities.
A striking example is the series of missile / command frigates "De Zeven Provinsien" from the Netherlands Navy.
The appearance of the “Seven Provinces” in conditions when the very possibility of a naval conflict with a developed enemy is denied is like magic.
And the point of view of the domestic Navy, the Dutch project is generally a standard. Its concept should be the basis for creating a project for a promising next-generation destroyer (Leader).
To many, this statement seems debatable. To understand what it is about, you need to properly understand the situation.
Why are frigates and destroyers being built?
Nowadays, when small missile ships have demonstrated the ability to strike thousands of kilometers away and have taken the good half of Europe "at gunpoint", many have a logical question. Why spend money on building larger ships?
A large ship is a lot of weapons. Good seaworthiness. Long range.
This is true, but only in part.
A lot of weapons ... But what class and purpose? The number of strike weapons at the frigate Admiral Gorshkov and the Karakurt RTO differs only in half (16 instead of 8 Caliber cruise missiles) with sevenfold difference in displacement.
Sufficient seaworthiness in the open ocean is also provided at much smaller sizes than those possessed by modern frigates and destroyers.
With a displacement of 6000 tons, the frigate is much more in size with light cruisers (Kuma, Nagara, Dido) than war destroyers (Fletcher, only 2500 tons).
Ensuring seaworthiness and autonomy is not a sufficient explanation of the size of surface ships, which in our time are usually classified as frigates and destroyers.
For all the importance of the above parameters, when it comes to thousands of tons of displacement, seaworthiness, autonomy and the number of “Caliber” on board fade into the background.
Displacement of surface ships is most dependent on the quantity, quality and height of the antenna posts
In other words, to deploy radar systems that can detect and fire aerial targets at distances of hundreds of kilometers, a ship of significant size is required.
"Caliber" can arm any RTOs. But to deploy a zonal air defense system, a larger platform is needed at times. At the same time, the radars should be as high as possible, ideally - at an altitude of 25 or more meters from the level of the waterline. It turns out a ship the height of a nine-story house!
The main role of frigates and destroyers of the XNUMXst century is to provide air defense of naval formations. All other tasks of the Navy can be confidently performed by ships of other classes, both smaller in size and superior to the frigate, but having a significantly lower cost.
As the example of “De Zeven Provincien” shows, to deploy a full-fledged air defense / missile defense system, a ship with a total displacement of at least 6000 tons is required.
Its main radar is at the top of the foremast. APAR antenna post with four active phased arrays, created by the Dutch branch of Thales Group. The anti-aircraft fire control complex provides tracking of 200 target tracks and control of 32 fired missiles, with the possibility of illuminating 16 targets. Whether these values correspond to any chosen direction or whether they should be divided into four (by the number of antennas with a 90 ° field of view) is not reported. In any case, the four targets fired from one direction are more than most of his peers could.
The second radar with a black rectangular antenna is designated SMART-L. It also uses AFAR technology.
The power and range of operation of SMART-L are selected from its main task - a long-range radar, whose area of responsibility extends from the troposphere to near-Earth outer space. He is able to track targets at distances up to 2000 km. This is nothing like a missile defense station.
In 2015, in the Pacific Ocean, during a regular missile defense exercise, the Dutch frigate provided target designation for US Navy ships. Focusing on his data, the Americans launched their Standard-3 interceptor missiles. It is indicated that the frigate’s capabilities "exceeded all expectations."
This function is reflected in the appointment of the “Seven Provinces” - the command frigate air defense. No one commands the invading armies from his bridge. The frigate's task is to distribute air targets between the ships of the formation and, if possible, destroy them with their weapons.
The next feature needed to be mentioned earlier when it came to the need for large surface ships.
To ensure the operation of a radar of such power, energy is needed. A lot of energy.
Four Finnish Värtsilä V12 diesel generators provide De Zeven Provinsien with an electric power of 6,6 MW.
For comparison: the Sheffield type destroyer (4300 tons, 1970) had four diesel generators on board with a total capacity of only 1 MW.
Created in the late 80's. The destroyer Arly Burke was equipped with three gas turbine generators with a total capacity of 7,5 MW. This is only 15% higher than the “De Zeven Provinsien”, which is inferior to the destroyer in terms of displacement by as much as 40%.
But as you know, the ship can not be estimated only by size. The Dutch frigate is a combat vehicle pierced by energy flows. Emitting hard quanta into the surrounding space.
The combined power unit of the frigate consists of two 26-cylinder cruising diesel engines manufactured by Wärtsilä and two British gas turbines Rolls-Royce Spray. Their combined work provides a speed of 28 knots (according to other sources, 30 knots).
Like other Western ships, the frigate was not spared "European values". The design possibilities of the “Seven Provinces” allowed clearly more than the political ambitions of the Netherlands.
The frigate was artificially reduced in armament - it was decided to abandon part of the rocket launchers. Therefore, instead of the sixth section of the UVP, a patch “gapes” on the deck.
Ammunition is limited to 40 UVP cells. In the calculated version, it consists of 32 Standard-2 long-range anti-aircraft missiles and 32 ESSM short / medium-range missiles, four in one cell.
