Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, USN (Ret): How would you describe your job?
Capt. Claus Andersen: I’m head of the capabilities division in the navy command. In Navy Command Denmark, we have two divisions: planning and operations, and capabilities. The Capability Division is “running the business.” We focus on the resource management, including personnel and also equipment. We’re very much involved in the development of the future Navy. It’s a good job that’s aligned with my previous posting in the Ministry of Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO), and the fact that I’m engineer by trade. I am also the Danish executive committee member in the Maritime Theater Missile Defense (MTMD) Forum.
Can you tell me about Denmark’s aspirations to become an integrated air and missile defense navy?
For Denmark, there are different perspectives. One of those is the capability perspective, and another is also the more strategic perspective about who are our closest allies, and who we cooperate the most with. That’s very important to take into account because one of the most important elements of integrated air and missile defense is interoperability. There’s a tendency to focus on sensors and effectors, but it’s just as important to focus on the interoperability part, and to be able to communicate, coordinate and forward tracks to get a common picture. One of the capabilities we are working on is the TEWA—the threat Evaluation Weapon Allocation system. Being able to acquire a target and create a track and a weapon solution on a one-ship basis is doable. But doing it in a force, it’s actually quite complicated. But that’s the enabler. So that that’s a focus in the MTMD Forum. That’s a lot of what we’re testing in the Formidable Shield series of exercises and in our at-sea demonstrations. We put a lot of effort into it. When you look into the bits and pieces of interoperability in IAMD, it’s time critical. For example, if you have a target coming in, and one ship picks it up and puts a track number on it. Then the next ship picks it up, but it must have the same track number. All of the participating ships need to be in the link system and the tracks need to be real-time. The simple thing of being 100 percent sure that the tracks are correlated, so you can discriminate between targets when you allocate your weapons from the different ships, is not so simple. Being able to acquire and track targets with sensors, use the combat management system to determine a fire control solution, and engage targets with weapons is important, but our focus is very much on the interoperability part. And this is just one example of a part of it.
You can see from our recent deployments that we cooperate a lot with the U.S. But we cooperate with our other NATO partners, too. For example, this ship, the frigate HDMS Niels Juel, has deployed with the French Navy as part of the Charles De Gaulle Carrier Strike Group. And we’re planning on deploying with the Royal Navy’s carrier within a few years.
How do you achieve that interoperability?
If each country uses different methods to discriminate its own tracks and give them numbers and so on, it’s actually quite difficult to correlate – who owns the track? who updates the track? Most navies have some kind of national equipment on board from their own national industries. We just have to deal with that. So instead of using common equipment, we need interoperability, processes and standards. The NATO STANAGs (standard agreements) have evolved over time. So, a 5-year-old ship may comply with one standard, but it’s not necessarily the same version as what you might find a 10-year-old ship comply with. Not that they change that much, but small changes can be critical in this very time-sensitive environment.
So, you have to choose who we cooperate with.
That’s the strategic choice. You can see from our recent deployments that we cooperate a lot with the U.S. But we cooperate with our other NATO partners, too. For example, this ship, the frigate HDMS Niels Juel, has deployed with the French Navy as part of the Charles De Gaulle Carrier Strike Group. And we’re planning on deploying with the Royal Navy’s carrier within a few years. We’re a NATO member, and we are a member of the MTMD Forum, and we have chosen to cooperate very closely with those member countries, which includes the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, and Australia to mention some of the countries
Your frigates have the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile for self-defense, but they were designed to be able to have an even greater capability.
Both of our flexible support ships and frigates have the MK 56 launcher and the ESSM missile, and we are part of the NATO SeaSparrow consortium developing the ESSM Block II missile. Going back to the effector and the sensor part of IAMD, when we built these frigates, we chose the LM Mark 41 launcher, and in so doing we basically chose the Standard missile family. That means we need the sensors and combat management systems that can support using those missiles. And that’s the direction we are aiming at.
With the Mark 41 launcher, we built in future potential for our frigates. And today, we have 50 SM-2 missiles on order, which was part of our 2018 Defense Agreement. This will give us an area-defense capability. But we are also looking forward, and we have begun a study about the requirements to implement the SM-6 missile in the architecture onboard our frigates. That will give us a much longer effector range, and the ability to engage targets such as the Russian Iskandar missile that Russia has deployed to Kaliningrad.
