The Belgian M-frigate Leopold I is being prepared for upkeep and modernization. This month, work to dismount all installations on the external decks, including the mast and cables, is scheduled to be completed. The command center will be replaced with a new combat management system. In mid-February, the frigate will be placed in dry dock in Den Helder to begin work installing a new mast and adapting all the weapon systems.
Belgian Defense photo
The aim is to enable the frigate to counter new threats like pirates using fast boats, which are hard to detect. Detection capabilities will be improved by integrating new systems like Thales Nederland's Gatekeeper and Seastar. The two sensors provide the capability to detect small targets and to counter frontier-running, pollution, drug trafficking and piracy.
Seastar is a non-rotating active phased array radar for naval surface surveillance which automatically detects and tracks asymmetric threats and very small objects such as swimmers and periscopes in all weather conditions. The system can also be used to guide helicopters.
Gatekeeper is a 360° panoramic electro-optical surveillance and alerter system based on infrared/TV technology designed to counter emerging asymmetric threats down to small boats and swimmers. The system increases short-range situational awareness in littoral environments, according to Thales Nederland.
The two new sensors will be matched with the SMART-S surveillance radar and the STIR weapon control radar on board the Leopold I.