According to ekathimerini.com, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on Thursday (October 10) expressed Greece’s willingness to launch talks for the acquisition of two new navy frigates in talks with his French counterpart Florence Parly in Paris.
The ministers signed a statement of intent for the acquisition by the Hellenic Navy of two frigates, Panagiotopoulos said, adding that there was «a long way to go» before an agreement is reached on the required «technical aspects» of the vessels.
Another point of discussion was some pending issues relating to the maintenance of French Mirage fighter jets, he said.
The two ministers also discussed Turkey’s offensive in Syria and developments in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkey continues its illegal prospecting for hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
In comments to reporters after his meeting with Parly, Panagiotopoulos referred to French and Italian vessels in the area, saying that they served to underline the presence of the European Union and its objections to Turkey’s continuing transgressions in Cyprus’ waters.
According to Poder Naval, the submarine Riachuelo (S40), the first of four S-BR (modified Scorpène class) diesel-electric attack submarines of the Submarine Development Program (Prosub), started her sea trials on September 25, 2019.
Sea trials are scheduled to last until the first half of 2020, while boat’s commissioning is scheduled for October 2020.
Riachuelo (S40) was launched at a ceremony held at the Itaguaí Naval Complex on December 14, 2018.
A 533-mm heavy F21 torpedo from the Naval Group and a test Exocet SM39 Block 2 Mod 2 anti-ship missile are expected to be launched during the Riachuelo sea trials, the Navy said.
The Riachuelo will be followed by three more submarines: the Humaitá (S41), scheduled for launch in 2020, the Tonelero (S42) in 2021 and the Angostura (S43) in 2022.
The Directorate-General of Armaments (DGA) on July 16, 2019 took delivery of «Normandie» (D651), the sixth multi-mission frigate (FREMM) for the French Navy. Versatile warships with exceptional performances in anti-submarine warfare and strike capability that is unique in Europe, the FREMMs are the backbone of the French Navy’s surface fleet.
The FREMM program is managed by the Joint Organization for Cooperation on Armament Programs (OCCAR), in cooperation with Italy. It is involved in the modernization of the Navy and the renewal of its frigate component with eight vessels that will form the backbone of the surface fleet.
As project owner for France, the DGA has completed the tests to verify the smooth operation of Normandie (D651) and its compliance with expected performance, in partnership with the Navy and industry. OCCAR authorized the delivery, allowing DGA to hand the ship over to the French Navy.
FREMM, designed and developed by Naval Group, is a stealthy, versatile, enduring and versatile ship with an advanced degree of automation. Her main missions are the control of a zone of maritime operation, on the surface and under the sea, in-depth precision strike with the naval cruise missile (MdCN) that it is the only navy in Europe to operate, and support for projection operations.
She is also capable of operating the Caiman Marine (NFH90), a multi-role shipborne helicopter, with a particularly developed anti-submarine capability. The FREMM-Caiman combination represents a capability jump in the field of anti-submarine warfare. The FREMM is also equipped with the Ecume, the new tactical boat for marine commandos.
The first six frigates are predominantly equipped for anti-submarine warfare missions, while the next two – Alsace (D656) and Aquitaine (D657) – will have air-defense as their primary mission.
The military program law 2019-2025 provides for the delivery to the French navy of these last two frigates in 2021 and 2022.
142 metres/466 feet
20 metres/65.6 feet
27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
123 persons (among whom 14 dedicated to the helicopter detachment)
On July 12 2019, during a ceremony presided over by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Naval Group launched the Suffren, the first of six nuclear submarines of the latest generation in Cherbourg. This event is a key step for the Barracuda program for the benefit of the French Navy.
Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to have presented to the President of the French Republic the first submarine of the Barracuda-class, a symbol of our exceptional know-how and our ability to master the most advanced technologies and the most complex products. The construction of the Suffren is a collective success, the result of a strong cooperation with our long-standing partners: the French Navy and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), but also the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and all the manufacturers of the sector. Now, we are all focused on finalising the Suffren tests at the shipyard, with the start-up of the nuclear boiler room in the coming weeks, but also on producing the complete series. Maintaining our knowledge and adapting to new technologies are among our main priorities».
Vincent Martinot-Lagarde, Director of the Barracuda program at Naval Group, also commented: «To successfully complete this extraordinary project, several thousand women and men worked together, driven by the same values of team spirit and technical excellence. Today, on the occasion of this exceptional ceremony, we are very proud to present our work, which is the result of the extraordinary diversity of our skills».
