Tag Archives: Naval Group

Sea Trials

On February 22, 2022, Naval Group started the first sea trials of the FREMM DA ‘Lorraine’ (D657), an important step before the frigate’s delivery. For several days, the eighth FREMM to be delivered to the French Navy and second with enhanced air defence capabilities (FREMM DA), will undergo sea trials off the coast of Brittany.

Lorraine (D657)
Lorraine (D657), the 8th and final Aquitaine-class frigate, setting sails from the Naval Group shipyard in Lorient to start initial sea trials (Naval Group picture)

Ordered by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), on behalf of the French Procurement Agency (DGA) and the French Navy, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) is the eighth and last multi-mission frigate to be built for the French Navy. It is also the second FREMM with enhanced air defence capabilities (FREMM DA).

Two hundred and fifty people are mobilized to prepare this first sea trial. This session will enable the performance of the ship’s propulsion and navigation systems to be tested. Several campaigns will then be carried out to test all the systems. FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) will then be delivered by the end of the year.

«This first sea trial is a very important moment, especially as this is the last frigate of the FREMM series. This is the first time the ship has been at sea. This milestone also symbolizes three years of preliminary work with our teams and partners. Thanks to exchanges since the beginning of this program in 2005, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) carries the most recent and efficient technologies on board», said Didier Trehin, Naval Group’s on-board manager for this first campaign.

After being launched in November 2020, the first sea trial of the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) is taking place on schedule and in accordance with the company’s contractual commitment to deliver the ship in 2022. Naval Group’s teams and partners’ have been mobilized to meet this milestone despite the Covid crisis.

The FREMM program proceeds according to the schedule established by the last Military Planning Law (LPM). Seven FREMMs have already been delivered to the French Navy between 2012 and 2021. Aquitaine (D650) in 2012, Provence (D652) in 2015, Languedoc (D653) in 2016, Auvergne (D654) in April 2017, Bretagne (D655) in July 2018, Normandie (D651) in July 2019 and Alsace (D656) in April 2021. Internationally, the Mohammed VI (701) was delivered to Morocco in 2014 and the Tahya Misr (FFG-1001) delivrerd to Egypt in 2015.

 

FREMM benefited from the program’s feedback, from the start of the construction

With 3,500 hours at sea per year, the FREMMs’ level of availability at sea is unmatched and is an important source of information. The permanent dialogue between the navies, the DGA, the OCCAR, as well as the construction and maintenance teams, enables Naval Group to propose technologies adapted to the evolution of its customers’ operational needs.

As a result of this operational feedback, the FREMM DA Lorraine (D657) benefits from the deployment of new functions: enhanced cyber capabilities, deployment of Liaison 22 (link between NATO military units), reduced width mast, replacement of the optronic artillery fire control by a radar/optronic fire control, or the integration of a tactical table.

 

A polyvalent FREMM that has mobilized all the know-how of Naval Group and its industrial partners

Multi-mission frigates, designed and built by Naval Group, are polyvalent, stealthy and highly automated ships capable of responding to all types of air, sea, submarine or land threats.

The operational excellence of FREMMs is recognized worldwide, such as by the U.S. Navy, whose 6th Fleet has awarded the Hook’em Award to four FREMMs for their excellence in anti-submarine warfare two years in a row.

A multi-mission frigate represents four million hours of work, about half of which benefits the supply chain and local actors. The design, construction and maintenance of FREMMs mobilize two hundred and fifty unique skills, some of which are so specific that they require up to eleven years of training (carpenter-sheet metal worker, hull welder, boilermaker, etc.).

The frigate will be based in Toulon alongside the FREMM DA Alsace (D656) to provide air defence for major units such as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier or the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA), as part of a naval or amphibious strike group. The FREMMs with enhanced air capabilities, Alsace (D656) and Lorraine (D657), are thus able to carry out the same anti-submarine warfare missions as the other FREMMs in the series, in addition to their enhanced air capabilities.

