ROSTOCK, Germany --- The Bundeswehr is planning the MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180, now known as the future Type 126 frigate, as an all-rounder for the Navy. Mission modules cover a wide range of uses - with superiority in naval warfare at the extreme end.
The MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180 will be an all-purpose weapon. Built-in modules designed for specific military missions will make this possible. The mission modules are at the core of what makes the "multi-purpose" of these combat ships practically.
This modularity is the result 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 - and the demands that national and alliance defense in Europe places on the navy.
The "K" stands for "fight"
The MKS multi-purpose combat ship should therefore be able to patrol large sea areas all over the world and for long periods of time, monitor embargoes and, if necessary, evacuate German citizens from crisis situations, and, as necessary, also fight other warships in the North Atlantic or the Mediterranean Sea as well as submarines. A single type of ship was previously unable to fulfill such a wide range of tasks.
The basic variant of the MKS multi-purpose combat ship is in itself a full-fledged combat ship. Exchangeable mission modules complement this core capability and turn the ship into a specialist vessel. Two types of such mission modules are currently planned: an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) module and a “Detention” module.
Flexibility thanks to the modular system
The ASW mission module turns the MKS multi-purpose combat ship into a specialized submarine hunter. With on-board helicopters and its own sonars - in conjunction with the sensors of allied reconnaissance aircraft and submarines - the ship can make a large sea area safe from underwater threats.
The “custody” module turns the multi-purpose combat ship into a floating base, for example for anti-piracy missions. Several rooms allow people to be taken into temporary custody; an additional medical station makes medical examinations possible under quarantine conditions.
As much independence as possible
The mission modules are spread over three areas in the ship. A so-called flex deck is located below the flight deck at the stern. With the help of an external crane, it can be loaded from above via a loading hatch. Two further flex decks are located approximately halfway along the ship in the superstructure and can be reached with an on-board multi-purpose container crane.
On behalf of the BAAINBw Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr, various possible versions for the MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180 were created at the beginning of the procurement project. The final design comes from the shipyard that won the contract.
Exchange and commissioning of the modules should be possible quickly and worldwide, without interfering with the ship structure and without a shipyard. In addition, the modules must withstand the climatic and oceanographic conditions that prevail in the respective area of use. The MKS multi-purpose combat ship will be able to travel in the tropics as well as have a certificate for ice-covered waters to navigate polar regions.
The modularity of the MKS multi-purpose combat ship has several advantages: Mission modules that are not required can be stored and serviced independently of the ship as an operational platform. The modules do not have to be procured for each ship and can also be procured independently of the time.
Modularity needs space
The size of the new warships is impressive compared to previous ships of the Navy, because, among other things, they need enough space for the various modules. The planners of the Bundeswehr calculate a length of around 160 meters and a water displacement of up to 10,000 tons for the MKS multi-purpose combat ship. For comparison: The frigates of the Baden-Württemberg class are a good ten meters shorter and more than 2,000 tons lighter. And these ships are almost twice as big as the Bremen-class ships.
The MKS multi-purpose combat ship will, however, take over some features of the frigates of the Baden-Württemberg class - above all automation and low maintenance of the technical systems as well as the multi-crew concept. This will also allow these new ships to remain in the area of operation for up to two years, while the 114-strong crew rotates every four months. In addition to this regular crew, there are up to 80 people who specialize in certain missions.
From January 1, 2021, the Bundeswehr Equipment Office BAAINBw, Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr, will rename the MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180 project to F126. This will adapt the future new ship type to the classification of the Navy.
The MKS multi-purpose combat ship 180 in bullet points
-- Self-defense and combat missions
-- Creation of a maritime situation report above and below water
-- Maritime surveillance and embargo control including boarding military evacuations in crisis situations
-- Escort for merchant ships
-- Leading task forces at sea
-- Medium and short-range anti-aircraft missiles
-- long-range anti-ship missiles
-- Main gun 127 millimeters with extended range ammunition
-- Water cannons, heavy machine guns, light marine guns
-- Emergency boats, reconnaissance drones, on-board helicopters
-- Length: around 160 meters
-- Displacement: up to 10,000 tons
-- Regular crew: 114
-- Berths for additional staff: 80
-- Ice class: 1C for sea areas with ice formation
-- Duration of use: 24 months
-- Operating area: worldwide
-- Service life: 30 years