The study is part of the Defense Agreement that also includes a study about a possible future strike capability. The SM-2 acquisition and building up an area air defense capability, as well as an anti-submarine warfare capability with our SeaHawk helicopters and also towed-array sonars for some of our surface combatants is already funded
Your surface combatants—the frigates and flexible support ships—are designed with modularity.
Both ship classes are using the weapon modules going back to the principles of the STANDARD FLEX. Further, the flexible support ships can carry a variety of cargo such as vehicles or containers for example for staff, SOF, medical on the internal flex-deck. The frigates also have a small cargo-hold back aft in the fantail for twenty-foot ISO containers.
We are also exploring procuring towed-array sonars. The decision hasn’t been made yet, but we plan on installing them on the Absalon-class flexible support ships. This will provide those ships with a very good ASW capability, while the frigates will be optimized for IAMD.
Your frigates and flexible support ships have significant range, so you can operate far from home, such as participating in coalition operations in the Arabian Gulf, as well as on extended patrols in the Arctic.
As part of our Arctic strategy we have had a frigate in the Arctic this summer. The Iver Huitfeldt class frigate Peter Willemoes went up into the Denmark Straits and to Nuuk and up to Disko Bay on the western part of Greenland.
That’s where you operate now with the Knud Rasmussen-class AOPVs and the Thetis class patrol frigates.
The AOPVs are built specifically for operating in that area. They are ice-classed ships with limited icebreaking capabilities. A frigate like Peter Willemoes doesn’t have that capability, but it was operating during the summer season in ice-free waters. That’s not part of the IAMD mission, but it shows the flexibility of these ships. We are also exploring procuring towed-array sonars. The decision hasn’t been made yet, but we plan on installing them on the Absalon-class flexible support ships. This will provide those ships with a very good ASW capability, while the frigates will be optimized for IAMD.
It’s challenging for a crew to be expert in both air and undersea warfare. ASW is a specialist warfare. They need to train a lot. There is limited time for actually training with the submarines, so we will focus a lot on the simulation.
Getting back to IAMD. The strategic choices of cooperation are very important.
One way would be to just buy all American equipment—the AEGIS combat management System and SPY-1 or SPY-6 sensor suite, because then you’re basically good to go. But we need to find a way where we can cooperate, of course, with the U.S. as our main partner, but also to keep Danish industry in. Terma is our supplier for the combat management systems (CMS) on our ships. We have the Terma C-Flex CMS on both the flexible support ships and frigates, as well as our patrol frigates and Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels. And we also need to be able to cooperate with our European partners, as well. So that’s our main focus. We’re taking incremental steps. We are implementing the SM-2 missile area air defense capability, using our current Terma C-Flex combat management system and sensor suite, the Thales APAR and Smart-L radars.
Your Navy is known for reusing its systems and weapons.
If you look at this ship, you will find some of the equipment actually comes from a former class of ships, for example the containerized Mark 56 launchers for ESSM. We use them both on the frigates and the Absalon class. The guns are also containerized. It provides a logistical flexibility when you need to exchange a piece of equipment quickly for instance in case of a system failure, upgrade or maintenance. Further, because the lifetimes are not the same between the hulls, weapons, sensor suite and CMS, we don’t make big steps with a whole new class of ship with all new equipment, but rather incremental steps aligning the systems so we don’t go down a dead end with systems that are in use on multiple platforms. For example, we are taking our Absalon-class and Iver Huitfeldt class ships and upgrading them from ESSM to ESSM Block II. We will be using these missiles for many, many years, so we need to be sure that we can use them for our different classes of ship. The same goes for the sensor suite. When we buy missiles, they of course need to be compatible the current sensors, but they will also define some of the requirements for the next sensors. We currently use the APAR radar for ESSM, along with the Dutch and the German navies. As part of the SM-6 study we will evaluate our options because we need to find out what will be the best sensor suite for supporting a missile system like that.
With SM-6, the shooter doesn’t have to be the sensor.
