On March 29, 2021, during a visit to Lorient of the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, Naval Group received notification of the order for two Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) frigates by the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA). The acceleration of the FDI program will support the activity of the Naval Group site in Lorient where the frigates are designed and built, also ensuring the preservation of skills.
The two frigates – the second (Admiral Louzeau) and third (Admiral Castex) in a series of five – will both be delivered in 2025, whereas the original plan was to deliver them every 18 months.
The first FDI (Admiral Ronarc’h), for which construction work began in 2020, is scheduled for delivery in 2024.
Pierre Eric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group said: «We are honoured by the confidence of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. It is a strong message for local jobs and the preservation of our very unique skills, but also to international navies that could be interested in this frigate. We will mobilise all our industrial and technological excellence to meet the new deadlines».
With a tonnage of more than 4,200 tonnes and a length of 121 metres/397 feet, the FDI frigates are based on a digital and scalable architecture built around our SETIS 3.0 combat management system.
They can conduct all the missions of modern navies (anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare or special forces projection) and address new threats such as cyber attacks and asymmetric threats.
The FDI also benefits from the best technologies available on the naval defence market, including the latest Thales multi-function radar with active antenna and fixed panels as well as a fully digital electronic warfare system.
Naval Group employs 2,200 people at its Lorient site, where it builds surface ships for its customers, including the FREMM multimission frigates and Gowind corvettes.
Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed forces, will announce on February 19, 2021, at the Centre of expertise for Hydrodynamic techniques of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), the launch of the program for the third generation of SSBN (SNLE 3G) for the French Navy. This submarine program is a major challenge for Naval Group, a leading industry partner in the service of the French sovereignty. The first of class is scheduled to enter operational service by 2035. Three other submarines will then be delivered, every five years.
Pierre-Eric Pommellet, Naval Group CEO, declared on this occasion: «Naval Group is very proud to put its skills, talents and industrial resources at the service of France’s nuclear deterrence. The whole company will be mobilized with its partners to carry out this exceptional project. We are aware of our responsibility and we will do our utmost, as previous generations have done, to provide France with the tool of its sovereignty».
SSBN remain one of the most complex industrial products ever made. Their design and construction require rare know-how, unique industrial means and the ability to federate the contributions of two hundred partner companies that make up the French defence industrial base, present across the country.
Naval Group benefits from a unique position as a systems architect and integrator which enables it, in collaboration with TechnicAtome, the prime contractor for the nuclear boiler room, to commit to the overall performance of these armed vessels, to assume overall responsibility for their construction and to guarantee control of quality, deadlines and costs.
A core program for French sovereignty
The program aims to provide a new generation of four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines that will serve the French Navy’s operational needs between the 2030s and the 2090s.
They will gradually replace the second-generation SSBN that will be phased out of active service during 2030s and 2040s, to be replaced by these third-generation submarines.
The SNLE 3G program is being carried out on behalf of the French government, under the auspices of the DGA and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), in conjunction with the Armed Forces Staff and the French Navy.
Mobilisation of the whole the naval defence industry
More than 200 companies from the French defence industrial and technological base will work with Naval Group to provide design or construction services for equipment and systems.
In the end, over the next 30 years, this program will represent up to 100 million hours of work, including 15 million hours of design and more than 80 million hours of construction.
400 skills required
Most of Naval Group’s sites will be mobilised for this program.
At the Cherbourg site, more than 300 employees work in design activities, and construction represent more than 2,000 employees. The teams in Cherbourg will build the platform (hull, structure, part of the internal modules), integrate the equipment and systems into the platform, and carry out the commissioning and testing of the submarine’s facilities.
The Nantes-Indret site will produce the main components of the boiler room and build the major modules, such as the engine unit module and the nuclear boiler room module.
The Angoulême-Ruelle site will design and build the submarine’s structural equipment: weapon launcher tubes, masts, weapon handling system, etc.
