October 24, 2008: While Germany has been hesitant about getting
involved in any combat in Afghanistan, they are making long range plans for
foreign adventures. This comes in the form of four 7,200 ton warships that, in
addition to the usual guns and missiles, carry fifty commandos. These F125
class frigates (they are actually the size of destroyers, but Europeans prefer
to avoid such a violence laden word) will cost about $900 million each and the
first one won't be delivered for six years.
Maybe the Germans will get their
military mojo back by then, because these ships are designed to go half way
around the world and make trouble. The 478 foot long ships have a crew of 120
(not counting the commandos) and are armed with eight Harpoon anti-ship
missiles, two RAM launchers (with 21 missiles each) for anti-missile and
anti-aircraft work, one 127mm cannon, two 27mm remotely controlled autocannon,
seven 12.7mm machine-guns (five remotely controlled), and two water cannon.
There are also two NH-90 helicopters and four 36 foot long, high speed (47
kilometers an hour) boats for the commandos (who also get dibs on the
helicopters) and one or two UUVs (unmanned underwater vehicles) for clearing
mines. There's also space for two 20
foot shipping containers, containing any special equipment. Electronics
includes a phased array air search radar (as on Aegis ships) and the usual
complement of commo and countermeasures stuff.
The F125s are designed to stay at sea
for up to two years (with a crew switch, using a concept pioneered by the
Americans, every six months or so). The ship isn't fast, with a top speed of 50
kilometers an hour. It can travel 7,200 kilometers without refueling. With
these four frigates, Germany returns to the high seas.