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Formidable-class frigate
RSS Steadfast in 2008
RSS Steadfast in 2008
Class overview
Name: Formidable
Builders: DCNS
ST Engineering (Marine)
Operators:  Republic of Singapore Navy
Completed: 6
Active: 6
General characteristics
Type: Frigate
Displacement: 3,200 tonnes (3,150 long tons; 3,530 short tons)
Length: 114.8 m (376 ft 8 in)
Beam: 16.3 m (53 ft 6 in)
Draught: 6.0 m (19 ft 8 in)
Installed power:ISM V1708 diesel generators, each producing 860 kilowatts (1,150 shp)[1]
Total output: 3,440 kW (4,610 shp)
Propulsion: Combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) arrangement
4× MTU 20V 8000 M90, each rated at 9,100 kW (12,200 shp)[2]
Total output: 36,400 kW (48,800 shp)
Speed: Maximum: 27 knots (50.0 km/h; 31.1 mph)
Cruising: 18 kn (33.3 km/h; 20.7 mph)
Range: 4,200 nautical miles (7,780 km)
Complement: 71, excluding air crew detachment of approx. 19
Sensors and
processing systems:
Search radar: Thales Herakles multi-function radar
Navigation radar: Terma Electronic Scanter 2001
Sonar: EDO Model 980 active low frequency towed sonar (ALOFTS)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Decoys: Sagem Défense Sécurité New Generation Dagaie System, 2× forward & 1× aft.
Armament: Anti-ship: 8× RGM-84C Harpoon SSM
Anti-air: MBDA Aster 15/30[3] launched from 4× Sylver A50 8-cell VLS
Anti-submarine: EuroTorp A244/S Mod 3 torpedoes launched from 2× B515 triple tubes with reloads
Guns: Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun (mounted in stealth cupola), 4× CIS 50MG 12.7 mm (0.50 in) HMG, 2x 25mm Mk38 Mod2 Typhoon Weapon Station Stabilised Gun
Aircraft carried:S-70B Seahawk multi-mission capable naval helicopter
Aviation facilities: Flight deck and enclosed hangar for up to two medium-lift helicopters
Notes: Sources:[4][5]

The Formidable-class multi-role stealth frigates are the latest surface platforms to enter into service with the Republic of Singapore Navy, and are multi-mission derivatives of the French Navy’s La Fayette class frigate.[6] The frigates are key information nodes and fighting units, and are described as "by far the most advanced surface combatants in Southeast Asia."[7] The six ships form the 185 Squadron of the RSN.

Planning and acquisition[edit | edit source]

The search for a replacement for the aging Sea Wolf class missile gunboats, which entered into service in 1972, started in the mid-1990s. The United States, Sweden and France participated in the bid for the contract.[8] In March 2000, the Singapore Ministry of Defence awarded the contract to DCNS for the design and construction of six frigates. A key feature of the contract was the technology transfer arrangement. Under the arrangement, DCNS was to design and build the first frigate in its Lorient yard in France while the remaining five frigates were to be built locally by Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine at its Benoi yard in Singapore. Subsequent maintenance and mid-life retrofit will be done by ST Marine.

Construction of the Formidable began in late 2002, when the keel was laid down in Lorient on November 2002.

Name Pennant
Launched Commissioned
RSS Formidable 68 7 January 2004 5 May 2007
RSS Intrepid 69 3 July 2004 5 February 2008
RSS Steadfast 70 28 January 2005 5 February 2008
RSS Tenacious 71 15 July 2005 5 February 2008
RSS Stalwart 72 9 December 2005 16 January 2009
RSS Supreme 73 9 May 2006 16 January 2009

Design and construction[edit | edit source]

Radar cross section (RCS) reduction features have been incorporated into the Formidable class design, with inclined hull sides and bulwarks as well as concealment of ship boats and replenishment-at-sea equipment behind low-RCS curtains. The Formidable class have a significantly reduced profile than the La Fayette class and its other derivatives,[9] due to the smaller superstructure and the use of enclosed sensor mast technology.[10] The frigate is also constructed entirely of steel, unlike the La Fayette class which makes extensive use of weight-saving composite structures in its aft superstructure block.[11] The frigates also possess better sea keeping qualities and are able to stay at sea for longer periods of time.[5]

Sensors and systems[edit | edit source]

The frigates are equipped with the Thales Herakles phased-array multi-function radar, which provides three-dimensional surveillance for up to 250 km (155.3 mi).[12] The radar provides all-round automatic search and tracking of both air and surface targets, and is integrated with the MBDA Aster air defence system.[13] Utilising the DCNS Sylver vertical launch system (VLS), each frigate is equipped with 32 cells.[14] It is reported that the frigates have a special surface-to-air missile configuration, combining the Thales Herakles radar with the Sylver A50 launcher and a mix of Aster 15 and 30 missiles.[15]