Naval Group’s know-how and technological expertise
The Suffren is the first of the Barracuda-class series, designed to replace the Rubis-class generation. Naval Group is in charge of the construction of this submarines series, including the design and construction of the ship and information systems as well as the manufacturing of the main components of nuclear boiler rooms.
Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the ship’s architecture (2 500 people) and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) for the nuclear reactor.
With this program, Naval Group irrigates the French industry with more than 10,000 people and 800 companies involved
All the skills within the group are called upon to design and produce the Suffren and the following of the Barracuda series. All Naval Group sites are simultaneously mobilised. Nantes-Indret, Angoulême-Ruelle, Brest and Lorient design and produce different systems and modules. The Ollioules site is responsible for the design and production of the combat system. The entire program is managed from Cherbourg, where the submarines are assembled and tested.
The Toulon site will be in charge of the maintenance of the Suffren and gradually that of the entire series. The in-service support was taken into account from the submarine’s design stage to limit the number and duration of interventions, thus optimising the availability of the Barracuda-class at sea.
The Suffren: a technology and capacity leap
The Suffren is one of the stealthiest submarines over the world. This discretion, combined with its advanced detection capabilities, guarantees its acoustic superiority.
For the first time thanks to the Suffren-class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles (MdCN). The latest generation of SSN also allows the discreet deployment of special forces underwater, in particular thanks to its «divers hatch» and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles.
More discreet, manoeuvrable and mobile, the Suffren has the latest generation of systems, including a centralised and more automated driving.
The technical characteristics of the Suffren-class submarines
On July 04, 2019, the Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) took delivery of the «Garonne» (A605), the fourth and final vessel in the Metropolitan Support and Assistance Vessels (BSAM) program, ordered from the Kership group of companies (Chantiers Piriou and Naval Group). This new Navy vessel will be based in Brest.
This new ship reinforces and modernizes the capabilities of the French Navy. An extremely versatile ship design, the BSAM is designed to carry out three types of missions: the support of naval forces (towing of large-tonnage ships; accompaniment and support of submarines; and training of the forces), maritime security (rescue at sea, assistance to ships in distress, fight against maritime pollution, etc.) and regional support activities (towing machinery, anchoring and maintenance of mooring boxes, lifting of wrecks …).
The first BSAM, the «Loire» (A602), operates from Toulon and the second one in the series, «Rhone» (A603), operates from Brest. The third ship, the «Seine» (A604), which will be admitted to active service in July, after its long-term shakedown cruise that ran from March 25 to June 25, will be based in Toulon.
The Romanian authorities announced on July 03, 2019 the selection of Naval Group and its partner Santierul Naval Constanta (SNC) for the programme to build four new Gowind multi-mission corvettes, to modernize the T22 frigates and to create a maintenance centre and a training centre.
The Naval Group and SNC teams are honoured by the trust of the Romanian authorities and look forward to working together to provide the Romanian Navy with the four state-of-the art Gowind corvettes.
With this programme, Romania will benefit from Naval Group’s long tradition of excellence and experience. The Gowind design has already been chosen by several countries. The platform and its combat system including the Setis Combat Management System (CMS) offer a comprehensive set of state-of-the-art NATO-standard combat-proven capabilities for Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Air Warfare (AAW). The Gowind is the perfect solution for Romania to carry out its strategic missions as a major NATO partner in the Black Sea and will also strengthen European Defence capabilities.
Naval Group and SNC’s offer is based on the complementarities of their partnership, which will ensure Romania’s sovereignty and autonomy since SNC will receive the necessary know-how to support the complete life cycle of the corvettes, from building to maintenance and modernisation.
Naval Group is extremely honored to host the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly. This celebration marks not only the end of work on the six multi-mission frigates, but also the beginning of the manufacturing of the FREMM frigates with reinforced air defence capabilities and of the Defence and Intervention Frigate (FDI), the first fully digital warships.
Hervé Guillou, CEO of Naval Group, and Admiral Christophe Prazuck, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, hosted the Minister for the Armed Forces on board the Normandie (D651) frigate for a visit. This warship was delivered in a record time of 40 months, the shortest completion time of the whole multi-mission frigates program.
Florence Parly and Hervé Guillou had the opportunity to discuss the ongoing and future surface ships programs built in Lorient: FREMM, FDI and aircraft carriers.
