Surface Forces: August 25, 1999

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PAAMS SURVIVES HORIZON SINKING While the Horizon frigate it was to have armed was sunk when the British pulled out of the program, the Principle Anti-Air Missile System has survived. In a deal involving France, Italy, and the UK, a $2 billion contract was issued in August for full-scale development of the system. Alenia Marconi, Aerospatiale-Matra, and Thomson-CSF own 2/3 of the joint venture, while British Aerospace owns the rest. PAAMS will fit Aster-15 and Aster-30 missiles into a 48-cell vertical launcher and control them with either a G-Band (France/Italy) or E/F-band (UK) radar. --Stephen V Cole

Britain plans to build a class of 12 Type-45 destroyers to replace the aging Type-42s, with the first to enter service in 2007. These will be 6,000-ton ships, armed with a cannon, 48-cell PAAMS missile launcher, eight anti-ship missiles, anti-missile systems, and a helicopter. Unlike the "all-new" Horizon frigate, most of the systems and equipment will be improved versions of existing designs. A curious detail of the design is that there must be room to replace the PAAMS missile launcher (which can only fire the Aster-15/30 anti-aircraft weapons) with the US Mark-41 VLS system, which can fire a much broader array of weapons, including anti-submarine, anti-ship, and even anti-ballistic missiles. --Stephen V Cole

China is moving slowly to build new warships, and has not begun construction of the second Luhai-class destroyer as was expected. The first ship is undergoing extensive tests and its HQ7 air-defense system has been found "totally inadequate". The Chinese apparently want to gather more operational data before starting construction on a large and expensive class of warships that could already be obsolete. These Chinese submarine program is in similar disarray. The first of the Song-class submarines (launched in 1995) was a failure; it was far too noisy and its various systems did not work well together. Series production of the Song class (intended to replace the 80 ancient Romeos once in the Chinese fleet) was delayed and construction time for the second Song-class boat extended. It is now expected to enter trials later this year, and will be watched carefully. --Stephen V Cole

 


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