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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Guaiqueri class offshore patrol boats of the Venezuelan Navy

Written by D-Mitch

PC23 Yekuana, third of the Guaiqueri class patrol vessels.
Photo: ventuari,
The Guaiqueri class of Venezuelan Navy (Bolivarian Armada of Venezuela), is a class of four modern offshore/ocean patrol vessels featuring stealth technology with reduced radar and infrared signatures and special design to minimize the propulsion system's noise emissions and vibrations. The designation is Avante 2200 and sometimes they are reported as POVZEE from the Spanish Patrullero Oceánico de Vigilancia de la Zona Económica Exclusiva. The vessels were built in Navantia shipyard in Cadiz city of Puerto Real, the period 2008-2010. The vessels' mission is monitoring and protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to ensure national sovereignty and territorial integrity, protection of maritime traffic, defense of strategic interests, search and rescue, relief and other humanitarian units, detection of smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal immigration and monitoring and data collection of operational and environmental intelligence

PC23 Yekuana of Guaiqueri class. Photo: Bolivarian Armada of Venezuela
The general characteristics of the class are a displacement of about 2,450 tons, length of 99m and a speed of 24knots while the range is 3,500n.m. with the cruising speed of 18knots. The endurance is 25 days. The crew is 60 people while it can accommodate 32 people more. The ships carry two RHIBs and they are equipped with a helideck and a hangar to accommodate a medium size (10tons) helicopter such as AB212 or Bell 412EP in the Venezuelan inventory armed with heavy machine guns, rocket launchers and torpedoes.

Modified photo of Guaiqueri class offshore patrol vessel. For a high resolution image click here.
Millennium and MIRADOR sensor.
Photo: U47,
OTO Melara gun of Yekuana.
Photo: ventuari,
The class is armed with the OTO Melara Super Rapido 3in (76.2mm/62cal) gun in a stealth cupola forward of the bridge. The gun is fully automatic and it can intercept air and surface targets at a distance of
4 km (at 85 degrees) and 16 km (effective 8 km) respectively unleashing 120 rounds per minute weighting greater than 6kg each. The gun has excellent performance in any kind of role, such as air defence, anti surface, anti-missile and shore bombardment role. 

The armament completes a Rheinmetall Millennium 35mm Close In Weapon System (CIWS) above the hangar, which is one of the most advanced systems in this category worldwide, operated only by the Royal Danish Navy and Venezuelan Navy. Millennium is a fully automated system using a 35mm gas-operated revolver cannon in a stealth cupola and it is suited to counter symmetric and asymmetric threats. It effectively engages air, sea, and land targets. Millenium is controlled by an electro-optical tracking system, in this case Thales MIRADOR which is positioned aft of the system. Millennium is capable of neutralizing hostile speedboat swarms approaching at high speed. Due to its high rate of fire of about 1,000rds/min (!) and the use of Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction (AHEAD) ammunition with 252rounds ready-to-fire on turret, Millennium is the only medium-calibre naval gun capable of engaging fast-moving incoming air targets. A device at the muzzle end of the barrel measures the exact speed of each round as it is fired, and automatically sets the fuse to detonate the round as it approaches a pre-set distance from the target. Each round disperses 152 small projectiles to strike the incoming target. Millennium is effective at ranges of up to 3,500 m for air targets and up to 5,000m for surface targets.

Armed POVZEE (Avante 2200)
The vessel despite her size that is equal to a corvette and the advanced electronic equipment (see next paragraphs) lacks any other weapon systems and therefore the only missions the ship can execute is those of a ship in a patrol role. However, there is already provision for future installations of missile systems and torpedo launchers. Specifically, the space behind the main gun, it has been designed in such way that it can receive eight (8) VLS launchers for short-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) such as MICA VL. Amidships there is also large space for two quad launchers for surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) such as Exocet anti-ship missiles, there are even the supporting connection on the deck. Amidships, it is clear also a hatch on each side of the ship for torpedo launchers, triple launchers according to Navantia, perhaps such as Mk32 or B515/ILAS.

