Belgium and the Netherlands order four new frigates, at higher cost

The Belgian and Dutch governments have given the green light for the joint order of four new frigates. The total cost of the four vessels, two for each country's navy, is higher than initially estimated and now amounts to over 4 billion euros. According to both governments, however, Belgian industry can count on several hundred million euros in economic returns.

The purchase was approved on Friday by the ministerial councils of both countries. The two frigates will cost Belgium around 2 billion euros - much higher than the original estimate in 2018, the ministry of defence reported on Monday. Part of the extra cost is due to inflation. In addition, defence minister Ludivine Dedonder opted to fully equip the frigates with armaments and sensors.

"For the replacement of our frigates, too little budget was foreseen to equip the ships fully," Dedonder said in a press release. "There is indeed a high additional cost, but I could not, as the minister in charge, allow our navy to have frigates that are not fully equipped."

"I could not, as the minister in charge, allow our navy to have frigates that are not fully equipped"

The Netherlands is having identical frigates built to replace the joint fleet from 2029. The Dutch navy will get its first new frigate by the end of 2029, with the first Belgian one expected in the second half of 2030.

The new vessels will specialise in submarine warfare and are classified as anti-submarine warfare frigates. They will also be capable of countering threats in the air and at sea and will serve for about 40 years.

They replace the current M-class frigates, which were commissioned in the 1990s. Belgium bought two vessels from the Netherlands, the Leopold 1 and the Louise-Marie, for 230 million euros in December 2005.



The Leopold 1, one of Belgium's current frigates © BELGA PHOTO HANDOUT DEFENSIE - DEFENCE TBN JORN URBAIN

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