By Luca Peruzzi
Exploiting the naval combat system integrator and supplier knowledge and experience developed with the UAE Naval Forces for the Bynunah-, Abu Dhabi-, Falaj 2- and Ghannatha-class programmes, Leonardo has been selected and awarded the contract for the combat system integration and main components delivery for the Falaj 3 OPV shipbuilding programme, according to sources consulted by EDR On-Line.
In May 2021 Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB), as part of the platform and systems cluster of the EDGE group, announced to have received by UAE Minister of Defence and Navy an AED 3.5 billion contract for the shipbuilding, fitting out and delivery of four Falaj-3 class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). The new combatant platforms will have a stealth design, will be 60 meters long and 9.5 meters wide, with a 641 tonnes full load displacement, a propulsion package centered on four diesel engines and four propellers to attain speeds in excess of 26 knots and a range of 2,000 nm at 16 knots.
Although Leonardo did not comment the information, sources confirmed to EDR On-Line the contract award to the Italian group for the integration activities of the combat system equipment for the Falaj 3 programme alongside the supply of the combat management system (CMS), main sensors, weapons and electronic systems. Leonardo will provide and integrate the latest generation ATHENA C Mk2 CMS hardware and software package in a customized iteration to satisfy UAE Naval Forces requirements. The ATHENA C Mk 2 exploits Leonardo latest developments with the Italian Navy’s newest combatants programmes like the Thaon di Revel-class PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura), Trieste-class LHD and Vulcano-class LSS, alongside export solutions, including remote processing and human-machine interface (HMI) solutions.
The ATHENA C Mk2 CMS will manage a sensors suite centered on a main 3D multifunction radar, namely the Kronos Naval High Power (Kronos NV HP), supplied by the same Italian group, Elettronica EW suite based on latest generation RESM/CESM equipment, also being installed on the two Bani Yas-class (Gowind 2500) corvettes to be delivered by Naval Group as prime contractor, as well as the Leonardo NA-30S Mk2 dual-band radar/electro-optical fire control system for the gun armament, together with targeting designation systems and other electronics. The Italian company is also understood to supply the multi datalink processor (MDLP) for managing data link interaction and information distribution, as well as the new generation IFF interrogator and transponder, understood being respectively the SIR-M-C EVO and M-428 equipment. The communication suite should be provided by Rohde & Schwarz and should be based on the NAVICS solution, no comments coming from the company. The Falaj 3 OPVs are also expected to be equipped with Rheinmetall Defence MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) decoy launchers, according to released images and models.
The Kronos NV HP represents Leonardo’s new baseline C-band rotating 3D multifunction radar for light naval platforms. EDR On-Line understood the Kronos NV HP is equipped with an actively electronically scanned array antenna equipped with a higher number of transmitter/receiver modules based on GaAs technology, compared to the original baseline model of Kronos family radars. This allows to provide enhanced performances as well as higher availability and improved graceful degradation capacity.
Leonardo will also provide the 76/62 Super Rapido main gun in the latest multi-feeding configuration equipped with the Strales kit consisting on the radio frequency guidance system to manage the DART guided munitions to counter asymmetric threats and anti-ship missiles. Sources have also confirmed to EDR On-Line that the same gun in the Strales configuration equips the Bani Yas-class corvettes being delivered by Naval Group, creating a new standard in the gunnery equipment for the UAE Naval Forces which could be retrofitted to in-service Super Rapido in addition to the Vulcano 76 mm munition.
The Falaj 3 will also be equipped with a Raytheon Mk 49 RAM launching system for air and asymmetric threats defence, which can fire both Block 1A and Block 2 RIM-116 missile versions procured by UAE Naval Forces, two twin-cell launchers for MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles and, according to images and model presented by ADSB, two rocket launchers of undisclosed type. For inner-layer defence, EDR On-Line understood the new naval platforms are supposed to be equipped with a 30 mm remote controlled station, which was identified without official confirmation as being supplied by Australian EOS, alongside two 12.7 mm remotely controlled gun systems provided by an unidentified supplier.
Photos by ADSB and NAVDEX