Hervé Guillou claimed: «We are proud to meet the expectations set by the Military Programming Law. Today, with the completion of the FREMM Normandie, Naval Group has fulfilled its commitment. This industrial and technical success, which represents more than 2.5 million working hours, encourages us to keep on completing our mission in service of our national and international clients. This project shows once again the firm’s capacity to respect its engagements in terms of costs, deadlines and performance».
The Normandie (D651) is the sixth French multi-mission FREMM frigate. It will soon be delivered in Brest. This program is managed by the OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation) on behalf of – in France – the French Navy and of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA).
At the same time the construction of two multi-mission frigates with renewed anti-air defence capacities – the Alsace (D656) and the Lorraine (D657) – will begin in Lorient. They will be respectively delivered in 2021 and 2022.
Furthermore, Naval Group teams are already launching the program for defence and intervention frigates (FDI) that will be delivered from 2023 onward. This first «fully digital» warship will benefit from the latest digital technologies. The first cut of steel-sheets is expected in October 2019.
FREMM frigates technical characteristics
Heavily armed, the Normandie FREMM deploys the most effective equipment and weapon systems, integrating the SETIS software as well as the Herakles multi-function radar, the Naval Cruise Missile (NCM), the Aster and Exocet MM40 missiles and MU 90 torpedoes.
142 metres/466 feet
20 metres/65.6 feet
27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
123 persons (among whom 14 dedicated to the helicopter detachment)
On May 22, 2019, the Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium, composed of Naval Group and ECA Group, was awarded the contract to supply twelve mine-hunting vessels to the Belgian and Dutch navies. Equipped with around 100 drones, constituting approximately ten drone systems (toolboxes), six ships are destined for the Belgian Navy, while the other six will be delivered to the Dutch Navy.
The contract, worth nearly two billion euros, will last ten years. After a three-year design phase, Belgium Naval & Robotics will launch the production phase of the ships and drone systems with a first delivery expected in 2024.
The Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium as well as the Naval Group and ECA Group teams are honored by the confidence of the Belgian and Dutch navies and look forward to this upcoming collaboration.
An innovative solution for robotic mine warfare
Belgium Naval & Robotics, thanks to Naval Group’s recognized expertise, offers a 2800-ton militarized ship specialized in mine warfare with military characteristics (acoustic and electromagnetic discretion, shock resistance) perfectly adapted to the operational use targeted by the Belgian and Dutch navies. In particular, this vessel incorporates a launch and recovery system for ECA Group’s Inspector 125 Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV). This innovative, robust and reliable system ensures the safety of operators and maneuvers to protect the ship, the USV and its payloads, while offering a high level of mission availability.
The drone systems on board these innovative vessels are the latest generation of drones developed by ECA Group over the past four years. They are integrated into the C2 MCM Umisoft system connected to the Naval Group’s I4drones system to form the mine-warfare mission system integrated into the ship’s combat system.
The solution includes A18-M Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), T18-M towed sonars and Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (MIDS) composed of SEASCAN and KSTER-C Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV). All these drones can be operated autonomously from the USV Inspector 125. The drone system also includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and influence sweeps.
The program provides for the supply of drone systems that can also be projected. Containerized and equipped with handling and communication systems, mine-hunting drone systems can be airlifted and deployed directly from the coast without a ship.
A vast cooperation plan with the Belgian industry
Belgium Naval & Robotics will carry out a significant part of the contract in Belgium, in particular the production of certain equipment for the ship and all naval drones. Ship maintenance will be carried out in Zeebrugge in partnership with Flanders Ship Repair (FSR). The maintenance of naval drones will also be carried out in Zeebrugge according to the needs of the customer, who already has maintenance facilities on his naval base.
The cooperation plan already includes 39 Belgian partners and the notification of the contract will make it possible to finalize the last ones and reach some 50 agreements.
The contract should thus generate an average of 350 jobs per year in the three regions of Belgium.
A reference on export markets
The Belgian and Dutch navies being a reference in mine warfare within NATO, the choice of our consortium is a major asset for export.
The tripartite mine hunter program at the time had generated sales of self-propelled PAP robots in several dozen navies, as well as the export of mine-hunting vessels.
This new success in Belgium should generate many export trade benefits in the coming years. The drones for these customers will be produced by ECA Group in Belgium. Similarly, Naval Group expects a significant number of additional sales of mine-hunting vessels in the near future.
