Saturday, 18 August 2007
In recent years, many European navies have undergone quiet but nonetheless impressive enhancements. A number of imposing new aircraft carriers, landing platforms, warships and submarines have been introduced, particularly in the Royal Navy, the French Marine Nationale, Italy’s Marina Militare, the Deutsche Marine, the Armada Española, and the Koninklijke Marine of the Netherlands. These vessels of war hold some of the most lethal and advanced naval weaponry and radar equipment in the world—on par or exceeding that of even the United States Navy. In fact, so many new classes have been recently completed, laid down, and ordered, that it would be inappropriate to deal with all of them all at once. In this entry, therefore, we shall deal with what are perhaps the most stunning two classes of warship, the Type 45 ‘Daring’ class and the Horizon class—both potent destroyers—whic
Destroyers are one of the most important types of warship in any modern fleet, particularly those equipped with far larger vessels whose role is to project force over extensive distances. As a class of vessel in its own right, the first destroyer was developed by Fernando Villaamil, a Spanish naval officer and engineer, as a defence against the newly emerging threat from torpedo boats to pre-Dreadnought
The Type 45 and Horizon destroyers were conceived in the late 1980s under the pretext of the NFR-90 (New Frigate for the 1990s) programme. This project included seven countries, and aimed to develop a new generation of air-defence warship; however, differing needs led the United States and United Kingdom to pull out of the programme, which subsequently faltered. Britain, France and Italy then went ahead to begin the Horizon Common Generation Frigate project in 1992, but London eventually withdrew—again citing different requirements—an
Both classes of ship, however, would eventually come to use similar or identical radar and weapons systems, centred around the ‘phenomenal’ Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), which utilises SAMPSON radar in the Type 45’s case, and EMPAR in the case of the Horizon. PAAMS also uses the ASTER surface-to-air missiles, which when combined with SAMPSON or EMPAR, provides an almost impervious aerial defence system, capable of protecting large fleets of vessels. Indeed, so advanced is PAAMS that it can detect and track almost every single flying object the size of a grapefruit over a radius of several-hundred
Type 45 ‘Daring’ class: The Type 45 has a displacement of 7,350 tonnes, which makes it heavier than some types of World War II cruiser. Each vessel is 154.4 metres long, 21.2 metres wide and has a draught of 5 metres. Powered by Integrated Electric Propulsion, the vessels can ‘comfortably’ reach speeds of over thirty knots, and have a range of 13,000 kilometres. With PAAMS and armed with forty-eight ASTER missiles, a 114 millimetre long-range naval gun, and Phalanx close-in weapons systems, the ‘Daring class’, according to the former First Sea Lord, Sir Alan West, will ‘be the Royal Navy’s most capable destroyer ever, and will enter service later this decade as the best air defence ship in the world.’ Indeed, these weapons systems will be further enhanced with heavy machine-guns, decoys, and a Lynx attack helicopter or Merlin support helicopter. While primarily designed to defend the two massive new British aircraft carriers, due to come into service in 2014 and 2016 respectively, the Type 45s are also capable of multi-purpose use and are deployable anywhere in the world. Eight Type 45s are planned for construction, with the first, HMS Daring, already under sea trials. The other five vessels of the first batch—costing £6 billion (€8.8 billion)—are to be named HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Dragon, HMS Defender and HMS Duncan.
As BAe Systems puts it, which designed and is building the vessels:
The Type 45 anti-air warfare destroyers will provide the backbone of the Royal Navy’s air defences for much of the first half of the twenty-first century. They will be able to engage a large number of targets simultaneously and defend aircraft carriers or groups of ships, such as an amphibious landing force, against the strongest future threats from the air. A versatile warship, the Type 45 will provide unprecedented detection and defensive capability and vastly improved living standards when the first of class, [HMS] Daring, enters service in 2009. They will be capable of contributing to worldwide maritime and joint operations in multi-threat environments, providing a specialist air-warfare capability.
Horizon class: Like the Type 45, the Horizon class of destroyer will also be a state-of-the-ar
What is clear is that these two formidable new warship classes are a step-change in European naval capabilities. With a combined total of twelve destroyers, they provide more than sufficient and future-proof air defence for any European naval expeditionary force. Only the United States Navy’s future Zumwalt class of heavy destroyer will match them but these projected vessels are primed for land attack rather than aerial defence. This is one area where the European destroyers are less capable. The Type 45s may need to be re-calibrated if necessary so that they can fire cruise missiles, thereby enhancing their land attack capacity. This should not, however, be a problem, for their vertical missile launchers are capable of this task with some adaptations. The Horizon class may also need similar adaptation, although the Marine Nationale is rumoured to have planned to equip its ships with modified Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
What, however, can be learnt from the Type 45 and Horizon projects? More than might at first be thought. First, instead of several projects, it would be more cost effective and efficient if European navies collaborated more closely in designing integrated naval platforms. The potential economies of scale and technological expertise obtainable may in some cases dramatically enhance the development times and costs of large naval programmes. Second, as European navies operate progressively more closely under the European Security and Defence Policy, it is essential that interoperabilit