German Navy’s frigate Sachsen regains vertical launching system

By Defence Industry Europe

The German Navy's frigate Sachsen has been successfully re-equipped with a vertical launching system (VLS), enabling it to deploy air defence missiles once again. This upgrade was completed recently at the Marinearsenal, despite the complexity of the project and within the scheduled docking period.


This replacement was necessitated by a munitions accident on board the Sachsen nearly five years ago, which irreparably damaged the original VLS, requiring a complete replacement. Typically, VLS installations are integrated during a warship’s initial construction, making the installation of a new launcher on an existing ship a unique and challenging task. However, the Marinearsenal personnel managed to perform a significant portion of the work, substantially saving taxpayer money.



The new VLS system, produced by an American manufacturer Lockheed Martin specifically for this project, is an updated version of the original launcher. The procurement was conducted through the Bundeswehr’s procurement office as a government purchase via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. To avoid additional docking time, it was decided in consultation with the German Navy to equip the frigate with the new air defence system during its current regular maintenance phase.

The physical installation of the last module was completed last week. Final software integration into the frigate’s weapon system is pending, with functionality tests scheduled to take place at the end of the ongoing maintenance period in 2024.



The Sachsen, a class 124 frigate, is designed as a multi-purpose vessel for escort and sea control missions, with a focus on air defence. All onboard sensors and weapons are optimized for this primary task. The VLS Mk41 on the F124 can launch Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). The launcher has 32 cells, each capable of holding four ESSMs or one SM-2, providing a significant boost to the frigate’s defensive capabilities.



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