On the 18th April 2019, Naval Group launched the multi-missions FREMM frigate FNS Alsace (D656). First one of the two air defense frigates of the FREMM program (FREMM DA) destined to the French Navy and benefitting from the same antisubmarine warfare performances than the preceding units, the FNS Alsace (D656) benefits from increased capacities in terms of air defense.
Thirteen months after the keel laying of the first block, the FREMM DA Alsace is released from the construction form of the Naval Group site of Lorient. Ninth multi-missions FREMM frigate, it is also the seventh one for the French Navy, ordered by the OCCAR on behalf of the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA).
In order to answer the operational requirements, the Alsace FREMM integrates the last evolutions ordered by the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement (OCCAR), according to an unchanged delivery planning. «The essential of the architecture of the first FREMM designed by Naval Group is conserved but its polyvalence will be increased by enhanced capacities in terms of anti-aerial warfare. These modifications particularly concern the combat system», says Pierre-Jean Cuisinier, director of the FREMM DA program.
The technical adaptations brought by Naval Group are notably translated into a more powerful multifunction radar, reinforced communication tools, three additional consoles for the Combat Management System SETIS in the Combat Information Center (CIC), with enhanced air defense capacities using the Aster 15 and 30 missiles. In a few days, the FREMM Alsace will also receive its new mast, opitmised in order to increase the detection performances.
«This ninth launching is scoring the collaboration between Naval Group, the DGA, the OCCAR and the French Navy in order to produce ships benefitting from the continuous enhancement of the already produced FREMM. Thanks to the good master of the technological risks but also to the determination and the know-how of the group’s teams, it is a new successful challenge», explains Nicolas Gaspard, director of the FREMM programs.
In addition to the ensuring the same anti-submarine warfare missions than the previous FREMM, the FREMM DA Alsace will have the role of ensuring the air defense of major units: the Charles de Gaulle aircraft-carrier or an amphibious helicopter-carrier, within an aero-naval or amphibious group.
The Naval Group teams and its numerous partners are mobilized in order to deliver the two anti-air defense frigates Alsace and Lorraine, respectively on the first semester 2021 and on the second semester 2022.
Seven FREMM have been delivered between 2012 and 2018. The FNS Aquitaine (D650) in 2012, the FNS Provence (D652) in 2015, the FNS Languedoc (D653) in 2016, the FNS Auvergne (D654) in April 2017 and the FNS Bretagne (D655) in July 2018.
On the international side, Morocco received the Mohammed VI (701) in 2014 and Egypt the Tahya Misr (FFG-1001) in 2015. The FNS Normandie (D651) will be delivered in summer 2019 in conformity with the contractual planning.
Technical caracteristics of the air defense FREMM
Strongly armed, the FREMM DA Alsace use the most performant weapon systems and equipment so as: the multifunction Herakles radar, the Aster 15 and 30 and Excocet MM 40 missiles or even the MU 90 torpedo. The performances of its combat system are reinforced with increased radar and communication capacities, a new radar and electro-optical fire-lead, and a Combat Management System SETIS equipped with specific anti-air defense functions.
The contract for the construction and maintenance of twelve new mine countermeasures vessels has been awarded to the Naval Group/ECA Robotics consortium. These vessels, for both the Belgian and Dutch Navies, will be equipped with modular deployment drones. The two governments gave their agreement on March 15th. The European tender was managed by the Belgian Defense but both countries were part of the bid evaluation team.
In early 2018, the Belgian Minister of Defense and his Dutch counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly acquire a new minehunting capability so as to reduce the purchase and maintenance price per ship. The current ships are over thirty years old and will reach the end of their service life in 2023.
The future capability will use unmanned systems on the surface, above water level and under water to detect and neutralize mines. Thanks to this new method of work, the mothership and her crew will be able to stay out of the minefield because only drones will be active there.
Naval mines are relatively inexpensive and widely available weapons. They can easily prevent access to ports and waterways. An incident on the Scheldt or in the North Sea can represent a daily economic loss of fifty million euros. Ensuring the safety of waterways and ports is therefore crucial for our economy. Each week, our ships are engaged as they participate in international missions.
The Belgian Navy has been recognized for over 50 years for its expertise in the field of mine countermeasures. This modernization program will strengthen its position within NATO as an expert and pioneer in the field.
The new system will cost more than two billion euros. Our Navy is waiting for the first of its six ships in 2023. The first Dutch ship will be delivered a year later.