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
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.
6th of January 2021, Alexandria Shipyard Company celebrates the handover of the corvette ENS Port Said (976) as the first Egyptian Gowind corvette that will join the service with the Egyptian naval fleet to carry out its combat missions. The corvette ENS Port Said (976) was launched on 9/2018, and it is the first warship to be built with 100% Egyptian capacity resulting from fruitful technology transfer cooperation with the French side represented in Naval Group company.
The handover ceremony and the raising of the Egyptian flag held in the presence of The Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy Vice Admiral Ahmed Khaled Hassan at Alexandria Shipyard before sailing to Alexandria naval base, ENS Port Said (976) is the first of three Egyptian corvettes that will be joining the service with the naval forces according to a specific schedule.
The Egyptian Gowind Vessels of 102 m/335 feet Total Length, 16 m/52.5 feet Width, 2,600 tons Displacement and a maximum speed of 25 knots/29 mph/46 km/h. The corvette is equipped with facilities for an embarked helicopter and drones. The Gowind corvette accommodates 65 crew members and is fitted with the Naval Group’s SETIS combat management system including Panoramic Sensors and Intelligence Module (PSIM). A panoramic bridge offers 360° visibility and a single enclosed mast offers 360° Sensor visibility.
The Gowind New Multi-Mission Corvette Type Designed for Surveillance, Surface and Subsurface Combat, Protection and Escort Naval Missions, it can also perform Maritime Surveillance and Policing Missions against Trafficking and Piracy. It has many technical characteristics and modern armament systems that enable it to carry out all combat missions at sea, support and protect the land forces along the coast during offensive and defensive operations which makes it a tremendous technological addition to the capabilities of the naval forces in support of their ability to protect the Egyptian national security.
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.
Naval Group has launched the FREMM Lorraine (D657) in Lorient on Friday 13th November. This ship was ordered by the French General Directorate of Armament (DGA) on behalf of the French Navy. The program management is entrusted to the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR). The FREMM Lorraine (D657) is the tenth unit of the FREMM series produced by Naval Group, and the eighth and last one added to the French Navy’s fleet.
It is also the second FREMM frigate of the FREMM DA type, presenting an enhanced air defence capability.
The French Minister of Armed Forces (Minister of Defence) Florence Parly, Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, and General Engineer Emmanuelle Thivillier, in charge of naval programs at the French General Directorate of Armament (DGA) as well as the Chairman and CEO of Naval Group, Pierre Eric Pommellet, alongside employees from the Lorient site participated to the launching ceremony.
The launch of the eighth French Navy’s FREMM
Fifty-four months after the start of the production, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) left the construction form of Naval Group site in Lorient. This operation took place on Friday 13th November 2020, fully complying with the schedule set by the Military Planning Law, while respecting the safety and health rules currently enforced.
Technical adaptations have been made on both FREMM DA such as a more powerful multifunction radar supplied by Thales, enhanced communications, three additional consoles of the Setis Combat Management System in the «central operations center» with an enhanced air defence capability through the use of Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. The FREMM DA also benefits from a new mast, optimized to increase detection performance. In addition to performing the same anti-submarine warfare missions as the previous FREMMs, the FREMM DAs will be responsible for the air defence of major units: Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, or amphibious helicopter carriers (PHA) as part of the naval or amphibious air group.
More generally, the FREMM frigates integrate the evolution of systems over time to ensure the latest units of the series benefit from the latest technologies such as: additional cyber capabilities, deployment of Liaison 22 (liaison between NATO military units), integration of a tactical digital table, etc.
Meeting the operational requirements of the French Armament Procurement Agency (DGA)
«Throughout this demanding program, we have maintained close ties with our customer, in order to best respond to the expectations and the technological challenges regarding the onboard innovations. This feedback led us to change our industrial organization. Modular construction, supply chain optimization and block pre-fabrication have reduced construction lead times and, ultimately, production costs. As a result, we have gained in efficiency and performance, while at the same time improving the working conditions of our employees, which has led to a considerable reduction in accidents at work. We are proud to launch today the latest French FREMM»! declared Laurent Espinasse, Executive Vice-President for Industry at Naval Group.
Naval Group’s site in Lorient offers industrial infrastructures that enable us to meet the technical and technological challenges of the latest generations of military ships, including a 15,000 m2 covered construction form.
The design tools and methods have evolved considerably during the FREMM program thanks to virtual reality. All of the ship’s data, including equipment operating data, is integrated into a digital mock-up. The infrastructures have also been modernized, including the extension and renovation of the construction nave, the installation of three covered paint booths and the extension of the quay.
