The German Navy has held a christening ceremony for the first of a new batch of K130 corvettes it has been building since 2019. Köln (F265) is the sixth ship of the Braunschweig-class corvette of the German Navy. Köln’s construction started in February and later laid down on 25 April 2019 by Lürssen-Werft in Bremen. Her forecastle was built by Blohm+Voss and towed to Bremen to be assembled and launched on 20 October 2020. As of 31 October 2020, she is fitting out at Hamburg. Future FGS Köln was christened in a ceremony at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg on April 21. She will be expected to be commissioned in 2023.
The K130 (sometimes Korvette 130 or Braunschweig class) is Germany’s newest class of ocean-going corvettes or for the force projection capability “Offshore patrol vessel” (even without an Battelship commander according to the Germany Navy Norms). Five ships have replaced the Gepard-class fast attack craft of the German Navy. In October 2016 it was announced that a second batch of five more corvettes is to be procured from 2022–25. The decision was in response to NATO requirements expecting Germany to provide a total of four corvettes at the highest readiness level for littoral operations by 2018, and with only five corvettes just two can be provided.
In September 2017, the German Navy commissioned the construction of five more corvettes in a consortium of North German shipyards. Lürssen will be the main contractor in the production of the vessels. The contract is worth around 2 billion euros. In April 2018, the German government announced the specific arrangements under which the five new K130s would be built. Plans to build a third batch (i.e. ships 11-15) are under consideration, ships from the first batch (i.e. ships 1-5) would be decommissioned from 2025 and sold to a NATO ally in order to avoid modernization costs. K130 corvettes also share their design with the SA’AR 6 corvettes Germany delivered to Israel in 2021.
The K130 class feature reduced radar and infrared signatures (“stealth” beyond the Sachsen-class frigates) and will be equipped with two helicopter UAVs for remote sensing. Recently, the German Navy ordered a first batch of two UMS Skeldar V-200 systems for the use on the Braunschweig-class corvettes. The German Navy has ordered the RBS-15 Mk4 in advance, which will be a future development of the Mk3 with increased range —400 km (250 mi)— and a dual seeker for increased resistance to electronic countermeasures. The RBS-15 Mk3 has the capability to engage land targets. The 90-meter ships are equipped with two 27 mm Mauser MLG27 remote-controlled, fully-automatic cannons, and one OTO Melara 76 mm gun. The corvettes will also be operating the V-200 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).