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Belgium Acquires Two New ASW Frigates

Belgium Acquires Two New ASW Frigates

Belgian Defence Ministry announced on April 3, 2023, the decision to acquire new anti-submarine frigates for the Belgian Navy (the Marine Component of the Belgian Army) for future threats. Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder stated that the Council of Ministers had given the green light to the acquisition of two "Anti-Submarine Warfare"(ASW) frigates as part of a binational programme that will lead to the construction of four units, two of which will serve with the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Two frigates will cost about two billion euros more expensive than previously planned in 2018. The first vessel will enter service in 2030. The increase in budget is partly due to inflation; however, another part is due to the Belgian Defence Ministry’s decision to equip the frigates with armament and sensors fully.

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To refresh the combined fleet beginning in 2029, the Royal Netherlands Navy plans to construct two anti-submarine warfare frigates of the same design. The construction is being done as part of a cooperative effort between the navies of Belgium and the Netherlands, which are replacing their fleet. The contract, which had been delayed over time due to disagreements over the price, involves the construction of four ships. The Belgian and Dutch navies have collaborated closely for a quarter of a century. They have done so to the point that they operate under a mixed chain of command and using a common fleet, hence the decision to acquire identical vessels to maximise commonality, simplifying transit logistics and benefiting from economies of scale. Two neighbouring countries follow the same policy in aviation too.

The first frigate of the new series, which will be assigned to the Royal Netherlands Navy, should enter service at the end of 2029, with Belgium having to wait until mid-2030 to receive its first unit. In 2031, another two units will arrive, one for each state.

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The new frigates will replace the four Dutch-built Karel Doorman-class multipurpose frigates that entered service in the 1990s. Belgium acquired two units in 2005, the "Leopold 1" and the "Louise-Marie", both of second hand, for 230 million euros.

FNSS