Plataforma estratégica de superficie (PES)
Strategic Surface Platform (PES)
In March 2015 the Colombian Navy unveiled requirements for its future fleet of frigates - Plataforma Estratégica de Superficie (PES - Strategic Surface Platform). The acquisitions are part of the Navy’s “Force Planning 2030” which aims to strengthen the institution’s control over Colombia’s coastlines through the establishment of an integrated coastal surveillance radar system and the acquisition of eight strategic surface platforms displacing between 3,000 and 5,000 tons. The new frigates will replace the Navy’s existing FS 1500 Almirante Padilla class ships, which are slated for retirement in 2024/2025.
The frigates would be equipped with long-range vertical launch systems (VLS) for air defense, surface warfare systems, missiles with ranges greater than 180 kilometers, anti-submarine warfare systems, and a variable depth sonar. The vessels should have a range of approximatelyof 4,000-7,000 nautical miles and endurance of 30 days and be able to maintain a speed of approximately 27-30 knots. The vessels should also be designed with a low radar signature.
According to Admiral Hernando Wills Vélez, Chief of the Colombian Navy (2013–2015), the Navy was seeking multimission frigates to operate in the Atlantic and the Pacific, independently or as part of a task force in time of peace or war, during high-intensity conflicts, and under multiple threats. The Navy is going through historic moments, the current national situation makes it necessary to project an institutional future that guarantees to Colombia adequate Navy with capabilities that allow the country to protect its maritime interests and established as a medium power of regional projection.
The Admiral recalled that operational plans of the institution are geared towards maritime control and the defense of national sovereignty, reinforcing in addition, and on an ongoing basis, the means for fighting narcotics and responding to "off-shore" security (future sea exploration) , and for comprehensive safety at sea and river of the nation.
The evolution of strategic capabilities of the Navy, have been developed through Orion, bridge and Lighthouse plans, the first two enabling the modernization and then sustaining the force until the year 2019 with the addition of two OPV-80, three CPV-46 and two BDA; and the latter, Lighthouse, the project that will renew the strategic capabilities through the design and construction of the future strategic platforms of surface (PES), as well as the submarine fleet renewal and strengthening of the amphibious capabilities and that of the Coast Guard.
According to Admiral Wills, the PES project aims to develop a multi-mission frigate that can operate anywhere in the world, but particularly in the coasts Atlantic and Pacific Colombian, as standalone or as part of a task force national or international, in time of peace or war and in high-intensity conflicts or asymmetrical and may therefore face or face m multiple threats.
The PES will have a displacements between 3,000 to 5,000 tons, with preferably VLS air defense systems, systems of surface equipped with missiles with ranges greater than 180 kilometers that can reach coastal targets; with anti-submarine warfare (AWS) systems based on sonar hull and variable depth; with ranges from 4000 to 7000 nautical miles; with a range of 30 days approximately and at speeds ranging from 27 to 30 knots.
The design of the ship will have a very low radar signature infrared, acoustic and magnetic preferring an integrated mast, as well as systems ART/UAV, flexibilities for configuration and a reduced crew.
The Navy will define in 2016 the conceptual design and in 2017 the contractual design of the PES, counting for it with one or two strategic allies, one for the platform and a second for electronics and combat systems, and either develop an existing design by modifying it to needs, or create a completely new one. The vessel's first prototype should be ready for 2026 and fully operational to 2027, an initial batch of four ships and a second in four others for a total of eight PES.
This raised of a number (8) of frigates for the operational performance of assigned missions, as well as the possible acquisition of two (second, probably of the German type FFG class Bremen) due to withdrawal for the 2024/25 of the current FS1500, with a view to the incorporation of the first PES in the 2027 / 2028, makes evident the need to incorporate a couple of ships to temporarily supplement the requirements until the entry into operation of the PES all.
It would be important to have the experience of shipyard Navantia, Damen or DCNS, recent protagonists in processes of construction of various military vessels (frigates, submarines, etc), estimating is also the incorporation of latest generation combat management systems n such as the BAE Systems CMS-1 and the Thales TCMS tactical, both of great interest for the ARC.
Equally, new artillery systems considered including models as the BAE Systems 127 mm. MK-45 or the Oto Melara 127/64 Lightweight and, of course, with anti-ship systems, the C-Star (SSM - 700 K HAE SUNG-I) still the most likely, although it would be also evaluated the MBDA MM-40 Exocet Block-3
With respect to other systems, Colombia would consid defenses of the types MBDA aspic or Raytheon AIM-7 Sea Sparrow, as well as the RIM - 162 ESSM, the MBDA Mica, MBDA Aster 15 and 30 and the BAE Mk-41, these last from vertical launchers (24-cell VLS), as well as Thales Goalkeeper CIWS system, ruling out Raytheon Phalanx by sale to Colombia not available.
There is also interest in the module of the integrated mast of Thales IM-400, with ART/UAV (remotely manned aircraft), possibly of the AeroVironment RQ-20 PUMA types or systems Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, a new naval air station platform, that from here we already anticipate that it will be the helicopter Sikorsky SH/MH-60 Seahawk (S-70B) , and finally probably powered by a hybrid propulsion system of two engines (Wärtsilä) with speeds up to 30 knots.
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