Guaiqueri, lead ship of the
class. Photo: U47
SRBOC launchers and space amidships
for SSMs. Photo: Delso Lopez
The hatch for torpedo launchers
below the funnel. Photo: U47

OTO Melara 3in gun.
Photo: U47

Eight positions for VLS SAMs.
Photo: Delso Lopez

SMART-S 3D radar. Photo: U47,
The vessels equips the SMART-S Mk2, Thales’s latest 3D multibeam radar that operates in S-band (E/F-band) and it is optimised for medium-to-long-range  air and surface surveillance and target designation in littoral environments. The latter consisting of a mix of sea, land, islands, coastal rains and thunderstorms and a multiple of radar targets including small surface targets, helicopters and anti-ship missiles. SMART-S Mk2 is extremely suitable as the main air and surface surveillance radar in a one radar concept for light frigates, corvettes and large landing ships. Pulse-Doppler processing enables fast target track initiation and stealth target detection, even in a cluttered environment. With its 2 main modes, 250-km range for air targets and 80km for surface targets (of course the range is decreased with the decrease of the target's radar cross section, a track capacity of about 750 tracks, special helicopter mode, surface fire channels, easy installation, high reliability and easy maintainability, SMART-S Mk2 is one of the most advanced radars in its category.

Kariña, final ship of the Guaiqueri class. Photo: b47b56
Kariña, final ship of the Guaiqueri class. Photo: b47b56

STING EO and SCOUT LPI radars.
Photo: U47,
In the electronic equipment of the boats it is included the Thales  STING-EO Mk2, a highly capable, medium range, lightweight, dual band (I and K) weapon control system, primarily for gun control. The system offers support functions such as sector search (with automatic target detection), missile launch detection, projectile position measuring during gun fire and kill assessment support, it supports gun fire control, it performs kill assessment and makes a valuable contribution to classification and identification of threats. In addition, the system can be used as a surveillance sensor, even under radar silence conditions. STING-EO Mk2 combines a 1.2 m radar director with a full set of electro-optic equipment (TV/IR/laser), including optronic tracking and an automatic ‘best sensor’ selection process. The three data sources (I, K and EO) provide high redundancy, high performance and ECCM resistance. A shell-measuring feature is incorporated to support facilities such as Pre-Action Calibration (PAC) and Miss Distance Indication (MDI). The fully solid state STING-EO Mk2 provides the best weapon control for medium-sized vessels. The instrumental ranges are 72km in X-band and 17km in K-band.

The main mast of the ships with the ALTESSE
C-ESM/COMINT antenna. Photo: U47
The Thales SCOUT Mk2, a Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) radar, it is the short-to-medium range surface surveillance and tactical navigation radar of the ships. The system can be operated remotely (radio or line connection). It is an all-weather fully solid-state system of high reliability operating in X-band radar feauturing Frequency Modulation Continuous Wave (FMCW) and therefore has an extremely low output power which makes the system ideal for cover operations in hostile environments where radar silence is required and thus its transmissions cannot be detected by ESM systems or radar warning receivers. SCOUT Mk2 outstandingly detects targets in adverse sea clutter conditions, thanks to its very small range cell size. The system is also very suitable for coastal surveillance.

Bell 412EP  carrying two FN HMP-RL (Heavy Machine gun Pod - Rocket Launcher)
Photo: Delso Lopez

MIRADOR. Photo: Thales
MIRADOR behind Millennium CIWS
As it was mentioned in an earlier paragraph, the ships use the Thales MIRADOR electro-optical tracking and fire control system. MIRADOR is a compact, fully optronic observation and weapon control system. The one-piece stealthy sensor head houses a mix of electro- optical sensors for TV surveillance, TV tracking, IR tracking and laser range finding. Its lightweight design enables ultra-quick responses. An ergonomically designed state-of-the-art Human Machine Interface completes the system in a stand-alone configuration. MIRADOR acts as a secondary passive fire control and observation channel on board.

The lead ship in the Guaiqueri class.
Vigile ESM on the mast
Vigile 100 ESM. Photo: Thales
The vessels of the class are equipped with Thales VIGILE 100 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system, the latest generation ESM system from Thales, and Thales ALTESSE Communications ESM (C-ESM) and Communications Intelligence (COMINT) antenna. Vigile provides a real-time tactical view of the surrounding area – delivering effective situational awareness, threat assessment, warning and ELINT in complex littoral environments. All the weapons systems, radars, sensors, EW system, SRBOC launchers and communications in the modern TACTICOS Combat Management System (CMS) of the vessels with 4 Multifunctional Operator Consoles (MOC) Mk3.
A ship of the Guaiqueri class oceanic patrol vessels. Photo: Navantia

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