Ensuring the preservation of key competencies
To deliver frigates with the required military performance, Naval Group has mobilized no less than 250 skills throughout the program. Some of them are very specific and rare and are often the result of a long or even very long acquisition: sheet metal carpenter, formator-straightener, hull welder, pipe fitter…
Naval Group promotes the recruitment of young talents and has recruited 400 work-study students since the beginning of the year and even during the sanitary crisis. This is 50 more than in 2019 and Naval Group site in Lorient is home to 58 of them.
Naval Group is also implementing specific training programs to develop these rare and unique skills, through the introduction of the certificate of joint qualification of metallurgy (CQPM). This certification training, takes place alternatively in a training organization and in industrial workshops over twelve months. A CQPM carpenter-sheet metal worker was opened in September 2019, in collaboration with the IUMM of Lorient, at a Naval Group site in Lorient.
Technical characteristics of FREMM DA
The FREMM program has been running on a stable schedule since the last Military Planning Law. Eight units of the FREMM series have been delivered between 2012 and 2019. Aquitaine (D650) in 2012, Provence (D652) in 2015, Languedoc (D653) in 2016, Auvergne (D654) in April 2017, Bretagne (D655) in July 2018 and Normandie (D651) in July 2019. Alsace (D656) was launched on April 18, 2019 and will be delivered in 2021. Internationally, the Mohammed VI (701) was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and the Tahya Misr (FFG-1001) was delivered in Egypt in 2015.
FREMM DA Alsace (D656) is heavily armed and uses the most powerful weapons systems and equipment such as the Herakles multifunction radar, the Aster 15 and 30 and Exocet MM 40 missiles and the MU 90 torpedoes. The performance of her combat system is enhanced with increased radar and communication capabilities, new radar and electro-optical fire control and a SETIS Combat Management System with specific air defence functions.
466 feet/142 m
65.6 feet/20 m
27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
123 persons (+ 14 people for the helicopter detachment)
On November 12th 2020, INS Vagir (S25) was launched by Smt Vijaya Shripad Naik, wife of Shri Shripad Naik, Hon’ble Raksha Rajya Mantri. INS Vagir (S25) is the fifth P75 Scorpene submarine entirely built by the Indian shipyard Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) based on years of technology transfer and partnership with Naval Group.
After recent commissioning of INS Khanderi (S22) in September 2019 and the launch of the INS Vela (S24) in May 2019, the INS Vagir (S25), the fifth of the series of six Kalvari-class submarines ordered by India in 2005, to be launched.
This event highlights the success of the indigenous submarines construction program of the Government of India. These submarines have been completely built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) through a transfer of technology from Naval Group, in line with Indian Government’s «Make in India» policy. This series of six submarines are fitted with a number of equipment, built in India by qualified and highly trained industrial Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) which form the sound base of the Indian submarine building ecosystem.
«Naval Group is proud to be part of first of its kind P75 Kalvari program to deliver entirely «Made in India» submarines to the Indian Navy. The P75 program is a major element of the strategic Indo-French partnership developed over the last decades. This launch, amidst Covid-19 challenges, represents a new milestone for this unique industrial program and illustrates the Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) of Indian Navy and industry», mentioned Alain Guillou, Senior EVP – International Development at Naval Group.
The Scorpene is a conventional-propulsion submarine designed and developed by Naval Group for all types of mission, such as surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations or intelligence gathering. Extremely stealthy and fast, its level of operating automation allows for a limited crew which reduces its operating costs significantly. Its combat edge is highlighted by the fact that it has 6 weapon launching tubes and 18 weapons (torpedoes, missiles, mines).
With 14 submarines sold internationally by Naval Group, the Scorpene is an essential reference product in the area of conventional attack submarines (SSK) for Navies across the world. The Scorpene can be adapted to meet special needs of international navies.
Naval Group is present in India through its 100% subsidiary Naval Group India. Established in September 2008, Naval Group India’s mission has been to support the indigenisation of equipment for Scorpene submarine, to develop the Indian defence eco-system, as well as to develop design services in India with talented Indian engineers.
Naval Group India endeavours to be a visionary and to further its involvement in empowering more industries by creating a robust eco-system that can cater to the varied defence needs of the country.
