UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


MKS 180 K131 Corvette 131

While saving drastically on naval forces, the Navy was considering a ship shortage for international missions. In early 2009 initial studies on a future surface combatant ship began. Independent studies supported the project with a concept paper "Operational requirements K131" for a ship type which should enter service within 10 years, equipped for a range of applications in 2050. The manning of an appropriate vessel was in the range of around 100 people. The corresponding studies showed that the modular design required a ship's size, which was expected to have 5,000 tons displacement, well above a typical size corvette. In less thana decade, the projected displacement nearly doubled.

The size of the new warships was impressive compared to previous ships of the German Navy, because among other things they need enough space for the different modules. The naval planners calculated a length of around 155 meters and a water displacement of up to 9,000 tons for the MKS multi-purposecombat ship. For comparison: the frigates of the Baden-Württemberg class are a good five meters shorter and almost 2,000 tons smaller. And these ships are almost twice the size of the Bremen-class frigates. From the Baden-Württemberg class frigates, which the Navy would be putting into service this year, the MKS multi-purposecombat ship would take on some features - above all automation and low maintenance of the technical systems, as well as the multi-crew concept. This would also allow these new ships to remain in the area of ??operation for up to two years, while the approximately 110-strong crew rotates every four months. In addition to this regular crew, there are up to 70 people who specialize in the mission modules.

In May 2011 the Inspector of the Navy decided that work carried out so far under the working title "Korvette 131" for a new warship class for the German Navy was to continue under the name Multi-role Combat Ship 180 (Mehrzweckkampfschiff - MKS 180). This logical step reflects the fact that the new ship class has not followed the established notions of a classic Corvette, but rather represents a new way of flexible tasks.

The most likely tasks of the Bundeswehr would be the international conflict prevention and crisis management, including the fight against international terrorism as part of a Bundeswehr common and capabilities-based approach in the new structure. For the German Navy this means that they must be able to worldwide and permanently in a multinational framework and be able to operate from foreign shores under threat. This includes in particular the continuous use for "security in the maritime area."

The quantitative requirements of the Navy for the class 180 was six units. This number was derived from the operational requirement that the vessels are to be used simultaneously on three different operations with a mission life of two years in consideration of a multi-crew concept.

The daily operational reality shows that not only that mission scenarios can be quickly overtaken by reality, but that it can even be very difficult to define the boundaries between conflict prevention and crisis management. The design of a new platform for a specific mission profile was therefore no longer useful. However, it was neither reasonable nor feasible to design a platform for all kinds of tasks or for an extremely wide application profile. The capabilities of future task forces must be put together modularly as needed and also flexibly adjusted during use and possibly before.

The basis for all current and future work on FMD 180 are the operational requirements of the Navy needs carrier. The predetermined by the Inspector of the Navy capability profile defined three design-determining tasks to be performed by the ships:

  • Monitoring and mastering of rooms, facilities and lines of communication at sea and in the air (Example: Operation Atalanta in the Horn of Africa),
  • Performing embargo measures (Example: Operation Sharp Guard in the Adriatic),
  • National emergency (example: evacuation operation in Cote D'ivore)

Specifically, these requirements mean that self-protection of the maritime surveillance, interception of sea targets and carrying out of investigations (eg. suspicious merchant vessels) in the appropriate mandated missions determining core design capabilities of MKS 180.

In addition, the embarkation of naval protection forces must be possible and the use of divers supported. For boarding and operation of this mission modules, a boarding contingent of 70 soldiers was required, with a number of vacancies in the operations center and the corresponding reserves and interfaces for air conditioning / ventilation, electricity, internal and external communications are on board spaces.

The MKS180 basically was intended to provide in numbers what the F125 was too pricey for. The two classes together would make up a 10-ship flotilla which, combined with an identical rotation factor of 2.5, would essentially take over the socalled Dauereinsatzaufgaben (DEA), the "permanent missions". These missions are currently and for the next 20 years intended to be: fleet ASW (in SNMG), anti-piracy MIO missions (e.g. Atalanta), SIGINT sea surveillance (e.g. OAE), mixed surveillance/MIO (e.g. UNIFIL).

The Navy plans for a parallel four ships deployed in such DEA as its Level of Ambition in the Future Navy Concept 2025+, i.e. exactly what that 10-ship flotilla was supposed to be capable of. The modularity of MKS180 and the command and NGFS capabilities of F125 adds some additional possible DEA missions for the future, drawn from experience in past missions (pointing out in particular the OP Southern Flank MIW mission and the DR Congo and Somalia offshore command/support site mission). K130 instead would join F123 and F124 in the high-intensity warfare flotilla (of twelve ships).

The budget remained a bit hazy/conflicting, as a whole it seemed to be a roughly two billion Euro project for six ships. By June 2015 Germany planned to spend 3.9 billion euros on four multipurpose warships, with the Defense Ministry welcoming bids from across Europe. The first should be delivered in 2023.

