The Defence Forces Logistics Command and the Finnish Navy, together with the Defence Forces’ strategic partner Millog, have started preparations for acquiring the capabilities needed to maintain and service Squadron 2020 vessels.
The Ministry of Defence authorised the Finnish Defence Forces to order project support from Millog Ltd to support the project group 20172021. The Millog experts in the project group will work under the guidance of Defence Forces personnel. The project support is connected to Squadron 2020’s construction development and has a total value of 4.6 million euros. The support is included in the Squadron 2020 total budget.
Millog’s support enables creating the necessary maintenance and service capabilities already in the squadron’s planning and construction phases. The project ensures the transfer of knowledge from the planning phase to all the way through the life cycle of Squadron 2020. At the same time the experts are supporting the creation of the capability and for their their part ensure that the project advances.
Squadron 2020 project multirole corvettes.
The 7.5 million euro design contract for four multi-role corvettes, follows the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the Defence Forces and RMC in September 2016.
Under the contract, RMC will further define the vessel concept and produce the basic design material which is required for manufacturing the vessels. The contract to actually construct the vessels is scheduled to be signed in the course of 2018.
In early April, Finland also announced the names of three shortlisted combat system bidders for the vessels. German Atlas Elektronik GmbH, the Canadian Lockheed Martin Canada Inc and the Swedish Saab Ab were down-selected for further consideration.
Squadron 2020 vessels are expected to be capable of surface warfare operations, naval mine and anti-submarine warfare, in addition to command and control capabilities and the ability to stay at sea for prolonged times in all weather and ice conditions.
In addition to minelayer, FNS Pohjanmaa, which has already been decommissioned, the vessels of the Squadron 2020 project will replace four fast attack missile craft of the Rauma class and two minelayers of the Hämeenmaa class. The total cost of the project has been estimated to be 1.2 billion euros. According to plan, the first vessels will be commissioned in 2021.
The Visby class is the latest class of corvette to be adopted by the Swedish Navy after the Göteborg and Stockholm-class corvettes. The ship’s design heavily emphasizes low visibility, radar cross-section and infrared signature. The first ship in the class is named after Visby, the main city on the island of Gotland. The class has received widespread international attention because of its capabilities as a stealth ship.
The ships are designed by Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and built by Kockums AB. The first ship of the class was launched in 2000 and since then the construction was fraught with repeated delays. Finally in December 2009, the first two ships of the class were delivered to the Swedish Navy by the FMV, albeit with greatly reduced operational capability.
The hull is constructed with a sandwich design consisting of a PVC core with a carbon fibre and vinyl laminate (see also the Oceanic-Creations spin-off). There are multiple advantages to using composite materials in ship hulls. Good conductivity and surface flatness means a low radar signature, while good heat insulation lowers the infrared signature and increases survivability in case of fire. The composite sandwich used is also non-magnetic, which lowers the magnetic signature. Composites are also very strong for their relative weight, and less weight means a higher top speed and better maneuverability. The composite weighs roughly 50% less than the equivalent strength steel. If built with normal steel the ship would weigh in at around 1200 tonnes.
Visby‘s angular design reduces its radar signature (or radar cross section). Jan Nilsson, one of the designers, told BBC News Online: “We are able to reduce the radar cross section by 99%. That doesn’t mean it’s 99% invisible, it means that we have reduced its detection range.” The 57 mm cannon barrel can be folded into the turret to reduce its cross section. There are plans for additional improvements in this area, especially for the deck rails and masts.
Much of the design was based on the experiences learned from the experimental ship HSwMS Smyge. The class was originally designed to be divided into two subcategories where some ships were optimized for surface combat and others for submarine hunting; however, this was changed due to cutbacks.
A helicopter, such as the Agusta Westland A109M selected by Sweden, can land, take off, and refuel on the upper deck. A helicopter hangar was originally planned but was considered to be too cramped and was removed.
The ships took an exceptionally long time from launch to delivery and the construction has been fraught with repeated delays. In 2008, the only weapons system that had been integrated and tested in Visby was the gun.
Finally, on 16 December 2009, the first two of the corvettes were delivered to the Swedish Navy by the Försvarets materielverk (FMV).The two ships, K32 and K33, were delivered with underwater and surface/air sensors fully integrated. However, the only weapon that had been integrated and test fired on the ships was still the Bofors 57 Mk3 gun. The FMV calls this version 4, which aims to get the ships into service and start training crews.
Version 5 is due in 2012, and is intended to supplement the ships with mine clearance systems, helicopter landing capability (only K31 is certified to date), anti-surface ship missiles and additional stealth adaptation. Visby was the first of the corvettes to be upgraded to Version 5. On 22 March 2012 FMV reported that the ship had been modified and that the system would be tested before reentering the Swedish Navy by the end of 2012.
Although the design of the ships originally called for the installation of surface-to-air missiles, on 18 September 2008 the Genomförandegruppen cancelled the project in order to rationalize the procurement of defence materiel for the Swedish defence.
All systems for the ship Uddevalla were acquired, but the ship was later canceled, so there are now plans to build a full Visby class simulator.
PTK Visby is the designation of the formation doing system tests and readying the ships for active service within the Swedish Navy. The formation is under the 3rd Naval Warfare Flotilla but takes its orders from the FMV. The system tests are taking a long time partly because of funding issues and partly because of the novel and cutting-edge nature of the platform.