The Netherlands and Belgium have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly replace the multipurpose frigates and minesweepers of both nations.

As per Belgium Defence Minister Steven Vandeput’s Strategic Vision 2030, the two countries will acquire two new frigates and six mine hunters each, reported Shephard, citing a Belgian ministry spokesman.

Speaking during a conference on the Benelux defence cooperation, Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said: "The joint purchase new M-class frigates and minesweepers is the next logical step in our cooperation.

"To maintain a broad and balanced armed forces, we must continue to integrate Belgian Defence systematically."

“This allows us to deepen our collective strengths and we are operationally efficient.”

She added: "With our ships, we can protect our ports and the maritime supply lines that are crucial for the open economies that characterise our countries.”

The Netherlands will lead for the replacement of the M-class frigates, while Belgium will lead for the minehunters.

For the Dutch logistics support and supply vessel Zr Ms Karel Doorman, Belgium has revealed plans to contribute a medical unit or a helicopter detachment.

Additionally, the countries are also looking for opportunities for cooperation between the Dutch Marine Corps and the Belgian Light Amphibious Brigade.

Commenting on the importance of cooperation, Vandeput said: "To maintain a broad and balanced armed forces, we must continue to integrate Belgian Defence systematically, and on a European level, with our neighbours. Military cooperation only makes sense if there is a win-win situation for all parties."

The Belgian Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) formalised an agreement in 1996, under which the navies would operate under a single command during peacetime and war.

Image: Belgium and Netherlands to jointly replace their multipurpose frigates and minesweepers. Photo: courtesy of Royal Netherlands Navy.