Contract Signed for the Construction of the Multi-Purpose Combat Ship 180
(Source: German Ministry of Defence; issued June 19, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by
The German Ministry of Defense on June 19 awarded to the Dutch Damen shipyards the contract to build four MKS 180 multipurpose warships, the first of which is due to be delivered in 2027. Two additional ships are optional. (Damen image)
The construction of four Multi-Purpose Combat Ships 180 (MKS 180) is of great importance both for the German Navy and for Germany as a business and industrial location. After the approval of the budget committee of the German Bundestag to finance the new ships on June 17, 2020, the contract between the procurement office of the Bundeswehr and industry was signed on June 19, 2020.

With the signing of the contract, a major milestone was reached after a multi-year, competitive award procedure. The MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180 is being built in cooperation between the Dutch Damen Shipyards Group, the Thales Group and the Lürssen shipyard, incorporating the German Naval Yards.

The construction of the ships will begin in 2023 after a three-year development phase. The first ship will be delivered after another four years. The three subsequent ships are to be handed over to the Navy by the beginning of the next decade. In the contract, the Bundeswehr kept an option to purchase two more ships.

German added value secured

The MKS 180 is based on the design of the Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding and will be largely built in German shipyards. Damen Werft plans to generate over 70 percent of the construction contract's shipyard in Germany. This ensures jobs not only in the area of the shipyards, but also with German naval subcontractors. It is also contractually agreed that around 30 percent will be awarded to medium-sized companies. The state-of-the-art command and control system of the future units comes from the Thales Group, and the central sea and airspace monitoring radar from Hensoldt.

The ship also has a large number of sensors and effectors from the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. Germany has secured extensive rights to the ship for the future.

The planned construction costs amount to approximately 4.6 billion euros net. A total of around 6 billion euros are budgeted for the four units - including the land facilities for training - and the roughly ten-year external construction supervision.

Intensive German-Dutch cooperation

The cooperation of the German-Dutch armed forces is considered an outstanding example of European cooperation in the field of defense. It began with the establishment of the 1st German-Dutch Corps in 1995. Another milestone was the integration of the Dutch 11th Airmobile Brigade into the German Rapid Forces Division in 2014.

With the incorporation of the naval battalion with the Dutch Marine Corps (Korps Mariniers) and the integration of a Dutch brigade into a German division, a further stage of military cooperation between the armed forces of both countries was reached in 2016.

This close connection is not only reflected in the troops. Binational cooperation has also been successfully practiced in the arms sector for years. Here, for example, not only the cooperation with the armored transport vehicle (GTK armored transport vehicle) Boxer and Fennek scout car, but also cooperation on their operation, for example with the Leopard 2 battle tank or the PzH2000 self-propelled howitzer, should be mentioned.

In the Navy there was close cooperation with the frigate classes F124 and De Zeven Provinciën. A further step in binational cooperation is the Tactical Edge Networking (TEN) project, with which Germany and the Netherlands are taking the common path towards digitally networking their armed forces in land-based operations.

Joint shipbuilding promotes key technology

The conclusion of the contract for the multi-purpose combat ship 180 opens the door to exploring further cooperation opportunities in the maritime sector. To this end, State Secretary Benedikt Zimmer and his Dutch counterpart, State Secretary Barbara Visser, initiated a joint dialogue.

Military shipbuilding is defined as a key national technology in both Germany and the Netherlands. However, this in no way precludes cooperation - on the contrary. Joint steps can ensure the availability of security-critical technologies. The goal of each country is to provide its own navy with modern, ready-to-use submarines, boats and ships. But they also want to be able to offer competitive warships on the world market.

Following the European idea, joint projects in the area of key technologies are not only useful, they are necessary so that the connection to technological developments can be kept with increasingly complex weapon systems. A dialogue is to be held with the Netherlands on this. We want to talk to each other about the joint replacement of systems such as the F124 frigates, which are getting old.

“The intensive cooperation between the Netherlands and Germany has a long history and offers opportunities for the future. That is why I regularly consult with my German colleagues to see how we can use these opportunities together,” said State Secretary Visser.