The FREMM DA also use the most advanced weapons and equipment systems such as the Herakles multifunction radar supplied by Thales, the Aster 15 and 30 and Exocet MM 40 missiles, the MU 90 torpedoes and three additional Combat Management System Setis consoles in the «central operations». Like the other FREMMs, the Lorraine will carry the NH90 helicopter (Caiman Marine), whose use is supported by the SAMAHE system supplied by Naval Group.

 

Characteristics

Total length 466 feet/142 m
Width 65.6 feet/20 m
Displacement 6,000 tonnes
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Operation 123 persons (+ 14 people for the helicopter detachment)
Accommodation capacity 165 men and women
Cruising range at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h 6,000 nautical miles/6,905 miles/11,112 km

 

Deployment and Recovery

During industrial tests conducted in Toulon, the solution for rallying, recovering, maintaining and launching surface drones (LARS, Launch and recovery system) developed by Belgium Naval & Robotics, a Naval Group and ECA Group consortium, has demonstrated its relevance and reliability in real conditions.

rMCM (Replacement Mine Counter Measure)
Belgium Naval & Robotics (BNR) solution for lateral deployment and recovery of drones successfully tested

On Thursday, January, the 13th, 2022, a demonstration of the deployment and recovery operation of the fully remotely operated USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) and a presentation of the test results took place in the presence of the Royal Belgian and Dutch navies as part of the rMCM (Replacement Mine Counter Measure) program.

The cooperation between the two companies combines Naval Group’s ability to design a platform integrated system that enables the safe deployment and recovery of ECA Group’s USV INSPECTOR 125 surface drones.

Result of several years of engineering development, this innovative system deploys laterally on each side of the vessel. This innovation doubles the deployment and recovery capacity.

The industrial tests carried out off Toulon, mobilized up to thirty consortium employees and made it possible to test this innovative technical solution up to sea state 4/5, 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h of wind and by day and by night. The analysis and processing of the information collected will enable the solution to be finalized and production of the system to be launched in the second semester of 2022.

Deploying and retrieving robotic drones provides the dual strategic advantage of extending the action capability of ships equipped with the solution, but also of protecting personnel and ships. Thanks to the stand-off solution proposed by Belgium Naval & Robotics (detection, identification and neutralization of mines without human intervention in situ), the Belgian and Dutch naval forces will be able to rely on these drones for mine clearance operations while remaining at a safe distance.

The tests brought together for the first time four subsystems designed by the consortium and allowed them to be tested in real conditions on the VN Rebel, a specially chartered vessel:

  • the LARS (Launch and Recovery System): equipped with automated arms that equip the two sides of the ships, it works like an elevator, allowing the launching and recovery of the floating dock that hosts the drones;
  • the floating dock: a «cradle» for hosting surface drones (USV). This particularly innovative system makes it possible to limit the swing phenomena by working in a combined and automated way with the kinematics of the gantry combining guide arms, winches and a synchronized system of absorption. The floating dock allows to limit the overall efforts while guaranteeing overall stability. Once lifted on board, the dock allows maintenance and reconfiguration of the USV without having to move it;
  • the security system: allows the drones to be locked in the floating dock. A real asset, securing the drones in their dock limits the need to move them for reconfiguration and maintenance, thus simplifying operations while protecting personnel from the risks inherent in handling.
  • the drone: ECA Group’s USV INSPECTOR 125 allows the deployment and recovery of:
    • an A-18 underwater drone, carrying the UMISAS synthetic interferometric side scan sonar for mine detection;
    • a T-18 towed sonar, carrying the UMISAS synthetic interferometric side scan sonar for mine detection;
    • a SEASCAN underwater drone for mine identification;
    • a K-STER C underwater drone for mine neutralization;
    • an influence mine sweep integrating magnetic, electric and acoustic modules.

Eric Perrot, Director of the rMCM program for Naval Group, said: «We are delighted with the success of these tests of the new surface drone deployment and recovery systems. This performance is the result of the collaboration between multiple partners in this project, first and foremost ECA Group. We have great faith in this technology and we thank the Belgian and Dutch navies for their confidence in us».

Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group said: «Today’s demonstration shows the relevance of ECA Group’s drone deployment and recovery solution. It is a constant dialogue between the Naval Group and ECA Group teams that has allowed this great result of integration of our systems. We are fully committed to the success of this highly innovative program».

The twelve ships (MCMPF) ordered by the Belgian and Dutch navies will be equipped with twenty-four of this innovative and now, proven solution. The first of class rMCM was laid down by Naval Group in Concarneau the 30th of November 2021.

These mine countermeasures vessels, capable of withstanding underwater explosions and equipped with low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, will be delivered between 2024 and 2030 to Zeebrugge, Belgium. They will be the first dedicated drone carriers in naval history, equipped to operate a fully robotic drone system for mine detection, classification and neutralization.

For defence and intervention

On Thursday 16 December in Lorient, Naval Group laid the keel of the first defence and intervention frigate (FDI) Amiral Ronarc’h ordered by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) and destined to the French Navy. This step marks the beginning of the assembly of the ship in the construction hall. The frigate will be delivered in 2024. It is the first of a series of five ships to be delivered between 2024 and 2030.

Amiral Ronarc'h
Naval Group lays the keel of the first defence and intervention frigate (FDI)

On the same day, the Panoramic Sensors and Intelligence Module (PSIM), the integrated mast of the FDI, was also powered up. This important milestone symbolises the start of the testing of the frigate’s complete combat system, several months before its final integration on the ship.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to be here today to mark this major milestone in the industrial production of the first defence and intervention frigate for the French Navy. These multi-role, cyber-secure and scalable ships will ensure the superiority of information and engagement as well as the ability to last at sea of the naval forces that will operate them. Already chosen by Greece for its Navy, this ship will also enable Naval Group to develop its international outreach. We remain fully committed to empower the sovereignty of France and our partner countries».

 

Intense industrial activity at the Naval Group Lorient site: designer, builder and integrator of the ship

Five FDI frigates intended will be ordered by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) for the French Navy. This program reinforces the technological lead of the French naval industrial base, and of Naval Group in particular.

The first of the series will be named Amiral Ronarc’h, after a great admiral, Chief of Staff of the French Navy between 1919 and 1920, who distinguished himself during the First World War at the head of marines and sailors.

The FDI program will support employment in the shipbuilding industry throughout France and, more particularly, in Lorient and its Naval Group site.

Industrial key figures:

  • 100% digital conception – zero paper plans;
  • redundant and distributed IT architecture based on two data centres;
  • 1 million hours of production work for each unit of the series at Naval Group Lorient site;
  • 1 million hours of conception and development for the program;
  • more than 1,200 Naval Group staff working full time on the programme;
  • 400 subcontractors.

 

Many export opportunities

Naval Group is positioned on the segment of intermediary tonnage ships with Belh@rra, the name of the FDI frigate for export markets.

Following the signature on 28 September 2021 of a memorandum of understanding by the Greek Minister of Defence, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group and Eric Béranger, CEO of MBDA, negotiations are underway for the acquisition by Greece of three FDI HN frigates and one in option, all to be built in Lorient, as part of a strategic partnership between France and Greece.

 

An innovative, 100% digital and cyber-secure multi-role combat frigate

The FDI is a high sea vessel with a 4,500 tons class displacement. Multipurpose and resilient, she is capable of operating, alone or within a naval force. She offers capabilities for all types of warfare: anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and as well as for special forces projection. Bringing together the best of French naval technologies on a compact platform, the FDI is a powerful and innovative frigate, designed to meet the evolution of threats.

It is the first frigate to benefit from a digital architecture that will allow her continuous adaptation to technological and operational evolutions. As a result, the FDI will be able to address current and future threats and to handle always more data.

The FDI will be the first French frigate natively protected against cyber threats, with two data centres virtually accommodating a great part of the ship applications. The FDI introduces the concept of a dedicated system for asymmetric warfare. This system will enable the coordination and conduct of the fight against small and close air and surface threats, including booby trapped boats.

