Lockheed Martin is building a special warship for the Greek military called the Hellenic Frigate, a hybrid type of ship intended to excel at both littoral missions as well as blue-water warfare on the open ocean.
The ship, developers say, was specifically tailored to the Hellenic Navy which needs to operate in the Mediterranean Sea and coastal areas for surveillance, security, and countermine missions. It is also an area with many islands as well, creating a need for a multifunctional warship. The Hellenic Frigate operates with a shallow draft, like a U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), yet is also heavily armed with Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) for missiles, guns, and defensive interceptor weapons.
It is armed with eleven VLS cells and a deck-launched, long-range, over-the-horizon Naval Strike Missile as well as 57mm guns and ship-defense weapons such as the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II and Rolling Airframe Missile. It also operates with the ability to fly MH 60 helicopters. It likewise operates with integrated surface warfare and anti-submarine mission packages able to fire deck-mounted guns against small boats or lower variable depth sonar to hunt for submarines.
While more heavily up-gunned than a U.S. Navy LCS, particularly given that it has VLS, the Hellenic Frigate is not quite as large as the U.S. Navy’s new Constellation-class Frigate.
The new Greek ship is also specifically engineered to support and operate within a NATO force by virtue of its embedded electronics, data link connectivity, command and control systems, and computing. The U.S. Navy LCS, for example, is built with a Combat System 21 command and control electronic system which aligns with the well-known and widely used Aegis radar architecture used on Destroyers and Cruisers. This common technological infrastructure enables broad connectivity with data links such as LINK 16 and enables interoperability with key allied platforms such as NATO helicopters, P3 sub-hunting planes, and even F-16 multirole fighter jets.
“Our desire is to have maximum interoperability with NATO ships, so we utilized elements from Aegis such as weapons controls, digital displays, and computing packages,” Joe DePietro, Vice president of Naval Combat and Missile Defense Systems at Lockheed Martin, told the National Interest in an interview.
DePietro explained that the NATO interoperability and multi-mission functionality of the ship is in large measure due to the use of the Aegis combat system common source library. As much as ninety-five percent of the source code and software elements were from Aegis.
“We’ve done integration with other countries and at the same time leveraged the fact that it will be totally interoperable with NATO,” he said.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
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