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Thales opens system test center for German F126 project

The project partners can now test prototypes for the German F126 frigates in a new “system test centre” of the Thales armaments group.

On 23 April, an important milestone was reached for the F126 project in Hengelo, the Netherlands. The German Navy, BAAINBw, Thales and other F126 project partners, such as Damen Naval, the prime contractor for the F126 project, inaugurated the “Extended Thales Test Centre”, a facility for system testing and integration specifically dedicated to the project. This will serve as a hub for the three parties and other project partners to collaborate on the construction of the F126 frigates for the German Navy. [ds_preview]

“The facility will enable prototyping, system validation, integration and testing prior to shipment to Germany, where the frigates will be built,” it says. The opening of the Extended Thales Testing Centre is an important milestone on the way to the delivery of the first ship, which is planned for 2028. Last year, Thales had already doubled its local production capacity in the Netherlands by expanding its own testing and integration facilities.

“Physical environment for collaboration” on F126

The Extended Thales Testing Center will provide project partners with a physical environment for collaboration, innovation and joint development of solutions. System testing and integration will also take place in this facility. The building is equipped with several test stations for the ships’ sensors and other hardware. The integration of the mission system into the TACTICOS combat management system will also be validated here.

Construction of the F126 frigates (MKS 180) began at the Peene shipyard in Wolgast in early December 2023. These are the largest and most expensive ships for the German Navy to date. According to the Bundeswehr, the ship class is designed as an all-purpose weapon. The ships should be able to remain in service anywhere in the world and for a long time. The Dutch shipyard group Damen Shipyards, which won the tender, is in charge of the multi-billion euro project. The four 166 m long frigates will cost around €6bn. According to Damen, the first ship is due to be delivered in 2028. Numerous partners and suppliers from Germany are involved in the construction, including the Lürssen Group. The Peene shipyard is building the sterns. Blohm + Voss and Thales Netherlands are also involved.

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