The Ollioules site will be the reference site for embedded information systems. It will design and integrate the combat system and the control system.
The Bagneux site concentrates various program management activities.
The Lorient site will contribute to the design of the SNLE 3G, and will produce the composite parts.
The Brest site will be called upon to prepare the reception and support of the future SNLE 3G, at the heart of the Ile Longue base, as well as its tests on the launching device in Cherbourg.
Launch of the third generation of French nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines
Airbus Defence and Space mini UAS subsidiary Survey Copter signed a contract with French DGA Armament general directorate to provide the French Navy with 11 systems, (22 aircraft), of the electrically powered fixed-wing Aliaca maritime version Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) (officially called SMDM/«Systèmes de Mini Drones aériens embarqués pour la Marine» by French authorities), including training and integrated logistic support. First deliveries are expected in 2021.
«We are honored to contribute to the missions of the French Navy which we will support with the highest standards of quality and reliability. This new contract strengthens Survey Copter’s position as a global key player for maritime mini UAS», said Nicolas Askamp, Head of Survey Copter/Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems.
The Aliaca maritime UAS is a high endurance versatile system allowing up to 3 hours missions over a 50 km/31 miles/27 NM range, perfectly adapted to maritime missions with high gyro stabilized Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) payload performances and qualified to operate in severe environmental conditions. Launched by catapult, the Aliaca maritime UAS concludes its flight by landing automatically using a dedicated net landing solution. With a length of 2,2 m/7.2 feet and a wingspan of 3,6 m/11.8 feet for a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg/35 lbs., the Aliaca maritime UAS benefits from a powerful yet silent electric motor. The system can be deployed easily and rapidly in less than 15 minutes by 2 operators only.
Similarly, the «user-friendly» ground control station enables the operator to constantly monitor the automatic flight of the UAS while receiving in real-time day and night images and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data gathered by its on-board sensors.
It is designed to conduct several types of missions around the ships, including increasing the understanding of the tactical situation, control of illegal operations at sea, search-and-rescue, traffic monitoring, pollution detection, tracking of any suspicious behaviour in the ship environment and coastal surveillance.
This light on-board aerial solution gives the opportunity to vessels, traditionally not equipped with aerial assets, to enhance their tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, support decision making and reactivity in operations.
The Aliaca maritime UAS can easily be integrated on board any ships, with or without helicopter landing-deck, and its small logistic footprint enables operations and storage on board smaller sized ships. Its integration does not require heavy on-board modification nor storage of specific fuel.
The result of 10 years of Research and Development (R&D) investments and on-board experimentations, Survey Copter’s «off the shelf» Aliaca maritime UAS is a robust and resistant system to the corrosive maritime environment, an adapted solution to the electro-magnetic constrains on board, and benefits from an efficient net recovery system, fully automated, meaning that no human action is required during the recovery phase.
MBDA has carried out the first demonstration of the operational capabilities of LYNKEUS Dismounted, comprising the MMP system in «infantry» configuration and a Novadem NX70 drone linked via radio to its weapon terminal.
Carried out with the support of the French Army and of the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) at the Canjuers military camp in the south of France, this firing was representative of a ‘Beyond Line Of Sight’ (BLOS) engagement.
During this demonstration, the drone enabled the detection and identification of a tank located outside the MMP operator’s field of vision. The transfer of the coordinates for the target to the MMP firing station illustrated the possibility of engaging a target not directly seen by the operator. The missile was «locked-on» to the target during its flight by the MMP operator after detecting the tank via the video stream from the MMP seeker, which was continuously transmitted to the firing station via fibre optics. The demonstration successfully concluded with a direct hit on the target.
This demonstration confirms the capabilities offered by LYNKEUS for the quality and control of the information chain going from the drone to the firing station. It also proves the precision of the extraction of the coordinates for the target.
