Many European guided-missile frigates have been adapted to undertake the crucial role of "air defense", offering floating, mobile airspace denial capabilities to the main fleet or protecting vital waterways and even near-shore positions when called to operate in a more independent manner. For the modern Royal Danish Navy, this is accomplished through the three-strong Iver Huitfeldt-class of fighting frigates of which HDMS Miels Juel (F363) counts herself as part of their number. The warships began construction in 2008 and all three have since entered commissioned service from 2012 onward - adding a potent ocean-going capability to the relatively modest Royal Danish Navy fleet.
HDMS Niels Juel saw her keel laid down during December 2009 and she was formally launched for trials a year later. She was officially commissioned for service into the Royal Danish Navy in November of 2011 and maintains an active service status in the fleet as of this writing (2019).
Dimensions include a running length of 455 feet, a beam measuring 64.8 feet, and a draught down to 17 feet. Her profile follows established lines of the Iver Huitfeldt-class air defense frigates, utilizing stealth features such as a well-countered hull line (blended into the hull superstructure), a restriction on external protrusions present, and enclosed, low-profile smoke funnels. The forecastle is relatively featureless save for a single turreted main gun. The forward and rear hull superstructure sections are conjoined by a center section containing additional armament, the aft-mast and the twin smoke funnels. The main mast sits at the forward superstructure section with the bridge and is of an enclosed design to minimize the warship's signature. Over the aft-end of the ship is the combination helipad-hangar offering support facilities for up to two medium-lift navy helicopters. Typically, a single Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk type is carried and this helicopter can be equipped for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role or aid in scouting and Search-and-Rescue (SAR) actions. Aboard is a crew of about 117 personnel.
The ship is equipped with the Thales Nederland SMART-L long-ranged air/surface-search radar system, the Thales Nederland APAR air/surface-search radar, and the 1 Terma SCANTER 6000 surveillance / helicopter guidance unit. In the hull is mounted the Atlas ASO 94 series sonar unit. 2 x Saab CEROS 200 systems aid in fire control direction. The ES-3701 suite covers the ship for Electronic Support Measures (ESMs) while the Mark 36 "Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Countermeasures" ("SRBOC") mortar system is charged with launching chaff/InfraRed (IR) decoys against inbound anti-ship missiles.
The warship is driven by 4 x MTU 8000 20V M70 series marine diesels arranged in a COmbined Diesel-And-Diesel (CODAD) configuration driving power to 2 x Shafts under stern. In ideal conditions, this gives the vessel a top ocean-going speed of up to 30 knots with a range out to 10,700 miles - offering the Niels Juel excellent fuel-efficient pacing qualities as well as operational capability.
Armament is led by a 76mm OTO-Melara turreted deck gun over the forecastle but the bread-and-butter of this design are the 4 x Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLSs) housing up to 32 x SM-2 IIIA Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) and the 2 x Mk 56 VLSs fitting up to 24 x RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow medium-ranged SAMs. Beyond this there are 4 x Quadruple missile launchers (two per hull side) housing 16 x Harpoon anti-ship missiles,2 x MU90 Impact twin-tubed torpedo launchers, and 1 x 35mm Oerlikon Millennium Close-in Weapon System (CIWS). All told, the vessel is well-equipped for airspace denial and can counter the presence of most at-sea threat.
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