For the first time in a Belgian newspaper, concerns are expressed about the Dutch-Belgian frigate program. In recent weeks, the ASW frigate has been discussed several times in the Belgian parliament, because the frigates are getting bigger and more expensive. According to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, the new frigates would be 700 million euros more expensive.
Currently, the project for the replacement of the two Belgian and two Dutch M frigates is in a negotiation phase, after the design was modified earlier this year. De Standaard described the problem last week as “a problem with the buoyancy of the ships”, according to Belgian MP Peter Buysrogge (N-VA) the ships in the current design would even sink. The ships must be larger because the reduced version chosen in 2019 was insufficient to accommodate all the requirements and wishes of both navies. Also, there was not enough room for future updates.
It is known that the frigates are becoming more expensive, but the amount is not yet. One source of the Standard has been talking about 700 million extra for the total project. But the Dutch defense materiel organization (DMO) does not confirm that: “we do not recognize it. The Belgians are considering straightening out their budget to get the same weapon system as the Dutch, ” writes a DMO spokesman. “Everything is stated in it correctly.”
For Belgium, any price adjustment is extra difficult because the budget was laid down in a law. Although in the past Dutch navy ships were often cheaper than comparable ships abroad, the difference from the beginning was very large.
In addition to criticism of new construction, according to the Standard, There is also dissatisfaction with the maintenance of the ships in Belgium; the availability of the ships would be feared. It would also be exciting every year, “also for the Dutch”, around maintenance. The article refers to Damen, but both the Dutch and the Belgian frigates are maintained by the Directorate for material conservation (DMI) in Den Helder. DMI has not yet responded to the critical note from Belgium.