Naval Group delivered on 06 November 2020 the Suffren (S635) nuclear attack submarine (SSN) to the French Armament Procurement Agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement) at the Toulon naval base. Intended for the French Navy, the Suffren is the first in a series of six SSN that will gradually replace the submarines of the Rubis-class. The delivery of the Suffren took place today in the presence of a small number of high-ranking personalities, due to the health crisis. Florence Parly, French Minister of Defence, General François Lecointre, Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, Joël Barre, Delegate General for Armament, Admiral Pierre Vandier, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Victor Salvetti, Director of military applications at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO Naval Group, and Loïc Rocard, CEO TechnicAtome, all welcomed this major milestone of the Barracuda program, in the presence of several representatives of the political, industrial and military worlds, including crew members.
Launched in 1998 by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), the Barracuda program renews the submarine component of the French nuclear deterrence capability consisting of six Rubis-class submarines that entered service in the early 1980s. The associated development contract was notified at the end of 2006. More than ten years of studies were required to define a submarine that meets the French Navy’s operational requirements. This first delivery is the beginning of a phase leading to the qualification of this new class.
The delivery of the six submarines will take place over a decade. With a lifespan of more than 30 years, the Suffren-class submarines will be the backbone of the French submarine forces until at least 2060, making it one of the major weapon systems of this century.
Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO Naval Group, declared: «What a long way Naval Group has come with its industrial and governmental partners since the first metal sheet was cut on December 10, 2007, less than a year after the DGA had signed the acquisition contract. The industrial challenges have been numerous. I salute the commitment of Naval Group’s design and production teams, of TechnicAtome – the prime contractor for the onboard nuclear boiler room – as well as those of the DGA, the CEA and the French Navy. Hundreds of French companies – both large and small, at the forefront of which Naval Group stands, have been and continue to be mobilised for the construction of this program. This initial success can only strengthen our collective commitment to deliver the next unit of the Barracuda series, the Duguay-Trouin, in 2022, followed by the other four submarines by the end of the decade».
The construction of these Barracuda submarines mobilises a wide range of exceptional know-how in the most advanced technologies.
Among these, the very special steels, underwater acoustics performances, and the weapon systems make the SSN Barracuda one of the most efficient submarines in the world.
The Barracuda submarines, with their navigation and communication means and their centralised and automated control are also more manoeuvrable and mobile. Another major innovation is the optronic mast, which replaces the telescopic mast, ensuring better collection of visual information and better sharing of this information among the crew. This new feature, combined with advanced detection capabilities, guarantees the superiority of Barracuda submarines in their intelligence missions.
The Barracuda series also offers the French Navy a real combat superiority with, for the first time, a deep strike capability thanks to MBDA Naval Cruise Missiles (NCM). They can also use the Naval Group new Naval Group heavy torpedo F21 as well as MBDA SM39 missiles. The Barracuda submarines also enable the discreet and enhanced deployment of special forces.
This technological and capability leap is the result of more than twenty years of collective work between Naval Group and hundreds of partners of the European defence industrial and technological base. A total of 2,500 men and women (including around 800 from Naval Group subcontractors) are contributing to the design and production of the Barracuda submarines.
All Naval Group sites are currently mobilised for the next five Barracuda submarines. The second of the Barracuda series, the Duguay-Trouin, whose sections will be fully joined by the end of this year, will be delivered in 2022. The third, the Tourville, is being integrated at the side of the Duguay-Trouin. At the Naval Group site in Nantes-Indret, the assembly of the propulsion system and of the nuclear boiler module of the fourth, the De Grasse, is also underway. Finally, Naval Group teams have begun forming the first elements of the hulls of the fifth and sixth submarines, the Rubis and the Casabianca, as well as elements of their nuclear boiler modules.
The infrastructures at the Toulon naval base have been modernised to accommodate this new generation of submarines: «We are ready and very proud to work on the through-life support of the Suffren (S635) in Toulon», said Vincent Vimont, Director of the SSN Operational Maintenance Program at Naval Group.
The project started with definition studies in 2014 and mobilised around 200 people from Naval Group and from 15 subcontractors. Two other basins will also be modernised in the coming years. The teams at the Naval Group Toulon site, specialised in the through-life support of submarines, have been trained in the new technical specifications of the submarine and in the use of the new facilities. They are now qualified to carry out maintenance operations on the Suffren (S635) and her sisterships.
«We managed to optimise the sea trials phase within a 6-month schedule, including 100 days at sea! By comparison, for the Rubis-class it was 15 months! This is the first time that a new vessel has been able to sail twice in a continuous one-month period during her sea trials phase. This demonstrated the submarine’s endurance to our client. To improve our work efficiency, we reduced the number of ashore trials and optimised sea trials», says Philippe Nezondet, head of Suffren (S635) trials at Naval Group.