The Formidable class frigates are key nodes within the Singapore Armed Forces' Integrated Knowledge-based Command and Control network, a concept similar to the United States Department of Defense's network-centric warfare doctrine. The locally-developed Combat Management System integrates all the sensors and weapon systems on board, and a dual Fast Ethernet data transfer system forms the backbone of this system.[11]

Each frigate has a span of influence that stretches up to about 200 nmi (370 km), where it acts as the Navy's mobile operations centre out at sea and receives information from sister ships and aerial assets deployed within the range. The Combat Management System will then make sense of the different data, establish an accurate picture of the area of operations, and send the information back to shore and to its army and air force counterparts.[16] This increases battlespace awareness and allows little time for the enemy to react due to the short sensor-to-shooter loops.[17]

Armament[edit | edit source]

The frigates are equipped with Boeing Harpoon missiles and Oto Melara 76 mm guns for surface defence. The Harpoon missile has a range of 117 km (63 nmi) and uses active radar guidance. It is armed with a 227 kg (500 lb) warhead. The gun fires 6 kg (13 lb) shells to a maximum range of 30 km (33,000 yd) at a firing rate of up to 120 rounds per minute.

The frigates are also equipped with the EDO Corporation active low frequency towed sonar to enable long range submarine detection and classification, as well as EuroTorp A244/S Mod 3 lightweight torpedoes fired from two B515 triple-tube launchers hidden behind the bulwark.

The frigates are equipped with Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters, an international derivative of the United States Navy Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk. The Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in January 2005 to acquire six of these helicopters, which will be organic to the frigates.[18] Each of these naval helicopters are equipped with a Telephonics AN/APS-143 Ocean Eye X-band maritime surveillance and tracking radar,[19] a L-3 Communications Helicopter Long Range Active Sonar (HELRAS) dipping sonar, EuroTorp A244/S Mod 3 torpedoes and a Raytheon AAS-44 electro-optic system to provide infrared detection and tracking.[20] The naval helicopters will be raised as a squadron in the Republic of Singapore Air Force and piloted by air force pilots, but the system operators will be from the Navy.

Operational History[edit | edit source]

Astern view from starboard: RSS Steadfast during RIMPAC 2008.

RSS Formidable participated in Exercise Malabar 07-2 in September 2007, a Theater Security Cooperation engagement involving the navies of the United States, India, Australia, Japan and Singapore.[21][22] The exercise involved more than 20,000 personnel on 28 ships and 150 aircraft, including the USS Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group.[23]

RSS Intrepid in port

RSS Intrepid conducted the navy's inaugural live firing of the French-made Aster 15 surface-to-air missile on 2 April 2008, off the French coast of Toulon.[24] The frigate successfully shot down an aerial drone simulating an enemy target with an Aster missile. It was reported that the frigate sailed halfway round the world to test fire the Aster missiles due to the crowded air and sealanes around Singapore and the lack of an instrumented firing range needed by defence engineers to track and measure the performance of the Aster missile.[25]

RSS Steadfast participated in the world's largest multilateral naval exercise RIMPAC for the first time from 27 June to 31 July 2008, which involved 20,000 personnel from 10 countries operating over 35 ships, six submarines and over 150 aircraft.[26] During this exercise, RSS Steadfast launched a Harpoon missile on a decommissioned USN warship on 14 July 2008 and also refueled at sea with a contingent of USN vessels.[27][28][29] Participation in this exercise also validated the RSN's ability to conduct sustained sea operations.[30]

On 16 November 2009, the Republic of Singapore Air Force established its Peace Triton Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk Naval Helicopter detachment at the USN Maritime Strike Weapons School in San Diego, California to undertake qualification and operational training under the umbrella of the USN's SH-60F Aircraft Qualification Course. RSS Stalwart was deployed to southern California to support ship/air integration activities.[31] On 25 March 2010, the Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean announced that the Seahawk integration programme had successfully concluded with a "high-tempo, week-long exercise" involving assets from both the RSN and USN, including five surface ships, a submarine, maritime patrol aircraft and F-18 Hornet combat jets.[32]

