At FEINDEF 2023 Navantia, the leading Spanish shipyard, exhibited a model of its SMART 8000 concept and demonstrated its Integrated Service System, an advanced smart digital services infrastructure that will be installed on the new F110 frigates
One and a half year ago, at FEINDEF 2021, Navantia unveiled its concept for future surface combatant ships, the SMART 4000. At the 2023 edition of the Madrid exhibition, the shipyard exhibited the model of the SMART 8000, the second member of the family of concept ship.
As the number indicates, the displacement is in excess of 8,000 tonnes, the double of the SMART 4000, while length steps up from 120 to 165-170 metres. The hull shape of this destroyer-size ship maintains the wave-piercing bow and the general design of the smaller ship, speed increasing from 25 to 27-30 knots depending on propulsion arrangements. On the model exhibited in Madrid propulsion was ensured by two pods fitted with four-blade propellers, this solution ensuring maximum manoeuvrability; the SMART 4000 was fitted with Voith Linear Jets. However for discrete low speed operations on the SMART 9000 Navantia is considering using electric power provided either by fuel cells or batteries, an Integrated Power Generation system providing power for navigation and on-board systems. At economic speed the SMART 8000 has a range around 6,000 nautical miles.
Some elements of the SMART 4000 can be found also on the bigger ship, among them the large multi-mission space capable to host unmanned systems of different kind, air, surface and underwater. The greater length of the ship allowed to further extending the space between the aft flight deck and the superstucture, allowing to embark a number of containers hosting different types of unmanned systems. These will allow extending the arm of the ship, deploying sensors away from the platform for early warning and intelligence purposes.
Moving towards the bow we find the superstructure; as for the rest of the ship stealthness was one of the priorities the overall height being relatively limited as part of the operational areas are located under the deck. The bridge arrangement is based on that designed for the 4,000 tonnes vessels but is more developed. The Combat Information Centre is modular and can be tailored to the mission and to weapon systems installed. The combat system is developed around the C4IP concept (C4ISR plus Integrated Platform Management System) that allows a considerable manpower reduction.
Crew arrangements are modular and feature a very good standard of life, according to Navantia.
Compared to the SMART 4000 the bigger ship has a full weapon load of vertically launched missiles, the model showing six eight-round modules, three on the port side and three on the starboard one, just behind the bow-mounted 127 mm gun. Overall the 48 missiles should include anti-surface, air-defence as well as anti-submarine ordnance. When not in use the 127 mm gun can be retracted within the hull, two covers hiding it, the same being true for the two missile openings.
A medium-calibre remotely controlled weapon station is installed behind the mast, looking aft, while at least four small-calibre RCWS are locates on the superstructure, providing 360° coverage. Ahead of the mast another effector, possibly laser-based, is installed.
Compared to the SMART 4000, which complement was around 70 sailors, the SMART 8000 crew will number between 100 and 120 people. As said these will profit of high living standards, their life being also constantly under the control of the Integrated Services System, ISS in short.
While the SMART family is for the time being only a concept study, the ISS is something real, as it will be installed on the new F110 Spanish Navy multi-purpose frigates, the first-of-class, the F111 Bonifaz, being under construction at Navantia, the cut of first steel ceremony dating back to April 2022. Delivery of the five ships should be completed by 2032.
Designed in cooperation with the Universidade de Vigo, the ISS is an advances smart digital secure infrastructure interfaced with the ship Integrated Platform Management System and the Integrated Communication Control System.
A networked system, its main components are the ceiling lighting modules, which are in fact multifunction modules. These contain not only white and red lights, but also act as communication nodes, ensure public address functions, can provide alarms, indicate visually and acoustically the best escape route in case of emergency; should an obstacle block the previously planned route this is redesigned thanks to artificial intelligence-based (AI) algorithms, and visual and acoustic signals are modified accordingly. An electronic dog tag worn by all crew members allows to provide their position with centimetric accuracy, a 2K/4K real-time video streaming in visual and/or IR bands providing full situational awareness to the control room, while microphones permit to communicate with personnel. In case of man-over-board the dog tag gives an immediate alarm and acts as beacon, AI- supporting decisions to solve the situation. AI-based algorithms ensure energy saving, as well as providing the proper light where and when needed. Lighting modules also provide Wi-Fi connection in all the ship. Should a blackout occur in all the platform lighting is ensured for three hours, while Wi-Fi will remain active for up to 30 minutes.
The lighting module can host a series of sensors providing ambient data such as air temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, while crew dog tags can be loaded with biometric data. The ISS also allows adding switches without the need to recable the section, considerably reducing the length of cables needed onboard. Monitors can be installed throughout the ship to allow supervisors to control the overall situation. According to Navantia to fully equip a frigate-size vessel around 2,000 ISS lighting modules are needed, control monitors completing the system.
Photos by P. Valpolini