The Netherlands and its neighbor Belgium have agreed to jointly acquire four anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion).
According to a procurement letter sent to the Dutch Parliament earlier this week, the “robust” vessels will be used to act against a wide range of surface and underwater enemy assets.
Two of them will be delivered to the Royal Netherlands Navy starting 2029, while the other two will be handed over to the Belgian Navy in 2030.
Amsterdam initially earmarked 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) for the acquisition, but increased the funding by 251 million euros ($274 million) due to additional design requirements for quieter and more shock-resistant frigates.
Belgium appropriated around 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) for the two frigates, a budget slightly higher than a 2018 forecast because of a decision to add more modern armaments and sensors.
The Dutch Parliament is expected to formally approve the acquisition on April 19.
According to the Netherlands’ defense ministry, there are multiple components and weapons to be fitted into the ASW frigates. However, around 40 of them are yet to be approved.
Thales Netherlands will be responsible for integrating fire and radar control systems, which would help crews decide what arms are effective against certain threats.
The frigates will also feature state-of-the-art sonar, communications, and electronic warfare equipment.
In terms of armaments, the two countries agreed to equip the warships with a 76-millimeter gun, two 40-millimeter guns, and remote weapon systems to provide 360-degree force protection.
They will also boast Raytheon Mk54 torpedoes, Rolling Airframe Missiles, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, and Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile.
A total of 115 military personnel can be accommodated by each ASW frigate.
‘At the Forefront of Defense Cooperation’
This is not the first time that the Netherlands and Belgium are collaborating on a defense project, as the nations have also been jointly procuring mine countermeasures vessels.
With the ASW frigate project, the two allies will team up for the design, acquisition, use, and maintenance of the ships.
The ministry said that the collaboration would not only save costs, but will also benefit international cooperation.
“With our cooperation, Belgium and the Netherlands are taking the next step in the field of international defense cooperation,” Dutch state secretary Christophe van der Maat said. “Our countries are at the forefront of this in Europe.”