Strongly armed (Exocet MM40 B3C anti-surface missiles, Aster 15/30 anti-air missiles, MU90 antisubmarine torpedoes, artillery), the FDI is able to embark simultaneously a helicopter (10 tons class such as NH90) or the future Joint Light Helicopter and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (up to 700 kg/1543 lbs.). She can also receive a Special Forces detachment with their two commando boats. They are equipped with the new generation Seafire radar with four fixed panels, developed by Thales, which, combined with the missile delivery system, offers unmatched area defence capabilities.

 

Technical specifications

Displacement 4,500 tons class
Length 122 meters/400 feet
Beam 18 meters/59 feet
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Autonomy 45 days
Accommodation 125 + 28 passengers

 

rMCM program

On 30 November 2021, Naval Group has laid the keel for the first of the twelve mine countermeasure vessels of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program, intended for Belgium. The keel laying ceremony took place in Concarneau, in the presence of the Belgian Chief of Defence, Admiral Michel Hofman, and the Dutch Chief of Defence, General Onno Eichelsheim.

rMCM program
Naval Group lays the keel for the first mine countermeasure vessel of the Belgian-Dutch rMCM program

This program was awarded in 2019 to Belgium Naval & Robotics, the consortium formed by Naval Group and ECA Group, following an international competition. It provides for the supply to the Belgian Navy and the Royal Dutch Navy of twelve mine countermeasures vessels and around a hundred drones integrated inside a toolbox that will equip the vessels.

Kership, a joint venture between Naval Group and Piriou, is in charge of the production of the twelve vessels which are assembled in Concarneau. They will be armed afloat by Piriou. Naval Group, as overall architect and prime contractor, is responsible for the design of the ships, the overall integration, and the testing and commissioning of the mission system (combat system and mine countermeasures system). ECA Group, as co-contractor, is in charge of the unmanned drones’ system. Thedrones will be produced in ECA Group workshop (Ostend, Belgium). The maintenance of the ships will be carried out in Belgium in close collaboration between the Belgian Navy and Naval Group Belgium, with the assistance of its partner Flanders Ship Repair.

The first delivery is scheduled for the end of 2024 in Zeebrugge, Belgium. Deliveries will then be staggered until 2030.

Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group said: «We are very happy to be here in Concarneau to take this next step in the program with the keel laying of the first mine countermeasure vessel. This program is the result of European cooperation between Belgium and the Netherlands, in which Naval Group is proud to participate. It is also the result of a solid industrial partnership and of a commitment to competitiveness between Naval Group and ECA Group. Our teams will continue their hard work to deliver these latest generation ships, specialised in mine warfare and perfectly adapted to the operational use targeted by the Belgian and Dutch navies».

Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group said: «ECA Group is pleased to be present at this ceremony alongside its partner Naval Group. All ECA Group teams are mobilised for the success of this highly innovative program: it aims at an unprecedented level of automation of mine warfare operations, with the coordinated implementation of underwater, surface and aerial drones. In close collaboration with Naval Group teams, we are developing an integrated and optimised system to meet the requirements of our Belgian and Dutch customers».

«In the context of mine warfare, the idea of increasing the distance between the threat and the crews is not new», announced Admiral Hofman, Belgian Chief of Defence. «In the 2015 NATO Maritime Operations study, the main shortcomings of shipborne systems were slow operation, poor mine discrimination, inability to detect buried and drifting mines, self-defence and the ability of platforms to easily project globally. It was already clear that the existing conventional platforms could not meet all these challenges. Therefore, we were looking for a reliable partner to carry out this small revolution in mine warfare».

CPF BAM Claude Bultot, head of the program said: «The Belgian and Royal Netherlands Navy can be proud of this innovative and (r)evolutionary mine countermeasures replacement program. The ambition of this program is to become the world reference in this field».