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen has confirmed on 6 March 2012 that a Formidable-class vessel along with a naval helicopter will be deployed to the Gulf of Aden for the counter piracy mission with CTF-151 later in the year.[33]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. "Isotta Fraschini Motori S.p.A. engines specs". Diesel-Specs.Com. http://www.diesel-spec.com/c/c.aspx/ISO001/productspecs. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  2. "MTU Series 8000". MTU-online. http://www.mtu-online.com/mtu/products/diesel-engines-overview/general-purpose-diesel-engines/8000/. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  3. Andy Mativi (January/February 2008). "Global Dispatches: Target Acquisition - MAST highlights missile defense concepts". Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC. p. 38. ISSN 1935-6269. OCLC 456168746. http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aw/dti0108/index.php?startpage=38. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  4. "Republic of Singapore Navy - Naval Assets". Ministry of Defence (Singapore) (MINDEF). 15 March 2010. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/atozlistings/navy/assets/vessels.html. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Capabilities of the Frigate". MINDEF. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/weapons/frigate/capabilities.asp. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  6. "Formidable Frigate". DCNS. Archived from the original on 2007-05-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20070513074135/http://www.dcn.fr/us/offre/batiments_surface/formidable.html. Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  7. Minnick, Wendell (2007-05-14). "Singapore’s Navy Cruises Toward Blue-Water Force". Defence News. Army Times Publishing Company. 
  8. Joo Lin, Tay (2007-05-26). "Formidable Voyage to Deliver First Stealth Frigate". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. 
  9. "DCNS - European Leader in Naval Defence" (PDF). DCNS. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927025938/http://www.dcns.fr/us/medias/docs/DP_Institutionnel2006_UK.pdf. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  10. "Surface Forces". Strategy Page. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htsurf/articles/20040116.aspx. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Scott, Richard (April 2006). "Singapore Moves to Realise Its Formidable Ambitions". pp. 42–49. 
  12. "Thales HERAKLES" (PDF). Thales. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. http://web.archive.org/web/20070930125024/http://www.thales-naval.com/naval/pdf/herakles1.pdf. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  13. "Combat Systems of the Frigate". MINDEF. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/weapons/frigate/combatsystems.asp. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  14. "Formidable Class Multi-Mission Frigates, Singapore". Naval Technology. http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/formidable/. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  15. "Target acquisition - MAST highlights missile-defense concepts". Defence Technology International. http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aw/dti0108/index.php?startpage=38. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  16. "Frigates to Function as Ops Centre in Integrated Warfighting". MINDEF. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/cyberpioneer/news/2007/May/07may07_news.html. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 
  17. Wan, Gail (May 2007). "Heralding the New-Age Navy". http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/cyberpioneer/features/2007/may07_cs.html. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  18. "Republic of Singapore Navy Acquires Six New Naval Helicopters". Sikorsky Corporation. http://www.sikorsky.com/vgn-ext-templating-SIK/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=00de6eb78fa78110VgnVCM1000001382000aRCRD&vgnextchannel=96d99a93bc298110VgnVCM1000001382000aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default&pressvcmid=9fbda96c2e289110VgnVCM1000001382000aRCRD&keyword=Singapore&dateFrom=null&dateTo=null&model=null&business=null&matchCriteria=null&matchKeyword=any&fromSearchPage=true&businessIndex=null&=modelIndex=null#. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  19. Designation-Systems.net: AN/APR to AN/APS - Equipment Listing
  20. Moss, Trefor (March 2010). "Helicopters return to Singapore following integration training". 
  21. "Kitty Hawk, Allies Complete Malabar Exercise". United States Navy. September 2007. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=31737. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  22. "Statement by Admiral Gary Roughead Chief of Naval Operations Before The House Armed Services Committee On The Cooperative Strategy For 21st Century Seapower" (PDF). United States Navy. December 2007. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/08489C1_Statement_13DEC07_HASC_CNO_Maritime_Strategy_final.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  23. "Exercise Malabar 07-2 Kicks Off". United States Navy. September 2007. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=31691. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  24. "Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean Witnesses Inaugural Aster Missile Live Firing". MINDEF. April 2008. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2008/apr/03apr08_nr.html. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  25. Boey, David (2008-04-03). "S'pore Navy's first surface-to-air missile firing a success". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. 
  26. "RIMPAC Touted as Largest Maritime Exercise in the World". United States Navy. July 2008. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=38312. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  27. "Republic of Singapore Navy Participates in RIMPAC For First Time". Aviation Weekly - Ares. July 2008. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a0b070b45-b277-4885-b067-3192fdd4dd85&plckCommentSortOrder=TimeStampAscending. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  28. "Singapore Navy's Inaugural Participation in Rim of the Pacific Exercise". Ministry of Defence Singapore. July 2008. http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080727994.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  29. "Singapore warship makes mark in 10-nation drill". Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore. July 2008. http://app.mfa.gov.sg/pr/read_content.asp?View,10719,. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  30. "Singapore's Steadfast successfully fires Harpoon missile". July 2008. 
  31. Scott, Richard (November 2009). "Singapore establishes 'Peace Triton' helicopter training unit in US". 
  32. Moss, Trefor (March 2010). "Singapore's Seahawk integration programme concludes successfully". 
  33. "Speech by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at the Committee of Supply Debate 2012". MINDEF. 6 March 2012. http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2012/mar/06mar12_nr2/06mar12_speech.html. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 

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