Defense News reports, one of our primary partners in drug interdiction efforts is expected to significantly upgrade their naval capabilities.
Colombia is launching a $2 billion shipbuilding program that would see its Navy acquire five frigates.
The announcement, made last week, was followed by the signing on Tuesday of an initial contract between local shipbuilder Cotecmar and Dutch company Damen to adapt the latter’s Sigma 10514 design to meet the Colombian Navy’s requirements.
This is a significant step toward self sufficiency in naval construction. It is a step up after Cotemar built three Fassmer 80 meter Offshore Patrol Vessels.
The new ships will replace four smaller 95 meter, 1850 ton full load, German built light frigate/corvettes that were commissioned in 1983/84.
If these new ships are in fact 120 meters in length and at least 2800 tons full load, they will be the largest ships of the SIGMA series. (At one time I expected a SIGMA series ship would have been a contender in the Offshore Patrol Cutter program.)
Apparently they have not made a final choice of weapons and sensors. I would not be surprised if they were equipped much like the Mexican SIGMA frigate, which is armed with weapons sourced from the US, including RGM-84L Harpoon Block II, eight Mk56 VLS for ESSM, MK 54 Mod 0 lightweight torpedoes with two MK 32 Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes (SVTT) triple tube launchers, Block II Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) missiles and Bofors 57 mm gun.
It seems likely the additional length compared to the Mexican ship will be to improve some capability, I would guess ASW. Mk41 VLS would allow greater flexibility including launch of ASROC and potentially land attack missiles.
It is widely known Colombia and Venezuela have not been getting along well. Colombia probably considers Venezuela their pacing threat. If that is the case, most, if not all five of the new ships will likely be based on the Caribbean side. These ships should provide an advantage vs the Venezuelan Navy.
Below, video of the latest SIGMA series ship, Mexican frigate ARM Benito Juárez (F 101), as it arrives for participation in RIMPAC 2022: