De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate

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De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates
Class overview
Name: De Zeven Provinciën class
Builders: Royal Schelde, Vlissingen
Operators:  Royal Netherlands Navy
Preceded by: Tromp class
Cost: €600 million ($816 million)
In commission: 26 April 2002 – present
Completed: 4
Active: 4
General characteristics
Type: Air-defense and command frigate
Displacement: 6,050 tonnes (full load)
Length: 144.24 m (473.2 ft)
Beam: 18.80 m (61.7 ft)
Draught: 5.18 m (17.0 ft)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 30 officers, 202 ratings
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Thales Nederland SMART-L long-range air and surface surveillance radar
  • Thales Nederland APAR air and surface search, tracking and guidance radar (I band)
  • DECCA NAV navigation radar
  • Thales Nederland Scout (Low Probability of Intercept)surface search/navigation radar
  • Thales Nederland Sirius IRST long-range infrared surveillance and tracking system
  • Thales Nederland Mirador optical surveillance and tracking system
  • Atlas Elektronik DSQS-24C hull-mounted sonar
  • MK XII IFF system
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried: 1 × NH-90 helicopter
Aviation facilities: Hangar and flight deck for 1 medium sized helicopter

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 have been proven to be exceptional and 'best in class'. The classification of these ships as frigates is subject to debate given that due to their capabilities, these ships would in other navies be classified as destroyers.

Anti-air warfare[edit]

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.[1] 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.

Ballistic missile defence[edit]

The Koninklijke Marine is investigating the use of these ships for the role of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).[citation needed] During tests carried out by HNLMS Tromp in the Pacific ocean near Hawaii, experimental modifications to the SMART-L to allow even longer range were proven. A study by the Koninklijke Marine, the Netherlands Defence Material Organization, Thales Nederland, Raytheon Missile Systems, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Lockheed Martin has been conducted to establish the feasibility of modifying the De Zeven Provinciën class to provide it the capability to intercept ballistic missiles. In particular, the study examined the feasibility of integrating the SM-3 Block IB missile with the SMART-L and APAR radars. The study concluded that – with certain modifications to the SMART-L and APAR, as well as to the ship's Combat Management System and the missile itself – BMD with the De Zeven Provinciën class could be achieved.[2] During a 2015 very large NATO exercise the BMD capabilities were proven, the sensor suite discovered Ballistic targets and destroyed them using both own SAM missiles as well as using a US Destroyer's SAM weapons, providing target data and missile guidance.

A contract was awarded for the radar modification in June 2012, operational tests & life firing show the performance to exceed expectations.[3]


The De Zeven Provinciën-class ships will get the new SMART-L Mk2 radar that can detect ballistic missiles at a range of 2,000 km (1,200 mi). The Dutch minister promised also that the APAR radar will have a bigger range than 400 km (250 mi) as the Netherlands is the first country to participate as an active missile shield for NATO.[citation needed]

In late 2011, the Ministry of Defence announced a modernization program to upgrade the SMART-L early-warning radar so that De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates can detect and track ballistic missiles at extended range. Although there are no plans to acquire the BMD-capable SM-3 surface-to-air missiles, De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates can pass on the tracking and detection data to other sea-based or land-defense BMD assets, including U.S. Navy’s warships, that can deal with a ballistic missile threat. This modernization program is scheduled for completion by late 2017 for the entire De Zeven Provinciën class.[4]

Surface and subsurface warfare[edit]

As noted above, these ships were optimized for anti-air warfare, but they also have weapons on-board capable of attacking surface and submarine targets, for example: the RGM-84F Harpoon missile and Mk. 46 torpedoes.

Plans to equip some of the Zeven Provinciën-class frigates with a total of 32 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles have existed but these were shelved in May 2005.[5]

Live missile firings[edit]

In November 2003, some 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the Azores, the missile guidance capabilities were tested with live firings for the first time.[1] The firings involved the firing of a single ESSM and a single SM-2 Block IIIA. These firings were the first ever live firings involving a full-size ship-borne active electronically scanned array (i.e., APAR) guiding missiles using the ICWI technique in an operational environment.[6] As related by Jane's Navy International:

During the tracking and missile-firing tests, target profiles were provided by Greek-built EADS/3Sigma Iris PVK medium-range subsonic target drones. [...] According to the RNLN, ... APAR immediately acquired the missile and maintained track until destruction". [...] These ground-breaking tests represented the world's first live verification of the ICWI technique.[1]

HNLMS De Zeven Provincien (F802) outward bound from Portsmouth Naval Base, UK, on 21 September 2009.

Further live firings were performed in March 2005, again in the Atlantic Ocean some 180 nautical miles (330 km) west of the Azores.[1] The tests involved three live-firing events including firing a single SM-2 Block IIIA at an Iris target drone at long range, a single ESSM at an Iris target drone, and a two-salvo launch (with one salvo comprising two SM-2 Block IIIAs and the other comprising two ESSMs) against two incoming Iris target drones.[1] The long-range SM-2 engagement apparently resulted in an intercept at a range of greater than 100 km (62 mi) from the ship, with a missile-target miss distance of 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) (the warhead's proximity fuse having been disabled for the purposes of the test).[1]

Counter-piracy operations[edit]

Ships of the De Zeven Provinciën class have been involved in counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa. The untraditional target set (i.e., small slow-moving or even static surface targets) can apparently be challenging for doppler radars designed to take on "high end" threats. However, according to Jane's International Defence Review:

[The RNLN has] reported great success using tailored surface-search software for the APAR sets fitted to the De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates deployed on anti-piracy roles. By sacrificing some of APAR's high-end anti-air warfare capabilities, which were deemed unnecessary for the anti-piracy role, its performance and resolution were improved in the surface-search role.[7]

List of ships[edit]

Pennant number Name Namesake Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
F802 De Zeven Provinciën The seven provinces of the Union of Utrecht
Flagship of admiral de Ruyter
1 September 1998 8 April 2000 26 April 2002 In service
F803 Tromp Luitenant-Admiraal Maarten Tromp
Luitenant-Admiraal-Generaal Sir Cornelis Tromp, Bt
3 September 1999 7 April 2001 14 March 2003 In service
F804 De Ruyter Luitenant-Admiraal-Generaal Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter 1 September 2000 13 April 2002 22 April 2004 In service
F805 Evertsen Luitenant-Admiraal Johan Evertsen
Luitenant-Admiraal Cornelis Evertsen de Oude
Schout-bij-nacht Cornelis Evertsen de Jonge
Schout-bij-nacht Cornelis Evertsen de Jongste
3 September 2001 19 April 2003 10 June 2005 In service

All ships were built at Royal Schelde's shipyard in Vlissingen, Netherlands.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Jane's Navy International, October 2005, "Live firing tests rewrite the guiding principles"
  2. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly, 5 January 2011, "Aiming high"
  3. ^ "SMART-L For Smart Defense?"
  4. ^ Wertheim, Eric (January 2012). "Combat Fleets". Proceedings. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute: 90. ISSN 0041-798X. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  5. ^ Trouw, Laatste nieuws (Novum/ANP)| novum_laatstenieuws – Defensie ziet af van Tomahawks
  6. ^ Jane's International Defence Review, February 2004, "Active phased array multifunction radars go live for missile firings"
  7. ^ Jane's International Defence Review, September 2010, "Fighting the hydra: multinational piracy operations move inshore"

External links[edit]