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GABRIEL Watches Over Finnish Maritime Defence

Finland’s ‘Hamina’ class & future Squadron 2020 ships receive GABRIEL anti-ship missile


On 5 June, Finnish Minister of Defence, Jussi Niinistö, authorised the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command to make an agreement for the purchase of Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) GABRIEL anti-ship missile (AShM) system. The missile will be known in the Finnish Navy (Merivoimat) as the Surface-to-Surface Missile System 2020 (SSMS2020) and will come to replace Saab’s RBS15 (known in Finland as the MTO85M ) onboard the four ‘Hamina’ class guided-missile patrol combatant, currently undergoing their mid-life upgrade with Patria, as well as arm the future four Squadron 2020 corvettes.

The mid-life upgrade of the four ‘Hamina’ class patrol combatants aims to ensure that the ships will continue to provide the Finnish Navy with capabilities for anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW) as well as territorial and sea lines of communication (SLOC) protection once the two ‘Hämeenmaa’ class minelayers and the four ‘Rauma’ class guided-missile patrol combatants are decommissioned by 2025. It will also secure the capabilities until the navy begins commissioning its new Squadron 2020 corvettes, which should be around 2023 with a scheduled completed squadron delivered by 2027.

According to news sources, the GABRIEL AShM family belong to the class of short-range anti ship cruise missiles, have a single warhead with HE semi-armour piercing and have a range that varies from 35km (for the earliest versions Mk 1 to 3) to 200-400km for the latest versions, Mk4 and 5. The acquisition value of the contract is €162million, with a €193million option, however details with regard to the variant or the quantities of SSMS2020 have not been disclosed.

Deliveries of the SSMS2020 will take place between 2019 and 2025, and the new missiles will contribute to enhancing the role of the Finnish Navy for maritime defence which, according to a document published in 2017 by the Finnish Ministry of Defence, ‘Squadron 2020: The Finnish Defence Forces’ Strategic Project,’ entails the following: “Control of the sea in a specific area is established through year-round presence and surveillance and, when necessary, by laying mines and using the surface-to-surface missiles to repel an attack on the coast and in the open sea. As a result, own operations are protected, a potential aggressor is threatened and the threshold to launch an attack is high.”

IAI’s GABRIEL AShM was selected from a pool of bidders that also included Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM), MBDA’s EXOCET and Boeing’s Harpoon. The selection criteria reportedly included costs, schedule, lifecycle costs, security of supply and compatibility with existing infrastructure and defence system.

Dr. Alix Valenti

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