Hengelo radar systems withstand Russian attack

July 02, 2021

Radar systems from Thales in Hengelo played a prominent role in the high-profile intimidating fake attack that the Russian air force carried out on a Dutch frigate. The Russians tried to disrupt the advanced radars, but they stood their ground flawlessly.

Defence Minister Bijleveld, from Goor, was unusually fierce in her words about the incident, which came to light earlier this week: "Intimidation practices, aggressive behaviour, unsafe and irresponsible."

International exercise

Fighting aircraft of the Russian air force appear to have carried out feint attacks on the Zr. Ms. Evertsen, an air defence and command frigate of the Royal Netherlands Navy, for hours last week.

The Evertsen was sailing in the Black Sea, where the Seabreeze exercise is currently being held. Over thirty warships from thirty countries, five thousand soldiers and forty combat aircraft are taking part. The exercise is an act of solidarity with the Ukraine, which earlier had to stand idly by while the Russian Federation annexed the Crimean peninsula.

Russia is very irritated about this exercise and especially the reason behind it. At the same time, Moscow apparently thinks that this part of the Black Sea belongs to Russian territory, while officially it is international waters.

By the way, according to a Defence spokesperson, the Evertsen is not participating in the exercise.

Mock attacks for hours

After a British destroyer had been under fire the day before, the next day Sr. Russian fighter jets carried out feint attacks for five hours. They skimmed close over the Dutch frigate.

The Russian air force is often guilty of relatively innocent harassment, but in this case, the planes were armed and came exceptionally close.

The action went far beyond the usual bullying, according to Commander of the Armed Forces Onno Eichelsheim in front of the microphone of Radio 1.

"These aircraft were armed and came so close that it also became unsafe," says Eichelsheim. "The way it happened now - with armament, large scale and continuous mock attacks - is an exception. The way it happened here is a rarity we have not seen before."

Showpieces Thales

The Evertsen is equipped with the Smart-L, one of the showpieces from the stable of Thales in Hengelo, with a range of four hundred kilometres. The frigate is also equipped with the APAR, the Active Phased Array Radar, which can track up to two hundred airborne targets up to 150 kilometres.

The Thales radar systems then turned out to have played an important role in the feint attacks. The Russians tried to jam the radar systems from the Crimea. The Thales systems, however, remained in place flawlessly. This enabled the commander to keep a constant eye on the situation.

"The crew never felt threatened. Although it is intimidating, of course", says Eichelsheim. He has since spoken to the commander of the Evertsen and it has become clear that he never considered taking action. Thanks to the Thales radars, which enabled the commander to assess whether there was a real danger.

Official protest

The last word on the sham attacks by the Russians has not yet been spoken. Apart from the fierce criticism from Defence Minister Bijleveld earlier this week, the minister will make an official protest to Moscow one of these days.

This article is written by RTV Oost; read the original Dutch version here.