The Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS TE KAHA frigate is equipped with an ultra-modern defense and attack system with torpedoes and air defense missiles.
HMNZS Te Kaha F77 is one of ten Anzac-Class frigates, and one of two serving in the Royal New Zealand Navy. This is a purpose-built warship constructed to the German MEKO 200 design. Her primary mission is to ensure the security and prosperity of New Zealand by undertaking maritime security patrols and surveillance operations to protect their sea lines of communication or trade routes.
During the mid-1980s, the Royal New Zealand Navy began considering sought new surface combatants to the replacement of the Leander-class frigate. Around the same time, a deterioration in New Zealand-United States relations forced the New Zealand government to improve ties with local nations. Australia was going through a similar process and the two nations decided to collaborate on the acquisition in early 1987. In 1989, it was announced that Melbourne base AMECON would build the modified MEKO 200 design frigate. The Anzacs were modified to meet Australian and New Zealand specifications and maximise the use of locally built equipment.
Te Kaha was delivered to the Ministry of Defence and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy on 22 July 1997. Te Kaha is the first ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy. The name TE KAHA is meaning “fighting prowess” or “strength” and the Ship’s Motto is “He Ponanga Kaha” or “Service with strength”, this embodies the strength of the Ship and the Royal New Zealand Navy. HMNZS Te Kaha along with HMNZS Te Mana became the two main fighting ships of the Navy and play a vital role in protecting New Zealand, its exports, maritime resources and those of their allies.
Te Kaha was laid down at Williamstown, Victoria on September 19, 1994. The ship was assembled from six hull modules and six superstructure modules. When completed, the frigate has a 3,600 tonne full load displacement. The overall length of the hull is 118m, with a beam of 14.8m and a full load draught of 4.35m.
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The ship is fitted with a Combined Diesel or Gas propulsion machinery layout, consisting of two controllable-pitch propellers driven by a single General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbine and two MTU diesel engines: initially the TB83 model, but these were replaced in 2009 with more powerful TB93. Maximum speed is 27 knots, and maximum range is over 6,000 nautical miles at 18 knots, about 50% greater than other MEKO 200 designs. The standard crew of the ship consists of 22 officers and 141 sailors.
As designed, the main armament for the frigate is a 127mm Mark 45 gun, supplemented by an eight-cell Mark 41 vertical launch system for RIM-7 Sea Sparrow surface to air missiles, two 12.7mm machine guns, and two Mark 32 triple torpedo tube sets firing Mark 46 torpedoes.
They were also designed for but not with a close-in weapons system. As soon as the New Zealand frigate entered service, a Phalanx CIWS weapons system, recycled from decommissioning various Leander frigates, was fitted to the new frigate.
In the stern area is a helipad and a fully serviced hangar for a ship-based helicopter. The Te Kaha initially operated with a Westland Wasp helicopter, which were later replaced by Kaman SH-2 Seasprites, then Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters. This helicopter can be equipped with AGM-119 Mk 2 Mod 7 Penguin Missile.
The frigate is fitted with an advanced package of air surveillance radars, omni-directional hull mounted sonar and electronic support systems which interface with a state-of-the-art combat data system. Air search is by Raytheon SPS-49 ANZ radar, Surface search radar is CelsiusTech 9LV 453 TIR and the I-band navigation radar is the Atlas Electronik 9600 ARPA. Electronic warfare & decoding included Thales Centaur ESM, Telefunken PST-1720 Telegon 10, G&D Aircraft SRBOC Mk 36 Mod 1 decoy launchers for SRBOC.
Since being put into operation, Te Kaha has been actively involved in maritime security and rescue operations. In June 2017, the ship’s deployment in the western Pacific was extended to provide support to the US 7th Fleet after USS Fitzgerald collided with the container ship ACX Crystal, killing seven sailors and causing extensive damage to the destroyer. The US Navy awarded Te Kaha the Meritorious Unit Commendation for this action.
HMNZS Te Kaha is undergoing a series of upgrades were approved under the ANZAC Frigate Systems Upgrade programme. The warship will have upgrades undertaken by Lockheed Martin Canada to its surveillance, self-defence, and combat capabilities, including a new combat management system, radars, above water sensors, and hull-mounted sonar upgrade.
And its RIM7P Seasparrow missile will be replaced with MBDA’s British-designed Sea Ceptor vertical launched Common Anti-air Modular Missile system. The new missile can reach speeds three times the speed of sound and can attack multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of around 1300 square kilometres over land or sea.
In the near future Te Kaha will continue to be part of New Zealand’s national security system, and works with other agencies to protect and advance New Zealand’s national security interests.