Thales has inaugurated a testing centre in partnership with the German Navy and BAAINBw, signalling another moment in advancing the F126 frigate project.

Thales, the German Navy, and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) joined hands to unveil the “extended Thales Testing Centre” on 23 April 2024. The facility is located in Hengelo, Netherlands.

The centre has a role in system testing and integration. The inauguration represents a space where partners come together to realise solutions that cater to the project’s unique requirements.

In June 2020, the German parliament approved the purchase of four multipurpose MKS 180 vessels to replace the German Navy’s Brandenburg class frigates. The four MKS 180 ships will serve as multi-mission platforms and be commissioned by the German Navy as F126 frigates. Construction of the frigates is expected to commence in 2023, and the first ship will be delivered to the German Navy in 2027, according to GlobalData’s intelligence on the German defence market. 

Damen Shipyards Group initiated the construction of the F126 frigates with a steel-cutting ceremony at the Peene shipyard in Wolgast, Germany, in December 2023. Concurrently, Thales announced its collaboration with the project, providing advanced satellite communications systems, SurfSAT-L, for the F126 frigates. 

As the F126 project edges closer to fruition, the inauguration serves as a poignant reminder of the close-knit collaboration of stakeholders.

“Inaugurating the extended Thales Testing Centre today marks a significant milestone in the F126 project journey,” remarked Dirk Jan de Bruijn, vice-president of above water systems at Thales.

“Together, we have laid the foundation for a collaborative environment that will propel us towards innovative solutions for the F126 frigates.”