Philippe Gouyon, Military Advisor at MBDA, said: «This firing also concludes a year-long tactical evaluation conducted with the Army and Novadem exploring all the capabilities of the system and thus, allows MBDA to propose an MMP/drone combination that meets the needs of remote observation and target designation of contact units. These experiments notably included real-time engagement simulations in virtual reality but also combining, in the field, real equipment (drones, weapon terminal) and MMP simulators implemented by Land Forces units. We are very satisfied with the results of this work, which made it possible to understand the forces’ needs to finalize the system carrying the BLOS capability for dismounted combat».
The collaborative engagement capacity allowing firing ‘beyond line of sight’ is a breakthrough operational concept, supported at European level by the participants in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) BLOS project.
Naval Group manufactured this new-generation propeller thanks to a metal 3D printing process. Mounted on a tripartite minehunter, the propeller will now accompany the ship in all of its operational missions.
This propeller is a technological exploit. With its 2.5-metre/8.2-foot span supported by five 200-kg/441-lbs. blades, the equipment left the workshops of the Naval Group site of Nantes-Indret in October 2020 for the site of Brest in order to be mounted on the propeller shaft. As part of its major technical stop, the assembly was transferred to the submarine base to be mounted on the intermediate shaft of the Andromède in November. Sea trials were then performed successfully at the end of December.
A world first for this on-board innovation
«Obtaining military naval quality requires rigorous development. Nearly three years of R&D – carried out by the Technical and Innovation Department in cooperation with the Ecole Centrale de Nantes within the framework of the LabCom Joint Laboratory of Maritime Technology – went into the development of the deposition process of metal wire fusion», states Emmanuel Chol, Director of the Nantes-Indret site. «Today, we witness a world first. It is the largest metal 3D-printed thruster ever to have been manufactured and the first propeller resulting from this technology, embarked on board a military ship and manufactured for use beyond just sea trials».
The harsh conditions in which ships are used warrant the need to meet strict requirements (corrosion, fatigue, shock resistance, etc.). Naval Group worked together Bureau Véritas throughout the process to present its technical justification file in order to allow the SSF (Fleet Support Services) and the DGA (French Defence Procurement Agency) to authorise the trial of the blades produced on a military ship in normal operating conditions. The blades received certification from Bureau Véritas.
€7 million investment in metal 3D printing in 2021
For Eric Balufin, Director of the Naval Group site of Brest, «the assembly of this 3D-printed propeller shows great promise for the future. This new technology will enable us to considerably reduce technical constraints, and therefore allow for new manufacturing solutions for complex geometrical shapes which cannot be produced through conventional processes. It will also enable us to greatly reduce production time and consequently in-service support».
This propeller is a first step. A new development phase will begin, aimed at revamping the detailed design of other parts so that they benefit from 3D printing (acoustic discretion, weight reduction, increased productivity of the parts). For example, 3D-printed production of thrusters will provide ships with greater efficacy at sea: increased thrust efficiency, stealth and lightening.
Nexter, Thales and Arquus, as part of the temporary grouping of companies (GME) EBMR (Engins Blindés Multi-Rôles), presented the 128th GRIFFON planned for 2020 to the French Delegation for Armaments (DGA). Under the terms of the SCORPION program, and despite an unprecedented health crisis that profoundly affected production, the three manufacturers were able to take the challenge and meet their contractual objectives.
After this step, the last GRIFFONs will have to be submitted to the verification operations carried out by the DGA’s quality department. The vehicles will then be transported to the Canjuers site where the Army will proceed to take them into account; it is then that the DGA will formally receive them. To date, 90 GRIFFON have completed this route, adding to the 92 GRIFFON delivered in 2019. From January 2021, the last vehicles that left the production line in December will join them in the regiments, catching up very early in 2021 with the delay due to the health crisis.
