With Russia making a huge push in the area of smaller surface combatants that pack an out-sized punch, there is an open question about what this means for NATO. However, in the Arctic, a ship to counter Russia’s combatants has been in service for over a dozen years.
The Royal Norwegian Navy had been looking to replace the Cold War-era Oslo-class frigates. These were built in the 1960s, and despite an upgrade in the 1970s, they were becoming less effective. The lead ship, HNoMS Oslo (F300), was lost after running aground in 1994. According to the 1995 edition of Combat Fleets of the World, after modernization, the Oslo-class ships had two three-inch guns, a Mk 29 NATO Sea Sparrow launcher, four Penguin anti-ship missiles, and 324mm torpedo tubes.
To replace the aging ships, Norway turned to a scaled-down version of the Spanish F100 frigate design that became the Alvaro de Bazan class. Naval-Technology.com reports that the Fridjof Nansen-class frigates (named for famous Norwegian explorers) addressed many of the shortcomings of the preceding frigates, including cramped living quarters.
But the biggest change is that the Norwegian Navy went from having one of the weakest frigates in the NATO arsenal to one of the best. The Nansen-class ships have a single 76mm gun of a more modern design than the one used on the Oslos, an eight-cell Mk 41 vertical-launch system carrying 32 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles directed by the Aegis combat system, two quad Naval Strike Missile launchers, as well as the ability to operate a NH90 helicopter.
But that is not all the frigate can carry. MilitaryFactory.com reports that this ship could add a second 76mm gun, or swap out is current 76mm gun for a five-inch gun. A close-in weapon system and an additional eight vertical-launch cells could also be added. In short, Russia’s ships could face a difficult fight in the Arctic.