The Colombian navy has completed modernization of its four FS 1500–class frigates, also known as the Almirante Padilla class. The Almirante Padilla (pictured here), Caldas, Antioquia, and Independiente were originally built by Howaldstwerke in Kiel, Germany, and entered service in the early 1980s. The class was refitted during the 1990s, and the contract for this latest modernization effort was signed in 2009. The current upgrades, carried out as a cooperative effort between Colombia’s Cotecmar shipyard, France’s DCNS, and Thales included installation of the SMART-S Mk-2 surveillance radar, and the STING Mk-2 and Mirador electro-optic weapons-control systems. The class’s defensive weapons and sensor fit were enhanced as well with the addition of the VIGILE 200S electronic-support system and the Terma Soft Kill Weapon System (SKWS) decoy launcher. Armed with Exocet antiship missiles and the Simbad surface-to-air missile system, the 1,800-ton, 312-foot FS 1500 class also carries torpedo tubes, a 76-mm gun, twin 40-mm antiaircraft guns, and a flight deck for small helicopters.
By Eric Wertheim