From March 2020, Covid-19 has indeed strongly disrupted the industrial organization of the program. The site of Roanne, where the GRIFFON and JAGUAR are assembled, was forced to suspend its activity from March 20 to 30 in order to allow the installation of a structure adapted to the resumption of the activity under maximum safety conditions. Since then, two teams have been working on the lines in shifts of eight consecutive hours (2×8) to ensure that the lines are operational during these 16-hour days. Closely linked to their government contacts and after consulting their suppliers, the members of the GME quickly reviewed the initial schedule: the 2020 objectives were maintained for GRIFFON; the first deliveries of JAGUAR were postponed to April 2021; and this, while preserving the number of deliveries at the end of 2021.
The year 2020 was marked by the passage of several major milestones for the GME. In September, the DGA notified the third conditional tranche of the EBMR contract, enabling the second batch of vehicles (271 GRIFFON and 42 JAGUAR by 2023) to go into production. In November, the GRIFFON command post vehicle (EPC) was qualified. Thus, among the 128 GRIFFONs of 2020, 35 examples of this new variant were presented to the administration, an additional difficulty that the EPC teams overcame. Finally, the new-generation T1 remotely operated turret that will arm the GRIFFONs was also qualified by the DGA.
Nexter, Arquus and Thales would like to pay tribute to the exceptional commitment of their teams. Their sense of duty and creativity have enabled them to meet the expectations of the French Army and its combatants as best they could, while greatly limiting the impact of the health crisis.
The President of the Republic announced the launch of studies for the replacement of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier by a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by 2038. Naval Group is delighted with this decision and will be involved in this historic project with its major industrial partners Chantiers de l’Atlantique, TechnicAtome and Dassault Aviation. Naval Group’s know-how and skills will be fully mobilised to meet the French armed forces’ expectations. The President of the French Republic’s choice is a major boost for the French defence industrial and technological base and the nuclear industry as this project will mobilise several hundred jobs in France, and then several thousand each year in the implementation phase.
Pierre Eric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group said: «We are delighted with the announcement by the President of the French Republic, which will enable France to maintain its position in the very restricted circle of major powers holding a nuclear aircraft carrier. This project will help develop jobs in the defence industrial and technological base and ensure the continuity of our skills in the current health and economic crisis. Naval Group, its partners and its entire ecosystem will enable the French Navy to benefit from the best naval systems for its flagship. We are committed, as an overall architect, to respond, together with our partners Chantiers de l’Atlantique and TechnicAtome, as well as Dassault Aviation, to the expression of needs of the French general armament directorate (DGA) and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). Finally, this project will make it possible to develop innovation in the fields of propulsion and high added-value military systems, thus maintaining France’s technological lead and its position as a key geostrategic player. This is a huge pride for Naval Group to begin the building of the biggest warship France has ever built».
Naval Group has been contributing for 60 years to the design, construction and maintenance in operational condition of the French aircraft carriers
As the European leader in naval defence, Naval Group has for many decades ensured the technological superiority of the vessels of the French Navy and its international customers. Their operational excellence has been regularly demonstrated.
Among its many accomplishments, Naval Group has contributed to the design, construction and maintenance in operational condition of the three aircraft carriers of the French Navy: the Clémenceau, the Foch and the Charles de Gaulle. These ships have contributed to France’s influence in many conflict areas around the world. Naval Group is one of a very small number of industrial companies capable of building aircraft carriers.
More specifically, Naval Group has also built and integrated, in partnership with the CEA and TechnicAtome, the two nuclear boilers on-board the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, the first French aircraft carrier equipped with nuclear propulsion. This nuclear-powered vessel has proven her reliability and safety. Nuclear propulsion gives this ship a considerable autonomy at sea and a great flexibility of use.
Having entered active service in 2001, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will be in service until approximately 2038.
Naval Group’s exceptional skills, unique in Europe, will be fully mobilised
Naval Group, as a system integrator and prime contractor for the French Navy’s submarines and surface vessels, has developed advanced and rare skills. Among its expertise, Naval Group has skills in three key areas in particular: the activities of architect and overall prime contractor, of systems integrator of complex naval weapon systems, and concerning nuclear propulsion, the manufacture and assembly of reactors, and the maintenance in operational condition of nuclear boilers.
Naval Group also has unique expertise in Europe in the integration and implementation of an aircraft carrier equipped with catapults and landing brakes as well as her air group. Integrating more than 200,000 pieces of equipment in 2,500 premises, producing more than 10,000 drawings, managing more than 3,000 contracts, and assembling 1,200 km of cables and 300 km of piping require a cutting-edge expertise. This expertise also covers the integration of the combat and navigation systems. Fully interconnected with allies units, the combat system enables to prepare, coordinate and lead the aircraft carrier’s actions and those of the naval aviation group in real time. The combat system also ensures the ship self-defence and the security of internal as well as external communications.
In addition, Naval Group masters the implementation of fighter aviation on aircraft carriers with catapults and arresting strands. The aircraft is the central element of the aircraft carrier, whose main function is that of a mobile air base capable of operating on all the seas of the globe.
In addition, Naval Group has infrastructures dedicated to these areas of expertise. For nuclear propulsion, for example, there is a test platform for turbo-alternator modules at the Naval Group site in Nantes-Indret. The company also has integration platforms for combat systems and control systems, and a unique tool for simulating flows on the flight deck of aeronautical munitions combined with virtual reality visualization.
The project for the future aircraft carrier guarantees the durability of skills and jobs for the entire French defence industrial and technological base
The development and construction of the new generation aircraft carrier represents an investment of nearly twenty years, from 2021 to 2038. After a sketch phase, Naval Group and its industrial partners will now be in charge of carrying out a two-year preliminary design studiy, which will be followed by detailed design studies that will finally precede the development and construction of the aircraft carrier, a product of rare complexity.
The nuclear component of the propulsion, the implementation of on-board aviation and the operation of the new-generation aircraft carrier will lead Naval Group to reinforce key skills of engineers, technicians and workers at all Naval Group sites: Lorient, Nantes-Indret, Toulon, Angoulême-Ruelle and Brest, as well as those of its major partners Chantiers de l’Atlantique, TechnicAtome and Dassault Aviation.
The Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile has completed its qualification firings trials, with a successful final firing at the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) test site at Ile du Levant on 17 November.
Soon to start equipping the Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat and Marine nationale’s H160M Guépard shipborne helicopters, the Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile is a co-operation project developed under the Lancaster House treaty between France and the United Kingdom. The Sea Venom/ANL missile is the first programme to take full advantage of the cross-border centres of excellence on missile technologies launched by the Lancaster House treaty, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this month.
The final qualification trial tested the missile’s advanced target discrimination within a complex and cluttered naval scenario.
Éric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «I want to congratulate the UK-French teams across both MBDA and our governments for the commitment they have shown in meeting this qualification milestone amid the disruption caused by Covid-19. Together they have proven that through co-operation we can jointly overcome adversity and deliver leading edge military capabilities».
Previous trials have tested the missiles launch envelope, release envelope and engagement modes, such as its low-altitude sea-skimming flight, Lock On After Launch (LOAL), Lock On Before Launch (LOBL), operator-in-the-loop, and aimpoint refinement.
During a visit to the Dassault Aviation plant in Seclin, in northern France, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, today announced the upcoming notification of the contract for the «Albatros» Maritime Surveillance and Intervention Aircraft (AVSIMAR) program, which will be based on the Dassault Aviation Falcon 2000LXS. In accordance with the multiyear military spending bill (LPM), the initial order is for seven aircraft, to be delivered from 2025, out of the planned total of 12.
Dassault Aviation and the dozens of French companies associated with the Falcon programs would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy for their confidence.
