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Multi-role frigate

NNS Aradu

The unique Aradu is the most powerful warship in Africa, and the first of the MEKO series of warships, but she is likely to be retired soon

Country of origin Germany
Entered service 1982
Crew 250 men
Sea endurance ~ 30 days
Dimensions and displacement
Length 125.6 m
Beam 15 m
Draught 5.8 m
Displacement, standard 2 900 t
Displacement, full load 3 360 t
Propulsion and speed
Speed 30 knots
Range 12 000 km at 15 knots
Propulsion CODAG, 64300 shp driving 2 shafts
Helicopters 1 x Lynx Mk.89
Artillery 1 x 127-mm dual-purpose gun, 4 x Twin Fast Forty 40-mm CIWS
Missiles 1 x 8-cell Albatros SAM launcher, 8x single-cell Otomat AShM launchers
Torpedoes 2 x tripple-tube launchers for 324-mm torpedoes
Other depth charges


   The Aradu (Hausa for "Thunder") is a multi-role frigate operated by the Nigerian Navy, and easily the most heavily-armed warship in service with any African nation. She was based on the Blohm & Voss MEKO 360 design pattern (specifically, her design is designated by the manufacturer as MEKO 360H1), of which Argentina also bought several more (see below), but beyond her general hull type, the Aradu is a unique warship. It was the world's first warship with modular construction. She is also often classified as a destroyer; a designation not entirely unjustified, given the Aradu's heavy arsenal.

   The origins of the Aradu date back to the mid-1970s, when the Nigerian government concluded that a successor for the Frigate Nigeria (later re-named Obuma) was required in order to meet maritime security needs. The Navy selected a design based on the Blohm & Voss company's MEKO 360 design, and after the order was finalized in 1978, construction began. Originally planned to be named "The Republic", the new frigate was laid-down at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg on December 1st 1978, launched on January 25th 1980, and was subsequently renamed Aradu in November of 1980. She was finally commissioned in the Nigerian Navy on February 20th 1982, receiving the pennant number F89.

   The Aradu's main gun is an OTO Melara Compact 127-mm/54 dual-purpose gun. It traverses through +/-180 degrees at up to 45 degrees/second, and elevates from -15 to +83 degrees at up to 40 degrees/second. The 127-mm/54 Compact gun fires 31 kg projectiles at up to 40 rounds/minute, out to a maximum range of 23 130 m (though the effective range is 15 000 m) and an anti-aircraft ceiling of 7 000 m. This is one of the most capable dual-purpose guns in service today, and is capable of engaging ships, land targets, aircraft, and even some anti-ship missiles.

   The anti-aircraft battery is comprised of four Breda "Twin Fast Forty" CIWS turrets, each with two Bofors 40-mm/70 automatic cannons, with one mounted at each corner of the superstructure. This turret traverses through 360 degrees at a rate of up to 100 degrees/second, and elevates from -13 to +85 degrees at up to degrees/second. It fires a 2.5 kg projectile at up to 900 rounds/minute (with both guns firing), out to a maximum range of 12 500 m and an anti-aircraft ceiling of 8 700 m. This weapon has immense anti-aircraft capability within its range, and Breda claims that the Twin Fast Forty is capable of destroying a supersonic cruise missile at up to 3 000 m. It selectively fires APFSDS or PFHE rounds (or both simultaneously, via dual feed), and automatically switches entirely to APFSDS rounds if a supersonic threat closes to within 1 000m.

   The primary anti-aircraft weapon, however, is the Albatros SAM system. This weapon was developed from the Aspide Mk.1, which in turn was a development of the Raytheon RIM-7 Sea Sparrow. The Albatros is a 230 kg semi-active radar homing missile with a 33 kg continuous rod warhead, and has an effective range of 18.5 km (10 nm). It is launched from the same Mk.29 8-cell launcher as used for the Sea Sparrow.

   The ammunition load consists of 500 127-mm shells, 2944 40-mm shells, 32 Aspide SAMs, 8 Otomat AShMs. Depth charges and helicopter-served ordnance are also carried, but in unpublished quantities.

   Propulsion is provided by a Combined Diesel and Gas-type (CODAG) system, with 2 Rolls-Royce TM3B gas turbines producing 50 880 shp, and 2 MTU 20V 956 TM92 diesels producing 10 420 shp, for a combined total of 61 300 shp driving 2 shafts. Approximately 480 t of fuel, allowing for a maximum range of 12 000 km (6500 nm) at 15 knots.

   A simple ECM suite is fitted, with a Decca RDL-2 ESM system, and two chaff mortars.

   Due to her age the NNS Aradu hasn't made any long-distance cruises since 2005, and was eventually laid-up in 2011. There is an ongoing debate in Nigeria as to whether the Aradu should be overhauled and returned to active service, or replaced with a new warship. As of late 2016, neither choice has been decided upon, and the Aradu is still tied to her moorings.


Related vessels


   Almirante Brown class destroyers: This was the second and last class of warships based on the MEKO 360 design, and were designated MEKO 360H2. They are effectively half-sisters of the Aradu. Four were built, and as of 2016, remain in active service.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Aradu (F89) 1978 1980 1982

laid up since 2011



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