In March 2018 the country’s largest shipbuilder was barred from the competition to supply the next generation of German warships. Faced with a program plagued by manufacturing problems, including a new warship that listed, the German defense ministry has taken the unprecedented step of excluding a consortium led by the company, part of the ThyssenKrupp industrial conglomerate, from the bidding process. The decision was disclosed in a notice sent to the firm’s shipyards by the ministry’s purchasing agency. The government did not trust ThyssenKrupp and its partner, Lürrsen shipyards, to build the new Multi-role Combat Ship 180 (MKS 180 for short), which was designed to operate anywhere in the world, including in polar seas. The agency also said the consortium’s proposed price of €4 billion ($4.9 billion) for four warships was too high. The government’s decision meant the construction of the MKS 180s was likely to go to one of two foreign-owned consortia: Damen Shipyards in Holland or German Naval Yards, which was owned by the French-Lebanese businessman Iskander Safa.

On 08 August 2018 thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and German Naval Yards Kiel entered into an exclusive cooperation agreement for the further bidding process in the MKS 180 multi-role combat ship procurement project for the German Navy. Dr. Rolf Wirtz, CEO of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems: "We are bringing our decades of experience and expertise in naval shipbuilding to this partnership. We will strengthen the German Naval Yards bid in particular through the know-how of our engineers in integrating on-board systems of all kinds and their experience with the intensive use concept, a key requirement for the MKS 180 frigates. Our joint bid will secure the preservation of naval surface shipbuilding as a key technology for Germany. The awarding of the contract to German Naval Yards would secure jobs not only at our company but also to a significant degree at other German suppliers."

German Naval Yards Kiel was participating in the MKS 180 award procedure as a general contractor. On the basis of the cooperation agreement, if German Naval Yards Kiel were to win the contract thyssenkrupp Marine Systems would perform a substantial share of the required development and engineering work as a subcontractor. In a next step it was expected that the German defense procurement agency BAAINBw would send the remaining bidders in the MKS 180 award procedure a precise specification for the naval vessels and request a best and final offer (BAFO). On this basis thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and German Naval Yards Kiel would work together to submit a convincing best and final offer. A final decision in the award procedure was not expected before 2019.

The Schleswig-Holstein shipyard GERMAN NAVAL YARDS KIEL (GNYK) and Dutch shipbuilder Damen were invited on 12 April 2019 to submit its final bid for the development, design and construction of the multi-purpose warship 180 (MKS 180) for the German Bundeswehr. The shipyards now had three months to prepare the final bid together with thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and the German supply industry.

"We are delighted that we are now entering the final phase," says Jörg Herwig, Managing Director of GERMAN NAVAL YARDS KIEL. "We are extremely motivated and are working flat out to make the best possible offer for the German Navy and our soldiers. The project was of immense importance for German industry, because the decision to award the contract for the MKS 180 also determines whether the German naval industry can remain the technology leader in surface shipbuilding in the long term."

Since summer 2015, GNYK engineers have been taking part in the competition to build the next generation of ships for the Bundeswehr. In August 2018, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems was involved as a partner in the bid. In particular, the thyssenkrupp engineers would contribute their experience in integrating the weapons deployment system and in the intensive usability of the ships. "By combining our capabilities and expertise, we can precisely meet the requirements of the German Ministry of Defense as a customer," explained Herwig.

GNYK was the only remaining German general contractor in the European competition of the German Navy. In addition to thyssenkrupp, GNYK integrates numerous other well-known German suppliers from the naval and defense industry into its product range. If the contract was awarded, GNYK would completely implement the development and design of the MKS 180 in Germany. The design rights and know-how for the construction would also remain in Germany.

The requirements bring the ships’ displacement to around 9,000 tons and their length to 155 meters, according to latest navy estimates. The core crew of the ships would be a complement of 110 while an additional 70 crew would be in charge of the mission modules.

The German government announced 14 January 2020 its intention to select Damen as the main contractor, together with partners Blohm + Voss and Thales, for supplying at least four Multi-Purpose Combat Ship MKS 180 frigates to the German Navy. The result of the evaluation process by the German Government awaits parliamentary approval in Germany. The ships would be built at Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg and at other shipyard locations of the North German Lürssen Group. Damen intends to build in this way in order to spend around 80% of the total net investment as added value in Germany. The same applies to the electronic application systems that are supplied by Thales Nederland to its own design. Around 70% of the services would be provided by the German subsidiary of Thales and by other German subcontractors. The MKS 180 project contributes to securing the export power and self-creation of both Dutch and German naval construction in the longer term. The project also opens perspectives for the requested European (defence equipment) cooperation.

The first MKS 180 ship was to enter service in 2027 following a two-year delay.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 14-01-2020 17:49:42 ZULU