The Falcon 2000 Albatros will feature a multifunction radar under the fuselage, a high-performance optronic turret, observation windows, a SAR (Search & Rescue) kit release system and dedicated communication systems.
In line with the aeronautical maintenance transformation policy initiated by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Albatros contract commits Dassault Aviation to a guaranteed availability clause, favoring industrial support in close cooperation with Navy personnel for 10 years.
«The Falcon 2000 Albatros is a high-performance aircraft equipped with a mission system and sensors of the latest generation. From the Falcon 20 of the U.S. Coast Guard to the Falcon 2000MSA of the Japanese Coast Guard, as well as the Falcon 200 Gardian and 50M of the French Navy, we have extensive experience in maritime surveillance, in addition to our long experience in maritime patrol with the Atlantique», said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «Several countries have shown interest in these aircraft, which provide an effective response to the considerable challenges of homeland protection and maritime security and government action at sea: fighting pollution and trafficking, surveillance of borders and exclusion zones, fisheries policing, search and rescue at sea, etc. It is only fitting that France, which has the world’s second largest exclusive economic zone, should be at the forefront in the use of this type of aircraft».
The first Falcon 2000LXS aircraft on which the program will be based will be manufactured in France. The remainder will be produced in India as part of the offset arrangements related to the 2016 Rafale contract. The conversion of the 12 Falcon 2000LXS aircraft into the Albatros configuration will all be carried out in France.
Over the past 50 years, Dassault Aviation has modified many Falcon aircraft to adapt them for maritime surveillance, medical evacuation, cargo transport, calibration, intelligence-gathering, training, etc. These multi-role aircraft represent approximately 10% of the Falcon fleet in service. French government services operate Falcon 10, 200, 50, 900, 2000, 7X and soon 8X aircraft in a strategic intelligence version under the Archange contract.
These multi-role Falcon aircraft are a perfect example of the dual civil/military know-how of Dassault Aviation: they benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our fighter aircraft and, at the same time, they take advantage of the industrial processes used for the highly competitive production of our business jets.
French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that MBDA is to develop the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) program as the main French Army air to ground armament for the Tiger combat helicopter.
MBDA was selected after proposing to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) its MHT/MLP concept (Missile Haut de Trame/Missile Longue Portée – high tier missile/long-range mobile missile) that builds on the technologies of the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), the first 5th generation land combat missile to enter service around the world. Its modular architecture enables easy integration of the MHT/MLP onto a variety of land or air combat platforms in addition to the Tiger.
The MHT/MLP is characterised by its high operational effectiveness. Weighing 20% less than other missiles in its category provides a weight saving of nearly 100 kg/220 lbs. for the Tiger helicopter, which can carry up to eight missiles in combat configuration. Exploiting this weight saving increases the Tiger’s fuel capacity and so its combat endurance, with a significant gain in «Playtime».
The MHT/MLP has a range of over 8 km/5 miles, even when fired from a stationary platform at low altitude. Its multi-effect warhead can handle a wide variety of targets, from modern battle tanks to hardened combat infrastructure. The MHT/MLP performs day or night, including in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) mode, with a two-way data link that sends images from the missile’s high-resolution visible and infrared optronic seeker back to the operator. The crew of the Tiger can use this imagery to choose the missile’s point of impact or to select a new target in flight, making the weapon suitable for fluid battlefield situations.
Commenting on the launch of the programme, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «The MHT/MLP missile combines new technologies, developed with the support of the DGA, with the tried and tested components of the MMP, making it an effector at the forefront of today’s tactical land combat missiles. It offers a flexibility of use unmatched in today’s armed forces, while minimising development risks. And with its all-European design authority, the MHT/MLP programme will fully contribute to the strategic autonomy objectives set by France and the European Union».
«With nearly 350 jobs per year over the next five years and, ultimately, around 250 annual jobs in France during the first 10 years of its production, the development and production of this new missile will help maintain of the national industrial and technological base, and in particular in the Centre region», he added.