Defense Media Network

Singapore’s Formidable-class Frigates

Six frigates – Singapore style

Singapore’s six Formidable-class frigates may be based on the French La Fayette-class designed by DCNS, but RSS Formidable and her sisters of 185 Squadron of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) are in a class by themselves.

Despite the island nation’s small size, the RSN has an open ocean capability. The lead ship of class was built at the DCNS yard at Lorient. The next five were built by ST Marine in Singapore.

Formidable class frigates

All six Republic of Singapore Formidable-class frigates conduct a formation exercise. RSN photo

The Formidable-class ships are multimission combatants, with significant range and endurance, meant to be interoperable with multinational task forces. Although based on the French La Fayette, Singapore selected weapons and sensors from around the world for the Formidable-class variants. The integration was conducted by a team of Singapore’s Defense Science and Technology Agency and DSO National Laboratories, Republic of Singapore Navy, Singapore Technologies Electronics, and ST Marine.

Highly automated, the 3,200-ton, 376-foot Formidable-class frigates have a crew of just 72, along with an air detachment of four pilots and 15 maintainers for a Sikorsky S-70 Seahawk, the international version of the SH-60B.

The frigates have the Oto Melara 76 mm gun forward. Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles are mounted amidships within a partially-enclosed SSM deck. Part of this area can be used to carry extra boats instead of the starboard Harpoon canisters. A large crane is used to get the boats in and out of the water. Two B515 triple-tube mounts on each side of the SSM deck can launch the EuroTorp ASW A244/S torpedoes. A 32-cell Sylver vertical launch system (VLS) is forward of the bridge, armed with the MBDA Aster 15 short/medium range surface-air anti-aircraft and anti-missile missile (the ships are also capable of operating the larger, longer range Aster 30). For self-protection, the frigates have port and starboard remotely operated stabilized Mk 38 Mod 2 Typhoon 25 mm guns, which can be operated from the bridge, CIC, or in local control.

RSS Formidable

The Republic of Singapore frigate RSS Formidable (68) off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands during (RIMPAC) 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran

For sensors, the Formidable-class frigates have the ITT Exelis Active Low Frequency Towed Sonar (ALOFTS) System; Thales Herakles multi-function phased array radar mounted on top of the main mast; and an I-band Terma Scanter 2001 surface search and navigation radar.

The ship has a hangar large enough for two medium helicopters. The radar-equipped S-70s are equipped with dipping sonar and can carry the EuroTorp torpedoes.

With four MTU 20V 8000 M90 diesels, delivering a total of 48,000 HP, the frigate can reach 27 knots, but usually cruises at 18 knots. At cruising speed she has a range of 4,200 nm.

The La Fayettes are sort of a “world-ship.” In addition to the French navy, variants have been built for Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, as well as Singapore. The Formidable-class variants are slightly smaller (376 feet long versus 410 feet), have different combat systems, are 2 knots faster, and have longer legs (4,200-nautical-mile range as opposed to 4,000 nautical miles on the La Fayettes) than the other variants.


Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...