As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Vice Admiral Axel Schimpf
The German Navy aims to maintain a continuous contribution to operations, including Operation Active Endeavour, Operation UNIFIL, and EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta as well as the Standing NATO Maritime Groups.
All such commitments share the common characteristics of long durations, long transit times to theater, low demand for “classic” or principle warfare areas, high operational tempos, asymmetric threats—and the resulting demand for special operations—plus the close interdependency of maritime operations and operations ashore.
From those characteristics the German Navy drew various conclusions for designs of its future warships. First, the allocation of specialized tasks to a certain type of platform across its entire service life is no longer feasible. Second, a vessel’s specialization in certain warfare areas does not meet the requirements of modern-day conflicts. Third, the mismatch between duration of operations and transit times must be resolved.
We therefore must be able to:
• Adapt and modify the capability of any future platform to match specific requirements across the entire range of potential operations.
• Change crews during deployments (sea swaps).
• Deploy for periods of up to 24 months without routine maintenance or scheduled repairs.
The most prominent solution is our new Class 125 frigate project. This ship is specifically designed for low-intensity operations such as stabilization operations. She can also provide fire support to operations ashore, can operate against asymmetric threats, and will support special operations. Most important, we no longer assign a ship her dedicated crew; using sea swaps thus facilitates required long-term deployments.
The Class 180 multirole combat ship will take those ideas one step further. Not only will the design incorporate multicrew concepts, she also will be highly modular. Core capabilities alone will enable her to operate at the lower end of the operational spectrum. Mission modularity will facilitate operational employment across a wider range of tasks.
On entering service, these types will form the backbone of the future German Navy. Other key procurement decisions to be taken in the foreseeable future—pertaining to, for example, autonomous underwater vehicles, maritime unmanned aircraft systems, or helicopters—will have to complement the design philosophy accordingly and might well serve as additional mission modules.
Reducing core capabilities and relying heavily on mission modules to cater to more intense or more diverse operational requirements will enable us to comply with the budgetary restraints we all have to address now and in the future.