His Dutch counterpart, Captain (E) Sander van Luik, added: «This project is a fine example for making European defence more efficient. By drawing a common set of requirements as a starting point, Belgium and the Netherlands are able to quickly put to sea an innovative concept. Agreeing on the principals first, avoids haggling over every single design detail. This also allows us to be more flexible and adaptive. Thus, our binational team has been able to work more effective, relying on both nations’ combined expertise, working with Belgium Naval & Robotics towards a new capacity that can meet the operational challenges of the decades ahead».

These specialised mine warfare vessels are the first to have the capability to embark and launch or fly a combination of surface drones (themselves 12-metre/39.4-foot, 20-tonne vessels), underwater drones and aerial drones. The mine countermeasures vessels will use a fully robotic system for detection, classification and neutralisation of mines. They can withstand underwater explosions and have very low acoustic, electrical and magnetic signatures, in line with the missions to be carried out.

These mine countermeasure vessels have the following characteristics:

  • Length: 82.6 m/271 feet
  • Width: 17 m/55.77 feet
  • Displacement: 2800 t
  • Maximum speed: 15.3 knots/17.6 mph/28.3 km/h
  • Range: >3,500 nautical miles/4,028 miles/6,482 km
  • Crew: 63 people
  • Drone capabilities: ECA Group’s UMISOFT System, 2 unmanned surface vehicles (ECA Group’s Inspector 125), 3 autonomous underwater vehicles (A-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 120 sonar), 2 towed sonars (T-18 equipped with ECA Group’s UMISAS 240 sonar), 2 Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (MIDS) systems (ECA Group’s Seascan et K-Ster C), 2 unmanned aerial vessels (UMS Skeldar’s V200), 1 ECA Group influence dredger integrating 5 CTM magnetic modules et 1 PATRIA acoustic module.
  • Embarkation capacity: 2 SOLAS rigid hull inflatable boats of 7 m/23 feet.
  • Handling: 2 side gantries with floating cradle for surface drones and commando boats, a 15t rear crane and a 3t overhead crane.

2nd Barracuda

At 7.14 a.m. on Friday, November 26, 2021, Naval Group CEO Pierre-Eric Pommellet began the transfer of the second Barracuda-class nuclear submarine – FS Duguay-Trouin (S636).

FS Duguay-Trouin (S636)
The transfer of the FS Duguay-Trouin (S636) submarine to the French fleet is scheduled for the end of next 2022

Mounted on twenty-four trolleys arranged in two parallel rows, the submarine, weighing approximately 4,500 tons, began to move at a speed of just under thirty meters per hour. Thus, the submarine Duguay-Trouin covered 120 meters separating the Laubeuf shipyard from the Cachin launching device. There was no big ceremony, as was the case in July 2019 with the transfer of the first submarine FS Suffren (S635) and the presence of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, this time. Nevertheless, many employees of the Naval Group and its subcontractors came to watch this ceremony of rolling out the submarine from the Laubeuf shipyard.

«The Duguay-Trouin rolled out less ceremoniously», agrees Jean-Luc France, director of the Naval Group in Cherbourg. «Nevertheless, this is an important event for the Naval Group team and its partners».

The first steel sheet of the Duguay-Trouin submarine was cut back in June 2009. In 2017, the Laubeuf shipyard began work on the integration of about 700 thousand pieces of equipment. The submarine hull was assembled by December 2020. «Together with TechnicAtome, we have just completed extensive testing of a nuclear facility», said Hervé Glandais, program director at Naval Group. The last phase of testing will continue at the Cachin facility.

The FS Duguay-Trouin (S636) attack-class nuclear-powered attack submarine is due to be delivered to the French Navy at the end of 2022.

The Barracuda class boat building program, Hervé Glandais noted, is the main one for the Naval Group. About 10,000 people and 800 enterprises are working on this program. In Cherbourg alone, 2,500 people work daily, including 800 partners and subcontractors.

