Let’s get to picking our own Navy. Like Luchtburg, we’d like a nice, middleweight ship to handle a wide variety of tasks. There are lots of such frigates available, with a bunch of different price points and mission optimizations. Our pick is the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class, also known as the F100 class. For us, it represents the best set of compromises.
The F100s have the most powerful air defense missile suite for any frigate in the world, with a whopping forty eight1 Mk. 41 VLS tubes. 48! This is awesome. You’d no doubt expect them to be loaded with ESSMs and the latest SM-2 variant, and you’d be correct. The standard Spanish Navy loadout is 32 SM-2 Block IIIA SAMs and 64 RIM-162 ESSMs. That’s awesome. These missiles are backed up by a smaller version of the American Aegis combat system, and compact versions of the SPY-1 radar system. Very cool.
Having Aegis and the American SM-2/ESSM SAMs is really good from a commonality perspective. There’s no good reason for our Destroyer to be anything but an Arleigh Burke-class derivative (more on that to follow), and it’s really nice to have common radar systems and missiles with the Burkes. I’m a big fan of logistical optimizations where possible, and fewer distinct kinds of spares is always a win. Plus, since the US Navy also uses these missiles, they’ll probably be paying for upgrades, so we don’t have to.
The rest of the F100s loadout is pretty conventional. There are eight Harpoon missile tubes, six 324 mm torpedo tubes, and a 5″/54 gun. The F100 also has the usual bow sonar and a towed sonar array, though the towed array isn’t a very advanced model. It has a Spanish-built twelve-barreled 20 mm cannon CIWS system. This is one of the few things I’m unhappy with, but it’s also one of the simplest to remedy.
The F100s are driven by a CODOG2 powerplant, and have a crew of 250. Lots of navies are going with lower crews on their frigates, but I prefer a bigger crew. More men is better for doing manpower-intensive tasks like damage control. I’m very happy with this compliment.
Maximum speed is 28.5 knots, and the range is 4,500 nautical miles at 18 knots. Pretty typical Frigate stuff here. No reason to complain or specify changes.
As for changes, a few minor things when placing our order. We’d like to upgrade the CIWS to a rolling airframe missile based system, which should be pretty easy. We’d also like a more advanced towed array. Again, nothing hard there. Pretty simple changes. The F100s, like most Western combatants, use Harpoon antiship missiles. I’m not the biggest fan of those, but we’d have to be sure to do the conversion on both these and our DDGs. Not a huge deal, but something to watch out for. Verify compatibility with both before changing things. Or see if Harpoon is getting more upgrades. Presuming it isn’t, the NSM is an excellent alternative.
The only really notable shortcoming is the helicopter capacity. The F100 has a flight deck and hangar for one midsize helicopter like an SH-60. This is decent, but two would be better. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can easily change. Still, the F100s provide excellent capabilities at a reasonable price. At least if you don’t stop and restart production lines and do a bunch of add-ons to the command and control facilities.
1.) Hilariously, this is the same number of VLS tubes as the Daring-class desroyers, even though those are almost half again the tonnage of the F100s. And called ‘destroyers’, even though they displace as much as a World War 2-era heavy cruiser.
2.) Combined Diesel Or Gas (turbine). So you can drive the screws with the fuel efficient diesel engines or the gas turbines for high speed but not both.