According to Xavier Vavasseur, Editor in Chief, Navy Recognition, at IndoDefence 2018, the tri service defense exposition currently held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dutch shipbuilding group Damen unveiled the new 6,000 tons class «Omega» Frigate design.
Bob De Smedt, one of the naval architects who worked on the Omega project, explained that the scale model on display is representative of an early concept for the future Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine) and Belgian Navy (Marine component/Composante marine) M Frigate replacement. However, the main reason the new Omega class of frigates was unveiled at IndoDefence (and not Euronaval for example which was held two weeks ago) is because Damen is now ready to answer Indonesia’s potential need for a large frigate (hence the «FFI» name on a Damen image, standing for Future Frigate Indonesia).
Omega is actually set to be a new family or product line by Damen, that will come in addition to (and above) the famous Sigma product line. The main difference however is that there will be no «standard Omega lines»: Omega designs will always be fully tailored to customer requirements.
For this reason, a future Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) Omega frigate design is likely to look different to the future M Frigate replacement, unless Indonesia is willing and able to team up with the Dutch and Belgian order. The Netherlands and Belgium are jointly procuring four frigates (two each) to replace their M frigates. Navy Recognition learned from various sources during IndoDefence that TNI AL has an «emerging need» for a 6,000 tons class of frigates as a follow on to its third and fourth PKR frigates (also a Damen design, of the Sigma family).
While this design could be proposed to other navies (New Zealand comes to mind), Damen stressed that this is not the design they are offering for Germany’s MKS 180. Damen could not elaborate further about MKS 180.
Damen explained that the Omega/FFI frigate is based on the proven Air Defence Command Frigates (LCF)/De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate hull form. The vessel features a hybrid propulsion system consisting of 4 × diesel engines (two can be used for economic speed, four for sprint) plus 2 × electric engines. The diesel engines are separated forward and aft for increased survivability. Power generation aboard the ship takes into account future weapon systems such as directed energy weapons.
The Omega frigate features two large multi mission bays: one amidship and one at the stern. As is the trend with latest generation frigates (Type 26 and FTI/Belharra) the midship multimission bay goes across from port to starboard sides with an overhead handling system to load and move containers or launch and recover Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) or Unmanned Surface Vehicles/Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (USVs/UUVs). The midship multimission bay is large enough to accommodate up to 4 × 20-foot containers and the stern multmission bay can accommodate 2 × 20-foot containers. Note that there is an additional space on the upper deck, next to the anti-ship missile launchers for 2 × additional containers.
The futuristic looking (almost Zumwalt-eske) topside of the Omega Frigate is mainly due to the new generation radar suite provided by Thales: Boudewijn Geerink from Thales Netherlands told Navy Recognition at Indodefence 2018 that it is the new S/X suite consisting of the SeaMaster 400 fixed panel S-band radar suite and the Active Phased Array multifunction Radar (APAR) Block 2 X-band multi-function radar, both using gallium nitride technology. According to Thales, the new fixed panel S-band radar solution is the right answer to counter threats posed by airborne or surface drones, precision-guided munitions, or submarine-fired pop-up missiles, typically attacking just above the sea surface (low elevation, sea skimming) or from high elevation angles (high diving). APAR Block 2 defends against saturation attacks in the highest threat scenarios by supporting many simultaneous Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) engagements with both active and semi-active guidance using Interrupted Continuous Wave Illumination (ICWI). Thales SeaMaster 400 offers a range of 450 km/280 miles/243 NM while APAR Block 2 can replace illuminators to directly provide guidance for Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) and Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) missiles.
Omega frigate is also available with different radar configurations. A version fitted with a rotating radar (such as the Thales NS200) is also being pitched by Damen.
The weapons and sensor suite depend on customers’ requirements as usual. However, the scale model on display at Indodefence shows the Omega frigate fitted with a 127-mm main gun by Leonardo, a 76-mm secondary gun (non-penetrating variant) by Leonardo on top of the helicopter hangar, a Rheinmetall Millenium Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 × Leonardo Hitrole remote weapon stations, 8 × Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) anti-ship missiles, 4 × Rheinmetall Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) decoy launchers, a Thales Kingklip hull mounted sonar and a Captas-4 variable depth sonar, 4 × satellite link antennas and 2 × Thales Mirador Electro-Optical (EO) systems. For air defense, the scale model shows 24 × Vertical Launching System (VLS) cells (likely VL MICA NG for Indonesia or ESSM Block 2 for Netherlands and Belgium).
|Length||144 m/474.4 feet|
|Breadth||18.8 m/61.68 feet|
|Maximum speed||29 knots/33.4 mph/53.7 km/h|
|Range||5,000 NM/5,754 miles/9,260 km @ 18 knots/20.7 mph/33.3 km/h|
|Endurance||30 days at sea|
|Stabilisation||Rudder roll (similar to LCF)|
|Crew||122 sailors (accommodations for up to 160)|
|Storage space for 3 × 12 meters RHIBs|
|Hangar space for 2 × medium lift helicopters and/or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)|