Surface Forces: December 5, 1999


Bollinger Shipyards has received a $5.1 million Navy contract to refit three Cyclone-class patrol combatants with features improving their ability to conduct special operations. The Combat Craft Retrieval System will extend the three ships by 9 feet, providing them with a stern ramp that can launch and recover the rubber boats used by SEAL teams. (This feature was built into the 14th and last ship of the class.) --Stephen V Cole

When Spain places its new F100 frigates into service in 2002, they will be Europe's most dangerous warships due to their US-built Aegis radar systems, identical to those on the DDG-51 series. The Mark-41 vertical launch system (48 cells) is the "deep silo" version able to handle the Tomahawk land-attack missile, although Spain insists that it has no interest in this weapon. With Aegis, these will be the only warships in Europe able to operate in the anti-ballistic missile role, although Spain insists that it has no interest in such a mission Besides the vertical launch system, the ships will mount eight Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a 127mm gun, and a short-range anti-missile defense system (the exact selection of which appears to be under debate).At 6,000 tons, these ships are destroyers, not frigates, but Spanish politics insists on the less offensive-sounding name. The first of the ships is ahead of schedule and under budget, and the original order for four ships will all but certainly be extended to six or eight. At $400 million, they are far cheaper than DDG-51s. --Stephen V Cole


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