Norwegian Defense Ministry Accelerates Upgrade of Its Skjold-Class Stealth Corvettes
Norwegian Defense Ministry Accelerates Upgrade of Its Skjold-Class Stealth Corvettes

Norwegian Defense Ministry Accelerates Upgrade of Its Skjold-Class Stealth Corvettes

Norwegian Defense Ministry has announced it would bring forward the NOK 500 million upgrade of its Skjold-class stealth corvettes. The upgrade will take place in the period 2020-2024 and will provide additional work to both the shipyard and other national subsystem suppliers. The work will include upgrading components and several of the on-board systems. The Norwegian government wants to support the defense industry during this difficult period and will accelerate defense investments for more than NOK 1 billion. This is one of several measures to partially compensate for the loss of HNoMS Helge Ingstad Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate of the Royal Norwegian Navy. On 8 November 2018, HNoMS Helge Ingstad collided with the tanker Sola TS in Norwegian waters just outside Sture Terminal. In June 2019, it was decided that she would be scrapped.

The new long-term plan for the Armed Forces recommends maintaining the Skjold-class stealth corvettes in service until 2030. Skjold-class corvettes (skjold means “shield” in Norwegian) are a class of six large, superfast, stealth missile corvettes in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy. The Skjold-class vessels began with the development of the Royal Norwegian Navy’s “Project SMP 6081”, and the first preproduction version was ordered on 30 August 1996. The boats were formerly classed as motor torpedo boats but, from 2009, the Royal Norwegian Navy has described them as corvettes because their seaworthiness is seen as comparable to corvettes, and because they do not carry torpedoes. They were built at the Umoe Mandal yard. With a maximum speed of 60 knots (110 km/h), the Skjold-class corvettes were the fastest combat ships afloat at the time of their introduction.

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Skjold-class corvettes in harbour at Umoe Mandal shipyard, Norway.
Skjold-class stealth corvettes in harbour at Umoe Mandal shipyard, Norway.

The Skjold design is a surface effect craft, constructed of glass fibre/carbon composite materials. Buoyancy is augmented underway by a fan-blown skirted compartment between the two rigid catamaran-type hulls. This provides an alternative solution to the planing hull/vee hull compromise: the air cushion reduces wave slam at high speeds while presenting a low-drag flat planing profile at the waterline. To ensure stealth capabilities, anechoic coatings of radar absorbent materials (RAM) have been used in the load-bearing structures over large areas of the ship. This strategy leads to significant weight saving compared to the conventional construction technique of applying RAM cladding to the external surfaces. The vessels are additionally protected by the Rheinmetall MASS sensor / decoy system.

The vessels use 4 gas turbines combined by Renk COGAG gear units built in a lightweight design. The smaller gas turbines rated 2,000 kW turbines are used for cruising speed. For sprint speed a second, larger gas turbine is combined providing a total of 6,000 kW to the waterjet on each shaft line. Two MTU 123 cruise diesel propulsion units used previously at loiter speeds were removed. The foredeck was strengthened to accommodate the addition of a 76 mm Otobreda Super Rapid gun. The hull material was produced by a different method to improve strength and minimize vulnerability to fire. The bridge saw some changes, including an upgrade to six weapon systems control consoles.

Norwegian Defense Ministry Accelerates Upgrade of Its Skjold-Class Stealth Corvettes
Norway has announced it would bring forward the NOK 500 million upgrade of its Skjold-class corvettes, and the NOK 600 million acquisition of 20 additional CV90 armored vehicles pending the upgrade of the entire fleet of these vehicles to support its industry. (Norway MoD photo)
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