In addition to FS Suffren (S635) and FS Duguay-Trouin (S636), the fleet will receive 4 Barracuda class nuclear submarines: FS De Grasse (S637), FS Tourville (S638), FS Rubis (S639) and FS Casabianca (S640). By 2026, the fleet will have four Barracuda-class submarines in service (one submarine every two years). The last boat in the series, Casabianca, will be delivered to the fleet in 2029.

Full digital radar

Thales Sea Fire, full digital radar is qualified by the DGA after exhaustive and thorough testing in Saint-Mandrier, the reference trial centre for the French naval forces. The radar is now handed over to Naval Group for integration into combat system on-board the FDI frigates.

Thales Sea Fire
Thales digital radar, Sea Fire, qualified and ready for integration on France’s future FDI frigates combat system

Over a period of 18 months, the Sea Fire radar underwent a substantial number of land-based tests, mobilising a vast panel of resources and combined teams from the DGA, Thales and Naval Group. All testing took place at the Shore Integration Facility (SIF) on the DGA’s SESDA site in Saint-Mandrier in the South of France – a major testing reference centre in Europe for the naval sector. Since 1969, this facility has been testing and qualifying ashore every combat system and critical sensors of major ships (frigates and aircraft carriers) in service within the French Navy.

Evaluated and tested against an extensive range of situations including surface targets (light boats, surface vessels…), air targets (helicopters, jets, missiles, drones, etc.) in various environments. – the Sea Fire assured its ground-breaking ability to search simultaneously for air and surface targets in a difficult environment, scanning a range of several hundred kilometres with 90° in elevation and an unmatched refresh rate.

Thanks to the Sea Fire’s unique full digital technology (for instance digital beamforming), the radar delivers enhanced performance for all missions through dynamic radar resource management with very short response time. This digital radar is at the forefront of technological innovation and benefits from all Thales’s Big Data and cybersecurity expertise.

In addition, through its advanced radar software, the digital nature of the Sea Fire made possible the implementation of a high fidelity digital twin. Compared to classical simulations, the digital twin of the Sea Fire truly reproduces the radars’ behaviour and performance. It supports radar development throughout the product life cycle from initial development to in-service support, operation and upgrades. The use of a digital twin played a key role in securing the development schedule of the Sea Fire despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Assembled in Limours, south of Paris, with the contribution of a network of French small and medium- sized companies, Sea Fire production started in May 2018 and the first FDI shipset was delivered in May 2021 (4 panels).

Patrol Vessel 87

The third of the four Offshore Patrol Vessel 87 (OPV 87) ordered to Naval Group by Argentina has been launched at Concarneau shipyard (Brittany).

ARA Storni (P-53)
Naval Group launches A.R.A. Storni (P-53), the third Argentine Offshore Patrol Vessel

After the recent delivery of A.R.A. Piedrabuena (P-52), the third OPV A.R.A. Storni (P-53) was launched on Monday May 10th. The ship, which was partly built in Lanester by Kership Lorient and assembled in Concarneau by Piriou Shipyards, was launched yesterday.

This delivery is part of the contract signed by Naval Group with Argentina in 2018 to provide four multi-mission offshore patrol vessels. A.R.A. Bouchard (P-51) (ex-L’Adroit) had been delivered in December 2019, two months ahead of schedule, and A.R.A. Piedrabuena (P-52), the first of the three newly-built patrol vessels, was delivered on April 13, 2021.

The third vessel of the series will offer the same assets and characteristics as the A.R.A. Piedrabuena (P-52). Better armed than the A.R.A. Bouchard (P-51), more motorized, equipped with an active stabilization system and a bow thruster, it is also «Ice proven», i.e., adapted to navigation in the cold waters of Antarctica.

Jean-Claude Flandrin, Program Director, said: «The program continues to progress at a very steady pace, with the delivery on time of a vessel every six months, despite the global sanitary situation. The delivery of the A.R.A. Storni (P-53) should take place in October this year, in line with the contract schedule».

