MTA2020 and its Swedish connection – Pt 2. Finland

The following is part two of three, discussing the possibilities of Finnish-Swedish cooperation in the field of new support ships. Part one (published yesterday) dealt mainly with the Swedish plans, with this part focusing on the Finnish MTA2020, and in part three (published tomorrow) I will try to wrap it up. As mentioned, I have no inside information on the MTA2020 or L10, but everything is based on open sources.

Finland – MTA2020

The MTA2020 is very vaguely described in the article. As opposed to the Hämenmaa-class, which currently can operate in the Mediterranean but not further afield, the MTA2020 is supposed to be able to operate in the Indian Ocean on international duties, as well as to perform its wartime missions in the Finnish archipelagoes and home waters.

The MTA2020 will most probably be a large ship by Finnish standards. Also, seeing the emphasize placed by the Finnish navy on mines in naval warfare (e.g. the mine rails were kept on the refurbished Hämeenmaa ships, as opposed to the Swedish solution for HMS Carlskrona), the MTA2020 might well feature a combined Ro/Ro and mine deck. For prolonged operations abroad, full flight facilities including a hangar might be wished for, but it is unclear which helicopter would be used, as the Finnish Navy currently does not operate any helicopters of their own.

If the ship would indeed receive full flight facilities, my personal belief is that the use of NH-90, even in its NFH-version, is unlikely, as it is a rather heavy helicopter. An order for a limited number of light marine helicopters, e.g. the AW159 Wildcat or AS565 Panther, would seem logical, and would dramatically boost both the ASW and ASuW capabilities of the navy, by providing stand-off ASW capability and over-the-horizon targeting capability for ship based AShM. However, the cost of such a procurement might well prove to be prohibitive.

Exactly in which way the MTA2020 is supposed to replace the Rauma-class is more uncertain, as weapons will probably be limited to a self-defence SAM-system, one medium caliber dual-purpose gun similar in performance to the Bofors 57 mm currently fitted to the Hämeenmaa, and some kind of anti-submarine weapons (might we see torpedoes aboard a Finnish ship for the first time since WWII?).

The role it could take over from the Rauma is escorting merchant shipping, where it could tackle air and potentially sub-surface threats. Operating a MTO2020 in this way together with a Hamina-class PGG or two might prove a winning combo, being able to take on air, surface and sub-surface threats, with the MTO2020 replenishing the Haminas at sea to provide longer endurance.

However, having heavier equipment on support ships are not unheard of. The Rhein-class depot ships of the Bundesmarine were fitted with two 100 mm DP guns in single turrets, a number of 40 mm AA guns, and up to 70 mines, meaning they could fulfill wartime roles as a mineship or light frigate (this was before guided missiles became the weapons of choice for almost every mission). The heavy armament also meant that they could serve as training ships, benefitting from a larger complement, meaning that more people could be trained per cruise compared to a “real” frigate or missile/torpedo craft.

This later might be an idea that would interest the Finnish navy. Mounting a four-cell AShM launcher on the MTA2020 would provide the navy with a more or less ideal training vessel, having the same(?) weapons and sensors as the Hamina-class (or, whatever the Hamina-class will receive when the time comes for their MLU), as well as mine rails, almost every position on most warships of the navy could be taught onboard the MTA2020.

While the Finnish navy is no stranger to this kind of arrangement, having operated the Bay-class frigate HMS Porlock Bay (‘K650’/’F650’) for over ten years in the training role as Matti Kurki before scrapping her in 1975, as stated above, I find it unlikely that the MTA2020 will get its own AShM-launcher.

6 thoughts on “MTA2020 and its Swedish connection – Pt 2. Finland

  1. Pingback: Muumilaakson puolustaminen, osa 3. | Random thoughts

    1. OPV might very well be the cheapest solution. Especially in the case of the MTA 2020, I have my doubts whether it is possible to fit all those roles allocated into a single hull in a cost efficient way. Splitting it up on a number of smaller vessels might, especially if we would be able to pool the “international tour of duty”-vessel with allied countries (e.g. sharing a single OPV with Sweden).

      Swedish links are fine (and btw, you have a very interesting blog) 🙂

      //Corporal Frisk

  2. Why would Sweden or Finland buy a Damen ship instead of buying a Norwegian design?

    Norwegian companies have built countless successful and operationally proven OPVs for the Coast Guard, including the standard Harstad/UT512 class and Barentshav-class, and the icebreaker Svalbard. Supporting a neighboring country and getting the valuable experience transfer would not be a bad idea.

    Then again, I suppose it’s for the exact same reason the Norwegian government bought frigates from Spain and a new research ship from Italy. (ie they are idiots)

    1. Obviously, e.g. the Ulstein SX123 would be a worthy contender to Damen’s designs. However, in all honesty, Damen is on roll right now, with several military and para-military (coast guard) orders, and from a Finnish viewpoint (at least from Helsinki) The Netherlands is not that much farther away than Norway, and the former is a EU member.

      I’m not saying that buying from Norway would be a bad idea, on the contrary, but as you noted, the decision makers currently seems keen on supporting foreign yards (our new mine hunters came all the way from Italy…).

      //Corporal Frisk

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