Work is continuing to progress on Germany’s new Type 125 frigates, known as the Baden-Württemberg class. As pictured here, the bow section of the fourth and final unit, the Rheinland-Pfalz, recently was towed from Lüerssen Shipyard in Wolgast, Germany, to join up with the stern section, which was built in Hamburg by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The first-in-class Baden-Württemberg began her initial sea trials on 6 April, and she subsequently tested her propulsion, sensors, and weapon systems while operating in the North, Skagerrak, and Baltic seas. The two remaining units of the class are in varying stages of construction. The second unit, the Nordrhein-Westfalen, was laid down in late 2012, while the third unit, the Sachsen-Anhalt, was christened in March of this year. The 7,200-ton, 490-foot frigates are expected to begin entering service in 2017. They will be armed with Harpoon antiship missiles, Rolling Airframe Missile launchers, and a 5-inch gun, and will can carry up to two helicopters.
The first of three new Indonesian submarines, reportedly named the Nagabanda, was launched on 24 March in Okpa, South Korea, by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). Based on the German-designed South Korean Type 209 Jang Bogo-class boats that began entering service in the 1990s, the Indonesian Type 209/1400 submarines measure 200 feet, displace around 1,600 tons submerged, and will operate at maximum speeds in excess of 21 knots. The first two vessels, which are due to enter service in 2017 and 2018 respectively, are being built in South Korea, while the third and final unit is expected to be built domestically at PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia. Armed with 8 torpedo tubes and a loadout of up to 14 torpedoes, these new submarines were ordered in December 2011. They join two older German-built Type 209/1300 submarines that entered Indonesian service in the early 1980s.
On 22 March India officially retired the last remaining Sea Harrier vertical/short takeoff-and-landing fighter aircraft from service. Originally ordered under a December 1979 contract, the first Sea Harriers began entering the Indian Navy in late 1982, the same year that the Falklands War solidified the British-designed aircraft’s remarkable reputation. Thirty Indian Sea Harriers were eventually acquired in several batches, but less than a dozen remained operational by early 2016. From the outset the Indian fighters were fitted with Sea Fox radar and armed with French Magic air-to-air missiles instead of the U.S. Sidewinders carried by their British counterparts. Reports indicate that at least some were eventually enhanced with Israeli radars and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles. Additional upgrades, however, were deemed problematic from cost and maintenance perspectives, and the fleet slowly dwindled largely because of a high crash rate. In their stead, new Russian MiG-29K fighters began joining the Indian fleet in the mid-2000s for service on board the next generation of Indian aircraft carriers.
Mr. Wertheim, a defense consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, is the author of the 16th edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, available from the Naval Institute Press (see www.usni.org).