The all-modern Sachsen-class of guided missile frigates of the German Navy was selected to succeed the aging line of Lutjens-class destroyers. The latter group, numbering three total vessels, operated during the Cold War period (1947-1991) until the late-1990s and early-2000s. By this time, the line was done in by emerging threats and advanced technologies so the Sachsen-class was selected to fulfill the now-vacant positions. The new class of warships, numbering three, has replaced the outgoing vessels on a "one-for-one" basis and the group is led by FGS Sachsen (F219) and includes sisters FGS Hamburg (F220) and FGS Hessen (F221).
The Sachsen-class is also known by the designation "F124". An option for a forth ship - FGS Thuringen (F222) - was not taken up by the German Navy. All three of the aforementioned warships maintain active statuses within the German Navy inventory.
As completed, FGS Sachsen displaces 6,400 tons under load and holds an overall length of 469 feet, a beam of 57.2 feet and a draught of 20 feet. Power is from a CODAG (COmbined Diesel And Gas) arrangement in which either (or both) engine set can be called upon to accomplish various actions such as cruising and sprinting. The arrangement is comprised of 2 x MTU V20 diesel engines with 1 x General Electric LM2500 gas turbine driving power to 2 x shafts under stern. Speeds reach in excess of 29 knots and range is out to 4,000 nautical miles.
The profile of Sachsen relies heavily on proven stealth techniques for warships. There is a concerted effort to reduce protrusions about the ship and decrease the vessel's radar signature. The main mast is integrated into the bridge superstructure and completely enclosed. The smoke funnels, set over midships, are of a low-profile design and conjoined. The aft superstructure fits its own mast and this, too, is of an enclosed design. Over the rear of the warship is the helipad and full-service hangar facilities.
Internally, the warship is crewed by 230 personnel and a further thirteen make up the air arm. Up to 2 x medium-lift helicopters can be carried and maintained thanks to onboard hangar facilities and a helipad set upon the stern section of the vessel. These helicopters provide various services including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Search and Rescue (SAR) and over-the-horizon vision.
Onboard sensors and processing systems are all-modern - a Thales suite heads the collection that includes the SMART-L air/surface-search radar, the APAR air/surface-search radar, the Sirius IRST infrared search-and-tracking system. 2 x STN Atlas 9600-M series multi-function ARPA radars are fitted as is one Atlas MSP 500 electro-optical Fire Control System (FCS). Bow sonar is made up of the Atlas DSQS-24B series sonar unit. Electronic Warfare (EW) is handled through the FL 1800 SII ECM suite. There are also 6 x Sippican Hycor SRBOC launchers for launching decoys.
In terms of armament, FGS Sachsen is outfitted with a mix of conventional projectile and missile-minded weaponry. There is a single 76mm OTO-Melara dual-purpose turreted deck gun over the forecastle and 2 x 27mm Mauser MLG 27 series automatic cannons. 1 x Mk 41 makes up the Vertical Launch System (VLS) which carries a 32-cell bank of surface-to-air missiles in the SM-2 and RIM-162 forms. There are also 2 x Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers with 21 reloads and 2 x Harpoon anti-ship quadruple launchers fitted. Beyond this is the more traditional triple pairing of torpedo launchers supporting the EuroTop MU90 impact torpedo family.
All told, the warship can engage aerial targets (including inbound missiles and drones), surface warships and enemy submarines with its broad array of weaponry - making FGS Sachsen one of the most important warships available to the modern German Navy today.
Her service career began notable deployments in 2004 when, off the American West coast, the warship trialed her missile-and-drone intercepting prowess with success. Later, she participated in joint German-US exercises in Pacific waters and another joint exercise greeted the vessel in 2010 before the warship was relocated to the Mediterranean. During January 2013, FGS Sachsen took part in NATO's "Standing Maritime Force 1" where the German warship served as flagship. In March of 2015, the warship participated in Operation Good Hope alongside elements of the South African Navy.
From 2013 until 2017, Sachsen and her sisters underwent a period of modernization which has sought to keep the warships viable deterrents for the foreseeable future.