Thales has secured a significant contract with the Dutch Command Materiel and IT (COMMIT) to produce and deliver the Above Water Warfare System (AWWS) fire control cluster and sensor suite.

This contract, valued at several ‘hundreds of millions of euros’, will equip the four new Dutch and Belgian Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Frigates currently under construction. The first ASW frigate is expected to be operational by 2029.

A solution for approaching threats

The AWWS fire control cluster, developed by Thales, is a warfare suite that ensures the ship’s crew can counter and neutralize high-velocity and complex saturation attacks. By continuously analysing and optimising the tactical environment and resource deployment, the system generates a solution for approaching threats in environments.

Thales will leverage its naval Centre of Excellence in Hengelo, the Netherlands, to execute the contract and deliver the AWWS fire control cluster, which integrates radar and fire control systems to combine information from various sensors, including radars.

The system’s technology, based on the APAR Block 2 X-band and the SM400 Block 2 S-band radars, allows the reconfiguration of tasks within a one-radar system.

In addition to the AWWS, Thales will supply the Mirador Mk2 electro-optical fire control sensor, the Gatekeeper Mk2 electro-optic observation sensor, and the Scout Mk3 low detectability naval surveillance radar. Furthermore, the company will provide a logistic support package to ensure the frigates’ operational readiness.

The new frigates, constructed by Damen Naval, will replace the Belgian and Netherlands’ multi-purpose frigates of the Karel Doorman class, which are nearing the end of their lifecycle. The ASW frigates are designed to operate in a multi-mission environment, with their primary task being anti-submarine warfare.

An integrated naval force

According to GlobalData’s “Netherlands Defence Market 2023-2028” report, The Netherlands has invested in integrating its naval forces with that of Belgium under a single unified joint naval command. The agreement extends to joint procurement programs, such as in 2018, when the Netherlands and Belgium jointly ordered 12 mine countermeasure vessels (MCMV), six minesweepers each, and agreed to procure frigates (two each) together.

Thales will also provide the Royal Navy with a £70m ($88.2m) combat system for their new Type 31 Frigate programme.

Thales’s fire control system will enable the frigates to defend themselves and other units against above-water threats independently.

The AWWS contract with COMMIT marks the second major agreement for Thales, following the German F126 class frigates agreement in 2020. Using a common fire control cluster in three West European navies will enhance international cooperation in operations and logistics.

Gerben Edelijn, CEO of Thales in the Netherlands, expressed delight at being selected to provide the fire control capability and sensor suite, stating, “The crew of the ASW frigates can rely on our ultramodern Above Water Warfare System that forms an effective defence against present-day and future threats. With most Western European navies relying on Thales technology, we play a valuable role in international cooperation and the security of Europe.”

Thales recorded a 9.4% increase in sales in Q1 of FY23. The company attributed this growth to strong dynamics and mature markets in different regions, especially Europe and North America.