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The Orkan Class (Nato code name: Sassnitz Class) fast attack craft are in service with the Polish Navy. They were originally intended for the German Democratic Republic.
Three unfinished Orkan Class boats were acquired by the Polish Navy from VEB Peenewerft shipyard after German reunification. The ships were completed by the Northern Shipyard in Gdańsk. The first ship in class, ORP Orkan (421), was commissioned into the Polish Navy in September 1992.
The second and third ships, ORP Piorun (422) and ORP Grom (423), were commissioned in March 1994 and April 1995 respectively. The fast attack craft are operated by the 3rd Ship Flotilla, based at Gdynia-Oksywie Naval Base.
In 2009, the Polish Navy launched a competition for the upgradation of the Orkan Class combat system which was won by Thales Nederland (Thales-NL). In July 2001, Naval Shipyard Gdynia and Thales-NL signed a €76m contract for the modernization of the three Polish Navy vessels. The contact became effective in spring 2002 and was successfully concluded in 2007.
Within the scope of this contract, Thales-NL acted as main supplier of the new Integrated Combat System and as the overall Combat System Integrator.
Thales-NL’s scope of supply contained Thales group manufactured TACTICOS combat management system including Link 11, STING EO fire control radar, communications and navigation systems and subcontracted deliverables like 3D radar surveillance radar , RBS15 missile launch system and a new navigation radar.
In its role as Combat System Integrator, Thales-NL integrated, besides the own scope of supply, also the Government Furnished Equipment (Polish IFF, Polish electronic warfare systems and remaining on board guns AK176M and AK630M) with the TACTICOS combat management system and supported the shipyard concerning the proper arrangement and installation of the new equipment.
Orkan Class features
The upgraded Orkan Class vessels comply with Nato standards regarding situational awareness and interoperability and feature anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-air warfare (AAW), electronic warfare (EW) and naval gunfire support (NGS) capabilities.
Command and control system onboard the fast attack craft
The combat management system of the ship is TACTICOS. The system is capable of simultaneous real-time situational awareness and hard-real time fire control. It mainly comprises a modular interface and processing infrastructure and MOC Mk3 multifunction operator consoles with respective application software for tactical picture compilation, data link, warfare, navigation and air control support, training and simulation and subsystem integration and control and monitoring.
The system is capable of dynamic allocation and/or reallocation of any operator task/role to any MOC Mk3 console and the dynamic attachment of any sensor – MOC Mk3 – weapon combination.
TACTICOS infrastructure integrates all tactical shipboard sensors as well as hard and soft-kill weapons into one operational entity and provides data distribution between connected systems and from/to the MOC Mk3 consoles.
Control and monitoring of tactical sensors and weapons, including the Russian guns AK176M and AK630M, can be executed at any of the multifunction operator consoles by means of specific software applications providing redundancy in operation and coordinated use of all weapons and sensors.
TACTICOS warfare capability on board the Orkan Class conducts automatic threat evaluation and prioritization, weapon assignment including ballistic processing, fire control sensors allocation and kill assessment.
Orkan Class missiles
Saab Bofors Dynamics received a €110m contract in October 2006 from MESKO and BUMAR to supply RBS15 Mk3 surface-to-surface missile (SSM) systems. The contract was placed on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Defence.
The missile was jointly manufactured and marketed by Diehl BGT Defence and Saab.
The new generation RBS15 Mk3 missiles replaced the Mk2 missiles previously fitted on the three ships. The RBS15 Mk3 is equipped with advanced target seeker with all-weather capability. It can engage sea and land-based targets within a range exceeding 200km. The missile successfully demonstrated its ability of engaging land targets in April 2008.
The missile launch system has been fully integrated with TACTICOS for exchange of target track data, navigation data and remote control for provision of commands and setting and status monitoring of system operation.
Naval guns on the Polish Navy ships
The main gun fitted forward is a 76.2mm AK176M naval gun. It can fire at a rate of 120 rounds a minute to a maximum range of 15.5km. It can engage sea, coastal and aerial targets such as low flying anti-ship missiles.
Close-point defence is provided by a 30mm AK630M CIWS (close-in weapon system). The CIWS has a rate of fire of 5,000 rounds a minute and a maximum range of 4,000m. It can defend incoming anti-ship missiles and precision guided weapons. AK-630 can also be employed against coastal targets, floating mines and fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
During modernization of the ships, both guns have been fully integrated with TACTICOS by means of specific Gun Interface hardware and software for calculation of ballistic parameters, gun servo control, automatic remote control for provision of switching and firing commands to the gun and status monitoring of gun operation.
Sensors / radars
The ship is fitted with the 3D air and surface surveillance radar Sea Giraffe AMB manufactured by former Ericsson (now Saab) Microwave Systems. Main tasks of the radar are early warning, detection of low cross-section aerial targets flying at low altitudes and the provision of fire control data for surface target engagement with guns.
The IFF and the Radar ESM of the Orkan Class have been produced by Polish manufacturers. The IFF is of the type Suprasl and was provided by company Radwar while the ESM Bren-R was manufactured by PIT.
Main fire control sensor of the ship is the STING EO fire control radar capable of tracking air and surface targets under most severe meteorological conditions. STING-EO Mk2 operates in I / K-Bands and additionally contains 3 electro optical sensors. STING EO is mainly used for air target engagement with both 76mm and 30mm guns, however, can also be assigned for surface target engagements with the available guns.
The Orkan Class is also equipped with a Bridgemaster-E navigation radar produced by Sperry Marine.
The sensors have been fully integrated with TACTICOS for exchange of target track data, video, navigation data and status monitoring of sensor operation. TACTICOS also provides automatic remote control of all tactical surveillance and fire control sensors for provision of commands and settings.
Propulsion and engines
The Orkan Class fast attack craft are powered by three M520 diesel engines driving three propellers. Each engine can deliver a power output of 3,970kW. The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 36kt and a range of 1,620nmi.
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