HAMBURG (Reuters) - The German military is to buy new, more capable air defence radar systems for three F-124 frigates, paving the way for the ships to become part of NATO's broader missile defence system, a defence ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
General Volker Wieker, the top military officer, decided to buy radar systems available on the market instead of opting for a new development program or a simple replacement of the current radar systems, the spokesman said.
Experts have said the new system will cost about 450 million euros and is likely to be built by France's Thales, which built the radars in current use, and has been chosen by the Netherlands to supply new radars for its frigates.
Development of a new system would have cost around 500 million euros and could have been led by Airbus, according to experts.
No comment was immediately available from Thales.
Germany works closely with the Dutch and Danish militaries to provide air defense capabilities.
Buying a more capable radar system will also give the three navies a bigger role in integrated NATO missile defense by providing an alternative to the long-range U.S. radar in eastern Turkey that now provides the sole cueing for the U.S. Aegis destroyers and land-based Aegis Ashore system in Romania.
The ministry spokesman declined to say which firm would supply the new radars. He said the ministry's procurement agency would review potential suppliers for the radars, which are due to be installed by the mid-2020s.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Janet Lawrence)