ABut the shooter has to be in the network. And that goes back to the point I started out with – being in the network is key. One ship – one system is relatively easy. But to be part of a task group means being in the link, updating tracks, having the right protocols in your CMS system, and having the tracks aligned is very, very important. Going back to the Maritime Theater Missile Defense (MTMD) Forum, we participate in the forum and its various working groups. We came into the forum a couple of years ago. It’s been helpful for us. The at-sea demonstration is the testing forum of the MTMD. The next one, at-sea demo, 21, is aligned with the Formidable Shield ’21. We’re able to test our different objectives along the way, as we get more and more mature. That’s the Danish way of doing it because we tend to have our platforms for a very long time with incremental updates along the way.
Would you have to replace your CMS to be able to participate in IAMD?
The CMS we use, the Terma C-Flex system, is an open architecture system. It’s our standard CMS for the different classes of ships in the Danish Navy. As part of the above mentioned study we will look at the requirements for the CMS. There are different options that other countries have used, for example, adding an AEGIS International capability – similar to what Spain and Canada have – as an application to put on top of our existing CMS.
Would that allow you to employ SM-2 and SM-6, if you chose to add that missile?
That will be a part of it. It would reduce complexity a lot and make the system integration easier.
What’s involved with adding that capability?
Each time we do an upgrade, we try to align that with the ship’s maintenance schedule, and they will then need to be certified, which is a significant process. We’re doing the SM-2 integration now, and we will then have the certification.
When do you expect to have the missiles to be delivered?
We plan to get the SM-2s in 2023. Then there’s the ESSM Block IIs.
From a navy perspective, and a defense perspective, of course, we need surveillance to be able to know what’s actually going on. A new ship will need to be able to operate in the extreme latitudes, solve all the classic coast guard tasks, but also conduct warfare—in the air, on the surface or subsurface.
That’s two new missiles at about the same time.
That’s the effector part. And then there are the studies about the SM-6, the strike capability and the requirements for the sensor suite and the combat management system.
You have three AOPVs of the Knud Rasmussen-class, which have been very successful operating in the very challenging Arctic environment.
Yes, and they have the same C-Flex CMS, and the gun came from one of our now-decommissioned patrol boats. It has the same Terma Scanter radar that we have on our other warships, which are very good for helicopter control and navigation, and tracking small targets in clutter.
I’ve seen the YouTube video of the Lynx helicopter coming in to land on the AOPV in horrible weather.
That’s the PRISM company’s testing of their Ship Helicopter Operation Limits (SHOL) in heavy seas. It is quite impressive.
You have three of the AOPVs, and four of the larger Thetis-class patrol frigates, which you also use in the Arctic. Do you plan to replace the Thetis class?
They are getting old. They were built around the 1990s and are nearing the end of their lifetime. We are starting to look into a new class of ship for Arctic operations.
There has been a lot of focus on the Arctic lately.
There is also an increased awareness on the political side of Denmark, which has been growing over the last five or ten years. From a navy perspective, and a defense perspective, of course, we need surveillance to be able to know what’s actually going on. A new ship will need to be able to operate in the extreme latitudes, solve all the classic coast guard tasks, but also conduct warfare—in the air, on the surface or subsurface. The ASW capability for the GIUK gap is important. The Thetis class just had a sensor upgrade. And it has been modified to accommodation of the Sea Hawk helicopter, which is heavier than the old Lynx helicopter, to include a reinforcement of the deck and a new hangar. So now they’re good to go for the next 10 years or so.
I was on one of those ships a few years ago when it had containerized MCM Denmark system on board.
Thetis is actually the flagship of NATO MCM Group 1 for the year 2019.
One of the MCM Denmark containers, the command module, carries the command and control system, and another container is the dive locker. And there are remotely or optionally manned ships.
Yes. The Holm-class, which we use for identification and destruction using the underwater robot (ROV) and our remotely operated drone mine hunting vessels. The concept is working. We’re investing in new side-scan sonars for the drones and a new MCM-system including the link for handling real time sonar data analysis in the command module. MCM is important in a strategic environment no too different from the Cold War, where we focused on closing the straits. Today our goal is keeping the straits open allowing allied access to the Baltic, and I think MCM is a very, very important capability in that aspect. After the side scan sonars, we’ll look at AUVs – Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. We have started out testing some small systems at the moment. Technology is evolving quite rapidly in that area at the moment and I think the technology needs to mature a little bit more before we go into that. But we do have a lot of exciting things happening in our navy!