Thailand has successfully fired the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) from a Naresuan-class frigate for the first time (photos : US Navy, Thaidefense-News)
HTMS Naresuan (421) conducted the test firing on 30 August in the Gulf of Thailand as part of the annual 'Co-operation Afloat Readiness and Training' ('CARAT') exercise between the USN, the US Marine Corps, and the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
"CARAT this year marks a significant milestone for bilateral co-operation and interoperability between our navies with the Royal Thai Navy firing the ESSM for the first time," said Lieutenant Arlo Abrahamson, a USN public affairs officer with the navy's Task Force 73.
"The ESSM fired from HTMS Naresuan achieved a direct hit on a BQM-74E drone missile launched from the USN amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown [LSD 42]," he told IHS Jane's .
Alongside the first launch, the live firing also marked the successful proving out of the ship's modernised combat system. Undertaken by Saab, upgrade work underpinning the use of the ESSM system introduced the company's 9LV Mk 4 combat management system, two Ceros 200 CWI fire-control systems, the Sea Giraffe AMB G-band air/surface surveillance radar, and new tactical datalinks.
The RTN's two Naresuan-class frigates, Naresuan and HTMS Taksin (422), were built by China State Shipbuilding Corporation at Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai and commissioned in December 1994 and September 1995 respectively, according to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships . The ships are armed with a 127 mm main gun and eight (two quad) launchers for the McDonnell Douglas Harpoon surface-to-surface missile. The vessels are also equipped with six (two triple) 324 mm Mk 32 Mod 5 torpedo launchers for submarine prosecution.
The United States and Thailand announced in July 2013 that BAE Systems had been awarded a contract to provide the Mk 25 Mod 0 Quad Pack canisters used to launch ESSM as part of a combat systems upgrade on the Naresuan class. The contract announcement followed a notification by the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency in August 2012 that outlined a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Thailand of nine ESSM all-up rounds and associated equipment.
'CARAT' is a series of bilateral military exercises involving the United States and the armed forces of nine partner countries in South and Southeast Asia. The Thailand phase of 'CARAT' 2015 ran for eight days up to 2 September.
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