The Dutch Ministry of Defense plans to upgrade its four De Zeven Provinciën–class guided-missile frigates so that they can play a larger role in NATO ballistic-missile defense. The modernization effort, announced in late 2011, includes significant improvements to the SMART-L early-warning radar carried on board the frigates, enabling them to detect and track ballistic missiles at extended ranges. The Netherlands does not plan to acquire the SM-3 surface-to-air interceptor missiles that could be used to engage ballistic missiles, but the tracking and detection data could be passed on to other sea- or land-defense assets, including the U.S. Navy’s BMD-capable warships, which could be used to engage a ballistic threat. The frigate upgrades are scheduled for completion by late 2017 on board all four sisters of the class: De Zeven Provinciën, De Ruyter, Evertsen, and Tromp, pictured here alongside the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).
By Eric Wertheim