By Bilal Khan
21 September 2015
The first of the Algerian National Navy (ANN)’s upcoming MEKO A-200AN multi-mission frigates are reportedly ready to begin their sea trials (Navy Recognition).
Ordered in March 2012 from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in a $2.7 billion USD order (involving two ships, six AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 helicopters and an option for two more ships – IHS Jane’s 360), the MEKO A-200AN will play a central role in the ANN’s future surface fleet.
The first of the ANN’s MEKO A-200AN. Photo credit: Navy Recognition
The MEKO A-200AN is a multi-mission design capable of anti-ship warfare (AShW), short-range anti-air warfare (AAW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
The AShW capability will be delivered through 16 Saab RBS-15Mk3 anti-ship missiles (IHS Jane’s 360), allowing the MEKO to engage surface targets at over 200km. It is marketed as a “fire-and-forget, subsonic cruise type missile” (Saab). It is important to note that the missile is not restricted to ships, it can be used to engage fixed targets on land as well. It essentially affords the ANN stand-off strike capability.
The RBS-15Mk3 AShM is capable of targeting fixed surface targets on land. Photo credit: Saab
The short-range AAW system is composed of a 32-cell vertical launch system (VLS) housing Umkhonto-IR point-defence surface-to-air missiles (IHS Jane’s 360). The Umkhonto-IR was developed and built by the South African firm Denel Dynamics and has a range of up to 15-20km (Denel Dynamics). While a short-range AAW system, the Umkhonto-IR is designed to be an effective countermeasure against incoming missiles. Denel also claims that it is capable of engaging surface targets as well (Denel Dynamics).
The Umkhonto-IR point-defence surface-to-air missile system. Notice the vertical launch system in action. Picture credit: Denel Dynamics
The MEKO A-200AN’s ASW’s capabilities are centered on the EuroTorp MU90 ‘Advanced Lightweight Torpedo’ (IHS Jane’s 360), a joint Italian-French program by the firms Finmeccanica, DCNS International and Thales. The MU90 has a speed of 29Kts to over 50Kts (Naval Technology).
The MU90 ‘Advanced Lightweight Torpedo.’ Photo credit: AviationsMilitaires
The ship’s radar is the Saab Sea Giraffe AMB (Naval Recognition), an advanced 3-D (i.e. capable of detecting an object’s range, direction and elevation) radar with a range of up to 180km (Saab). The frigate will also be equipped with a Thales UMS4132 ‘Kingklip’ sonar, which will be used in its ASW operations (Naval Recognition).
Overall, the MEKO A-200ANs are an impressive package, but it will be interesting to see if the ANN opts to swap out the Umkhonto-IR short-range surface-to-air missiles with a medium-range system. Though the point-defence aspect is good, it seems that the Algerian frigate can be outfitted with a longer-range system, thus affording the ANN with area wide air defence capability over the seas.
One option already on the market is the 30km MBDA France Aster-15 (which would be paired with the Sylver-43 VLS), but MBDA UK and Italy will be rolling out the similar Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) in 2016-2017 as well. The current vendor, Denel Dynamics, has the 60km Umkhonto-R as well, but that program is likely in its early stages at this time.