Thales to develop air warfare mission suite for new Dutch, Belgian frigates

The Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has contracted Thales to develop a new anti-air warfare system, dubbed the Above Water Warfare System (AWWS), which will be used on the new generation of frigates to be built for the Netherlands and Belgium.

Photo: Thales

The current multi-purpose (M) frigates in service with the two navies will be replaced as they are reaching the end of their lifecycle. A new generation of M-frigates is scheduled to start entering service in 2024.

Although their primary role will be anti-submarine warfare, the new frigates must be able to independently defend themselves as well as nearby units against air and surface threats.

For this purpose, they will be equipped with AWWS, a new system that will continuously generate the best solution to counter incoming threats. It will consist of a new generation of sensors, coupled with intelligent software that continuously calculates which actions are best suited to tackle each threat detected by radar and other sensors in the right manner. This maximizes the chance of survival, while the crew stays in control.

AWWS will use the fully digital dual-band X/S radar suite: an integral combination of active phased array radar (APAR) and Sea Master 400 radar technologies.

Prior to the AWWS contract, the Dutch defense ministry initiated advanced research into this technology with DMO, TNO and Thales more than ten years ago. This resulted in an agreement for a “technology demonstrator”.

The technology demonstrator will eventually be installed at a shore-based test site for tests and trials.

“For many decades, the naval building cluster, knowledge institutes and defense have been supplying modern and technologically advanced products in what we call the Triple Helix. These products are essential for our national security,” Arie-Jan de Waard, director, DMO. “It is great we are taking an important step for this priority with the development of the AWWS project with Thales.”