German combat ship

The German Navy plans the MKS 180 multi-purpose combat ship as an all-rounder. Mission modules will cover a wide range of missions – with superiority in naval combat the ultimate aim.

Multi-purpose combat ship 180: Concept graphic of the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Equipment of the Bundeswehr (Bundeswehr image)
Multi-purpose combat ship 180: Concept graphic of the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Equipment of the Bundeswehr (Bundeswehr image)

The MKS 180 will be an all-purpose weapon. Built-in modules designed for specific military missions will make this possible. These mission modules are at the heart of what «multipurpose combat ship» means in practice.

This modularity is the consequence of both the experience that the Bundeswehr now has with stabilization operations for conflict prevention and crisis management, some of which have lasted for years, as well as the requirements of a national and alliance defense in Europe.

The ship should be able to patrol large sea areas for a long time all over the world, monitor embargoes and, if necessary, evacuate German citizens from crisis situations, in the North Atlantic or the Mediterranean and, if necessary, engage in naval combat against other warships of its kind or underwater. No other single ship type can fulfill such a wide range of tasks so far.

The basic version of the MKS is already a full-fledged combat ship. Interchangeable components supplement this core capability and then adapt the ship for specialist missions. Two such mission modules are currently planned: one for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and one for custody module.

 

Self-defense and combat missions:

  • Creation of a maritime picture above and under water;
  • Maritime surveillance and embargo control, including boarding;
  • Military evacuation in crisis situations;
  • Escort for merchant ships;
  • Leadership of naval task forces;
  • Flexibility thanks to modular system.

The mission ASW module turns the MKS a dedicated submarine hunter. With onboard helicopters and their own sonars – in conjunction with the sensors of allied reconnaissance aircraft and submarines – the ship can secure a large sea area against dangers from the depths.

The custody module turns the MKS into a floating base for anti-piracy missions. Multiple cell rooms allow persons to be temporarily detained; An additional sanitary station makes medical examinations possible under quarantine conditions.

In addition to these two, the Navy plans more modules. One of them is equipped with a diving chamber and other special equipment for mine hunting.

The accommodation of the mission modules is divided into three areas in the ship. A so-called flex deck is located below the flight deck at the stern. Using an external crane, it can be equipped from the top through a hatch. Two additional flex decks are located approximately halfway along the length of the superstructure and can be accessed by an onboard multi-purpose container crane.

The Navy demands from the future shipbuilder that the replacement and commissioning of the modules can be carried out as quickly as possible and worldwide, without interfering with the ship’s structure and without a shipyard. In addition, the modules must withstand the climatic and oceanographic conditions that prevail in their respective field of application. Thus, the MKS will be able to travel in the tropics as well as possess an ice class to navigate polar waters.

 

Essential characteristics:

  • Medium- and short-range anti-aircraft missiles;
  • Long-range anti-ship missiles;
  • Main gun 127-mm with extended-range ammunition;
  • Water cannons, heavy machine guns, marine light guns;
  • Utility boats, reconnaissance drones, ASW helicopters;
  • Modularity needs space.

The modularity of the MKS has several advantages: Unused mission modules can be stored and maintained independently of their ship application platform. The modules do not have to be procured for each ship and can also be purchased independently, at other times. In case of changed operating conditions and technological advances, only the module needs to be modernized, and the standardized interfaces on board allow the development and insertion of new modules.

The size of the MKS ships is very impressive, compared to previous ships of the German Navy, notably because they need, among other things, enough space for the different modules.

The marine architects calculate a length of around 508.5 feet/155 meters for the MKS and a displacement of up to 9,000 tons of water. For comparison, the frigates of the «Baden-Württemberg» class are a good five meters shorter and nearly 2,000 tons smaller. And even these frigates are almost twice as large as the frigates of the «Bremen» class.

Compared to the frigates of the «Baden-Württemberg» class, which the Navy will put into service beginning this year, the MKS will adopt some features – above all automation and low maintenance of the technical equipment as well as the multi-crew concept.

This will also allow these new ships to remain in service for up to two years, while the crew of around 110 will rotate every four months. In addition to this regular crew, up to 70 people can be accommodated in the mission modules.

 

Characteristics

Length approximately 508.5 feet/155 meters at waterline
Displacement maximum 9,000 tonnes
Accommodation 110-person crew, 70 passengers
Operating endurance 24 months
Operating area worldwide
Ice class 1C/E1 for sea areas with ice formation
Service life 30 years

 

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