The sea trials – conducted by the DGA as the ship is manned by the French Navy – aim at proofing the Suffren capacities and the conformity to the ship specifications in order to qualify the Barracuda submarines. These sea trials represent an intense validation phase for a nuclear submarine’s on-board installations. The operations conducted progressively over several test campaigns have made it possible to ensure that the vessel is watertight underwater, that she can be properly maneuvered, but also to assess the performance of the combat system, tactical weapons and all the high-tech equipment on-board. These tests were concluded with the firing of the SM39 missile on September 23, and of the Naval Cruise Missile (NCM) on October 20. The NCM is a major advantage of the Barracuda submarines over their predecessors: French submarines will now be able to fire underwater and hit a land-based target several hundred kilometres away. This new capability guarantees the technological superiority of French Navy ships.
Technical characteristics of the Suffren-class SSN
The SMX31E is Naval Group newest submarine concept. She integrates the latest digital technologies for reinforced operational efficiency and significant versatility of use. Stealthier thanks to her biomimetic covering, the ship also benefits from an unmatched electrical energy storage capacity and a new propulsion concept.
Naval Group seeks to build a long-term vision, consistent with the operational needs expressed by its customers in order to invest in systems which will remain technologically superior over the 30 to 40 years of ships’ lifecycles.
Naval Group naval architects project themselves in the future. On the horizon of 2040, in a context of permanent surveillance of oceans, navies will have to navigate in very intricate environment. The objectives for submariners will be to operate freely, to share information safely and to be able to act firmly and swiftly.
The SMX31E offers a stealthier, more autonomous and flexible solution. More than a smart ship, the SMX31E constitutes a smart naval force to gain superiority in future underwater battlefields.
The increased invulnerability is the result of the biomimetic shape and the skin material making it stealthier against active sonar emissions. Endurance is the other asset of the SMX31E – it allows the crew to be submerged for months thanks to the high energy capacities and efficient energy management system.
Using advanced artificial intelligence technology, this submarine offers maximal connectivity to interact with the rest of the fleet in a distributed underwater network. This new IT design enables the crew to collect and process data efficiently with remote sensors allowing them to master underwater tactical situation. At the end of the day, the SMX 31E can monitor areas 10 times larger than today with the same efficiency.
This smart ship always keeps human decision in the loop and becomes a force multiplier thanks to the integration of all kinds of drones including large sized drones. Connected to each other, these vectors contribute to better control an extended underwater battlefield.
On October 20, 2020, the Suffren, the first of the six nuclear attack submarines (ANS) of the Barracuda program, successfully completed a Naval Cruise Missile (MdCN) test firing off the DGA Essais de Missiles site at Biscarrosse (Landes).
Florence Parly salutes this success: «For the first time, a French submarine has fired a cruise missile. This success gives our Navy a new strategic capability and places it among the best in the world. This new weapon is a real breakthrough, the fruit of years of effort and investment, notably permitted by the 2019-2025 military programming law. I congratulate all those – French Navy, DGA, industry – who made this firing possible. French submarine forces could hitherto strike submarines and surface ships. They can now destroy heavy land infrastructure at long ranges».
This firing enabled the qualification of the integration of all the armaments of the Suffren, carried out as part of the ship’s sea trials conducted by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) since last April.
This success marks an important stage in the tests of the Suffren with a view to its overall qualification by the DGA. Her delivery to the French Navy will take place by the end of 2020, before her admission to active service in 2021.
Prepared by teams from the DGA, the French Navy and the manufacturers MBDA and Naval Group, this test firing of the MdCN naval cruise missile is the latest milestone in a series of tests which has made it possible to verify the correct operation of the weapons and, more generally, of the combat system of the Suffren.
With a range of several hundred kilometers, the MdCN can attack and destroy infrastructure targets having a high strategic value. After the Multi-Mission Frigates (FREMM), the Suffren nuclear attack submarines are the first French submarines equipped with this conventional deep strike capability.
The ability to fire the MoNC from a submarine poses a constant and undetected threat of a strike from the sea against inland targets. It very significantly increases the penetration capability of French weapons in theaters of operations.
During her trials in the Mediterranean, Suffren also successfully carried out, off the DGA Missile Tests site based on the Île du Levant (Var), a test firing of an Exocet SM39-type anti-ship missile. She also carried out several test firings of the F21 heavy torpedo. This new-generation weapon is ultimately intended for all French Navy submarines.
The qualification of the entire Suffren weapons system paves the way for the end of sea trials and its overall qualification. This will allow her delivery to the French Navy for the verification of her military characteristics and then her admission to active service.