State Secretary Zimmer was looking forward to this view of the future: “Together we can provide our navies with modern, highly complex ships and boats, while strengthening our national industrial base. Our goal is to provide our soldiers with modern systems in good time!”


German-Dutch Cooperation is Also Taking A Naval Shape
(Source: Netherlands Ministry of Defence; issued June 19, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by
Germany today signed a contract for the construction of four MKS 180 frigates. Damen Shipyards designs the so-called Mehrzweckkampfschiffe (multipurpose ships), which are to be built in German shipyards and will receive radars from Thales Nederland. The construction of the frigates clearly demonstrates that German-Dutch cooperation is taking shape increasingly at a maritime level.

This was already the case in the field of land systems such as the Leopard 2A6 main battle tank or Tactical Edge Networking. The latter project aims to further integrate the mobile tactical communication systems of both countries. At the naval level, however, there are also many opportunities for (material) cooperation.

Last month, State Secretary Barbara Visser already spoke to her German colleague Benedikt Zimmer about this via video connection.

“The intensive cooperation between the Netherlands and Germany has a long history and offers opportunities for the future. That is why I regularly consult with my German colleague to see how we can use these opportunities together," Visser.

The last conversation was about cooperation in the replacement of the Dutch air defense and command frigates and the German F124 frigate class. “Agreements about this are laid down in a Letter of Intent that is expected to follow at the end of this year. A shared need also offers opportunities for the German and Dutch maritime defense industry," said Zimmer.

Requirements package

The next step is to draw up a joint package of requirements for the frigates. They must protect themselves, but also other ships, from aircraft and missiles.

In addition to the aforementioned cooperation in the field of frigate construction, the ministers discussed the options for replacing transport ships and the various vessels for the marines.

In addition, neighboring countries are committed to further cooperation in the field of artillery systems, ground-based air defense and electronic warfare.

Dutch Leading Role for German Frigate Project MKS-180
(Source: Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding; issued June 19, 2020)
On June 19th Damen Shipyards Group and the German Bundesamt fur Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr signed the contract for the construction of four MKS-180 frigates for the German Navy. Damen is the main contractor for this complex project which it is undertaking, together with partners Blohm+Voss and Thales, in Germany.

The combination of companies was previously declared the winner of a European tender; the largest in the history of the German Navy. On 17 June, the necessary financial resources were released by the German Bundestag budget committee. The contract marks the start of the design and construction phase.

Approximately 80% of the project investment remains in Germany as added value. The vessels will be built at Blohm+Voss in Hamburg, but partly also at other shipyard locations in Germany, including Bremen, Kiel and Wolgast. Besides this, approximately 100 small and medium-sized companies from the maritime industry, mechanical engineering and plant construction sectors will be involved in the implementation. These companies originate from almost all German states.

Hein van Ameijden, Managing Director Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding: “I am convinced that with the MKS-180 project, we are building a high-quality frigate that meets all the wishes of the German Navy. It is a German-Dutch project. We are already working well with our partners in Germany; Luerssen, Blohm+Voss, and Thales. The project also offers prospects for further European cooperation.

“The many years of cooperation between Damen and Thales as part of the Dutch golden ecosystem is an important factor in this success. If the Netherlands continues to invest in innovative projects for its own navy, we can further expand our role within European naval construction. That’s good for the Netherlands’ strategic role, which fits in with the Defence Industry Strategy.”

The German added value and knowledge development also apply to Thales’s mission systems acquired within the project. Approximately 70% is supplied by Thales’s German branches in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. This is done in close cooperation with numerous subcontractors.

Gerben Edelijn, CEO of Thales Netherlands: “This historic contract for both the German Navy and Thales is a significant milestone in more than 50 years of cooperation, and confirms our worldwide leading position in the field of high-end naval mission systems. The women and men on board of these innovative frigates can rely on the latest technologies in the field of cyber defense, radar and fire control. The AWWS system, developed for the Netherlands and Belgian Navies, will soon also enable the German Navy to withstand threats of today and the coming decades.”

Damen, Lürssen, Blohm+Voss and Thales are delighted with the confidence that the German government places in it. The implementation of the project will begin soon and involves the delivery of four frigates between 2027 and 2031 for an amount of approximately 4.6 billion euros. There is also an option to supply two more frigates after 2032.


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