IDEX/NAVDEX 2023: UAE Navy and ADSB unveils latest model of Falaj 3
The Falaj-3 Class Combatant Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) being built by ADSB (Abu Dhabi Ship Building), part of the EDGE Group, for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Naval Forces will be of the latest model have enhanced air defense capabilities of the platform displayed at the Naval Service booth in the NAVDEX naval area during the IDEX/NADEX 2023 exhibition.
A keel-laying ceremony for the first-of-class Falaj-3 ship was held and attended ahead of schedule on February 16, 2023 at ADSB facilities under the auspices of Rear-Admiral Pilot Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Commander of Naval Forces shared by Naval Staff Brigadier Abdullah Faraj Al Mehairbi, Deputy Commander of the UAE Naval Forces, and Mansour Almulla, Managing Director and CEO of EDGE, as well as several other dignitaries.
The new model of the Falaj 3 Combatant OPV presented during the NAVDEX exhibition. EDR On-Line assumed this to be the ships’ latest design, but no additional information was released by the shipyard or the customer. It is designed to have a reduced radar cross section, infrared and acoustic signatures compared to the original model shown in the previous edition of IDEX/NAVDEX 2021 and features a new ship’s fore section located aft of the 76/62 -mm main gun houses a single row of eight vertical surface-to-air missile launchers. EDR On-Line identified them as belonging to the MBDA VL MICA system, although no comments or confirmations come from the shipyard and missile manufacturer.
This represents a significant increase in multi-layered air defense capabilities for the 60 meter long design, which according to published data has a beam of 9.5 meters for a full load displacement of 641 tons and a maximum draft of 3.4 meters at the propellers. The propulsion package consists of four diesel engines connected via the same number of shafts with four propellers with two vertical rudders (at the more outboard propeller position) capable of a top speed of over 26 knots and a range of 2,000 nm at 16 knots . Power is supplied by four generators with an output of 1.2 MW. With 39 employees, the new ships are equipped with an integrated platform management system to monitor and control all platform systems from a single point. It is also equipped with an RHIB that is launched and recovered from a covered station to contribute to a reduced ship signature.
The new model has an integrated mast amidships that houses the multi-function surveillance radar, various antennas and electro-optical sensors, and the integrated radar ESM/communications ESM (RESM/CESM) antenna. The forward main bridge is surmounted by the gunfire control system, while the ship’s aft area sees an open area below decks housing the inclined launchers for anti-ship missiles to reduce the overall ship signature and inner layer missile defense system. The ship’s stern is manned by two trainable multiple rocket launchers (on the model presented in 2021, one of them was installed in the bow area on a small superstructure behind the main gun), the electro-optical (E/O) fire control systems are positioned on the integral mast.
Combat system integration and major equipment are provided by Leonardo, although neither the shipbuilder nor Leonardo comment or confirm the information. The Italian group will provide and integrate the latest generation hardware and software package ATHENA C Mk2 CMS in a customized iteration to meet the needs of the UAE Naval Forces. The predecessor model of the ATHENA CMS is installed on board the Abu Dhabi Falaj 2 and Ghannatha ship classes, which are in service with the naval forces of the United Arab Emirates. The internal/external communication suite should be provided by Rohde & Schwarz and based on the NAVICS solution, although the supplier does not provide any comments or confirmations. Leonardo is also expected to deliver the Multi Datalink Processor (MDLP) for managing data link interaction and information distribution, as well as the new generation IFF interrogator and transponder, meaning the SIR-MC EVO and M-428 equipment respectively .
The sensor suite managed by the ATHENA C Mk2 CMS focuses on the main 3D multifunction radar Kronos Naval High Power (Kronos NV HP) supplied by Leonardo. The C-band Kronos NV HP version is equipped with an actively electronically scanned array antenna, which has an increased number of transceiver modules based on GaAs technology compared to the original base model of Kronos family radars. This enables improved performance as well as higher availability and improved graceful degradation capacity.
The EW suite, also installed by Elettronica on the two Bani Yas class (Gowind 2500) corvettes to be supplied by Naval Group as prime contractor to the UAE Naval Forces, is based on the latest RESM/CESM suite Generation characterized by a new integration antenna with limited footprint to accommodate on small displacement vessels with reduced radar cross section. The sensor suite also includes the Leonardo NA-30S Mk2 dual-band radar/electro-optical fire control system for the 76/62mm main gun, along with two E/O fire control systems for the same number of Halcon LOGIR (Low-cost Guided Imaging Rocket ) and other electronics. The Falaj 3 OPVs are also expected to be fitted with two Rheinmetall Defense MASS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) decoy launchers in a configuration which, according to the latest model shown, is also fitted with Dueras missile decoys.
As expected, the main armament difference from the previously exhibited model is the addition of a vertical-launched surface-to-air missile package based on the MBDA VL MICA. The same system has also been identified as equipping the two Bani Yas classes (Gowind 2500) to be supplied by the Naval Group to the UAE Naval Forces, the first-of-class of which recently conducted its first sea trials. The Falaj-3 platforms can therefore perform multiple and simultaneous operations thanks to the VL MICA launchers and the Raytheon Mk 49 RAM anti-aircraft and asymmetric threat counter-launch system capable of launching both Block 1A and Block 2 RIM-116 missiles attached missiles will cope with versions procured by the UAE Naval Forces.
The Leonardo 76/62mm Super Rapido main gun, EDR On-Line understood although the model does not show it, comes in the latest multi-feeding configuration equipped with the Strales kit consisting of the radio frequency guidance system , mainly to manage DART-guided munitions to counter anti-ship missiles, which are also equipped on the Bani Yas-class corvettes. Multiple and simultaneous asymmetric surface and airborne threats can also be dealt with by the two trainable launchers for the Halcon LOGIR missile system, equipped with 12 fire-and-forget IIR-guided rounds manufactured by EDGE Group Company deployed and deployed on the UAE Naval Armed Forces ships. For shorter-range defense, the new model features two remote-controlled cannons identified by EDR On-Line with the Australian EOS R400-M turrets armed with the 30mm Northrop Grumman M230LF cannon carried on UAE- Naval forces spread as shown on platforms docked in the NAVDEX area.
Photos courtesy of L. Peruzzi