Danish Shepherds

If you have been under a rock, perhaps you have missed the beautiful Danish frigates of the Absalon and Iver Huitfeldt classes of late. Let us catch up on that.

The two 449-foot/6600-ton Absalons (Absalon F341 and Esbern Snare F342) are more of an FF design, carrying a 100~ man crew but fairly well-armed for the type, carrying typically a long-barreled 5″/62 MK 45 (tell me again why the USN’s LCS and FFG classes do not have these?) 36 Enhanced Sea Sparrows in a MK 48/56 VLS, 16 Harpoons, 2 35mm CIWS, 4 Mk 32 ASW torpedo tubes, and two large EH-101/MH60 helicopters. They also have the capability to carry a company-sized light infantry unit for short periods. Using a diesel suite, they are kinda slow (24 knots) but have long legs, ideal for overseas expeditionary work such as in counter-piracy, blockades, and disaster response.

Speaking of which, Esbern Snare has been busy in exercises with the Finnish Navy in the Baltic…

Danish frigate Esbern Snare exercises with the patrol vessel Tornio of the Finnish fleet

…And escorting commercial vessels carrying material, vehicles, and armor from Denmark to Latvia to beef up NATO’s Baltic flank.

Importantly, this comes as the Russians warn that NATO transports found in Ukraine will be a target of war.

NATO’s vehicles transporting weapons for the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Ukraine’s territory will be destroyed, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a video conference meeting on Wednesday.

“The United States and NATO allies continue to flood Ukraine with weapons. I would like to point out that we view all NATO vehicles that arrive in the country carrying weapons and supplies for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as legitimate military targets,” he pointed out.

Then we have the newer Iver Huitfeldt FFGs (Iver Huitfeldt F361, Peter Willemoes F362, and Niels Juel F363) which use the same hull as the Absalons, but with a CODAD suite able to hit 30-knots. With better sensors (Thales/ SMART-L and APAR) they need larger crews (165) but have the ability to pack 32 SM-2s in a MK 41 VLS system, 24 ESSMs in a MK 56 VLS, 16 Harpoons, two (yes two) 76mm OTOs (still bigger than the single 57mm carried by USN FFGs and LCSs), a 35mm CIWS, and twin sets of ASW torpedo tubes. With all this extra kit, they have a reduced amount of real estate for aviation, only being able to accommodate a single MH-60-sized helicopter. Likewise, they can’t schlep an infantry company around, at least not for more than a couple of hours.

This week, Niels Juel installed her first SM-2s-– the first time such a missile has been on a Danish ship– and last night fired a couple of SM-2 Block IIIAs in first of class testing.

As noted by the Danish Admiralty:

It is a very important milestone to have the missiles tested on our frigates of Iver Huitfeldt class. When we subsequently get the missiles installed on the three frigates in the class, one can seriously utilize these units for what they were originally purchased and designed for, namely area air defense. The frigates already have radars and other sensors and a well-trained crew, which together enable the frigates to monitor an airspace closely and accurately and quickly detect enemy aircraft or missiles. With the SM-2 missiles, the frigates will be able to shoot down these possibly enemy aircraft and missiles at a longer distance, and they will thus make a significant contribution to e.g. the air force of Denmark. It simply makes the frigates better for air defense, which is important in relation to the defense of Denmark and supports the demand from NATO.

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