The possibility of equipping De Zeven Provinsien with Standard-3 atmospheric kinetic interceptors is being considered.
And the modernization of its "medium caliber" can already be considered a settled issue. The former medium-range missiles will be replaced by the Block-2 ESSM with active guidance heads.
The third and final argument in resolving air defense issues is the Goalkeeper. The most powerful seven-barreled artillery system, similar to the 30-mm gun of the A-10 attack aircraft. “Goalkeeper” - perhaps the best development in the field of active defense of ships in the near zone. The complex has been in service with the Netherlands Navy since 1980.
Initially, it was assumed that there would be two “Goalkeepers” to ensure a closed air defense circuit. In practice, due to the economy, the frigate was left with only one automatic anti-aircraft gun covering the aft corners.
The dimensions of the air defense frigate allow moderately versatile by ship.
His 127-mm artillery is the Italian licensed Oto Melara installation, which the Dutch purchased to dismantle decommissioned Canadian frigates. It is planned to replace it with modern artillery systems of the same caliber.
Eight anti-ship “Harpoons” are also planned to be replaced with new-generation small-sized anti-ship missiles (probably the Norwegian NSM).
On board there is a multi-purpose helicopter, a sonar sonar station and the MK46 anti-submarine weapon system (324-mm torpedoes of the American production).
The ship is equipped with a pair of all-angle optical detection systems, including for operation in the thermal range. The countermeasures include two French electronic warfare systems, the American SRBOC complex for setting curtains from dipole reflectors and a towed anti-torpedo rattle (Nixie).
The approximate number of crew is 230 people.
Common sense dictates: this is exactly what a modern missile frigate (destroyer) should have
The most expensive and technically rich class of surface warships of the XNUMXst century, with the exception of nuclear supercarriers
A series of four frigates, De Zeven Provincien, did not aim to create the very best ship. And those frigates were never such.
There are even more powerful and sophisticated air defense ships - the British destroyers Type 45 Dering, so expensive that they are made of gold.
The Americans are pushing with all their strength to build the eighth dozen "Arly Berkov" - whoppers with 90 rocket launchers. Which, however, do not have that superiority in the near air defense due to the lack of an APAR analogue.
Strictly speaking, De Zeven Provincien is not one such. He is closely related to the German Saxony-class air defense frigates and the Danish frigates of the Iver Hütfeld type. All are equipped with the same radar system (APAR + SMART-L), but have a different hull design, power plant and differ in the composition of weapons.
At the same time, Iver Hutfeld is 10 years newer and more advanced on a number of secondary issues.
The following illustration shows the Danish Peter Willemos, built in 2009-2011. Handsome man! In the aft part of the superstructure, a 35-mm anti-aircraft “Oerlikon” is visible, firing with programmable shells. The impression of the project is spoiled by two launchers of different sizes. As a result, the flexibility of using weapons that is characteristic of the Dutch frigates is not achieved. Plus pointless 76 mm caliber artillery.
With all due respect to similar designs, none of the creators of surface ships of the 1st rank of our time could achieve the remarkable balance of characteristics that was achieved in the project “De Zeven Provinsien”.
The Dutch frigate cannot be repeated in our conditions. And here is no negative connotation
Studying the design itself, which is an international "vinaigrette", does not give anything that could be of value to the Russian Navy.
For us, neither technical solutions nor the methods used in the design and construction of De Zeven Provinsien are of interest.
He was not threatened by any sanctions or fears related to components of foreign manufacture. The Netherlands could count on help and cooperation with European countries and the United States. After all, a little friend is always convenient to pat on the shoulder.
Therefore, one should not be surprised at the pace of construction: less than four years from the moment of laying to commissioning.
The mentioned air defense complex, the main element of the frigate, was created not only in the interests of the Dutch fleet. The other elements of the De Zeven Provinsien also represented proven solutions that had been used on ships of Western nations for decades.
In this sense, we have nothing to borrow from the Dutch.
The only thing to follow is the understanding of the situation itself: why a large surface ship is needed.
The Dutch in practice embodied the idea of an outstanding air defense ship. And for nothing, a frigate of this size is not needed
In a less categorical form, this idea can be formulated in a different way: all the rest of the functional (means of anti-aircraft defense, Caliber, helicopter) will inevitably be present on board a ship of such large sizes. As a reasonable supplement.
The main thing is not to get involved and not to build another monster.
The creators of the domestic frigate of project 22350 (the lead one is Admiral Gorshkov) generally share this point of view.
The key difference between Gorshkov and other Caliber carriers is the “pyramid” in the bow of the superstructure, which soared 25 meters above the waves. A radar complex is located there, consisting of two radars, short-range and general detection.
And somewhere far below, under the deck, covered with waterproof covers, the fairings of 32 Redut anti-aircraft missiles glimmer dimly ...
Concerning News about the development and planned laying of the destroyer "Leader", then I was always amazed at the voiced values of its displacement. 18, 20 and even 30 thousand tons!
In what century are those who believe that the destroyer should have such dimensions?
Twenty years ago, a frigate with a total displacement of 6050 tons was enough to accommodate the most bulky existing weapon for surface ships (long-range air defense systems with air defense / missile defense radars) and a full range of auxiliary weapons.