«We are proud of the trust that the Argentine Navy has placed in Naval Group for the supply of these latest-generation multipurpose vessels that will enable the country to carry out its sovereign missions. Their timely delivery despite the sanitary context demonstrates the Group’s commitment to its Client», added Olivier Michel, Sales Director for Latin America.

 

OPV 87, an innovative vessel

The Argentinean Offshore Patrol Vessels benefit from innovations developed by Naval Group and sea proven by the French Navy, which has operated L’Adroit in several oceans for six years for multiple maritime security operations, either alone or in cooperation with other Navies:

  • Very high endurance and excellent sea-worthiness;
  • A 360° visibility from the bridge and a unique mast for a panoramic radar coverage;
  • The discrete and safe implementation in less than five minutes of fast crafts for Special Forces thanks to an ingenious ramp system at the bow of the patroller.

This range of ships also benefits from Naval Group’s expertise in information and command systems, allowing for extensive surveillance of the maritime space and the detection of suspicious behaviours. The A.R.A. Storni (P-53) is equipped with the Polaris system and NiDL tactical data link system, specifically developed by Naval Group for state missions at sea and sea-proven by the French Navy.

 

Technical features

The Offshore Patrol Vessel is able to stay on deep seas during more than three weeks, to reach a speed of 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h and to accommodate a helicopter. Implemented by a reduced crew of 40 members, it is also able to accommodate about twenty extra passengers.

 

Characteristics

Length 87 meters/285.4 feet
Beam 14 meters/45.9 feet
Displacement 1,650 tons
Maximum speed over 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Accommodation 59 (crew and passengers)
Endurance > 7,000 nautical miles/8,055 miles/12,964 km
Boarding capacity two light crafts of 9 meters/29.5 feet and one 10-ton class helicopter

 

Alsace

The 16th April 2021 in Toulon, in presence of the French Minister of the Armed forces Florence Parly, Naval Group delivered the FREMM DA Alsace (D656), in accordance with its schedule commitments and expected performances. Intended for the French navy, Alsace (D656) is the first of the two air defence frigates with enhanced air defence capability and the seventh FREMM multimissions frigate ordered by OCCAR for the French defence procurement agency (Direction générale de l’armement – DGA) for the French Navy.

Alsace (D656)
Naval Group delivers the FREMM DA frigate Alsace (D656)

FREMM DA Alsace (D656) is the first frigate with enhanced air defence capability. Her role will be the anti-aircraft defence of major units such as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, or that of PHA-type landing helicopter docks, within the framework of a naval air and amphibious group.

Despite the health crisis, the FREMM DA Alsace (D656) is being delivered on schedule by shifts from Naval Group and its industrial partners. Benefiting from the experience acquired on the FREMM already delivered, it also incorporates several capability upgrades in response to rapidly changing technologies (communications, cyber defense, etc.).

The main milestones of FREMM DA Alsace (D656):

  • February 2018: Key laying of the first block;
  • April 2019: Floating out of construction dock;
  • October 2020: First sea trial;
  • 16 April 2021: Delivery in Toulon.

 

An industrial success that mobilises the skills of the entire naval industry

The FREMM program mobilises many skills and hundreds different trades including architects, boilermakers, welders, mechanics, systems engineers, etc.

Like the other units of the FREMM series, Alsace (D656) represents around three million working hours from conception to delivery, half of these working hours are provided by Naval Group sites. In addition to Lorient where the frigate is designed and assembled, Toulon-Ollioules and Paris-Bagneux are also involved for the combat system, Nantes-Indret for the propulsion, Angoulême-Ruelle for the equipment, and Saint-Tropez for the underwater weapons.

The other half of the work hours is accounted for by Naval Group’s partners and subcontractors. Indeed, the FREMM program benefits from the best equipment on the market and calls on a large number of companies, including Thales, MBDA, Sagem, Jeumont, MTU, Oto Melara and Avio.

Alsace (D656) will be based in Toulon, where the teams of the Services Department will deploy all their industrial resources and skills to ensure the operational availability of this ship.

«We are very pleased to be here in Toulon for the delivery, on schedule despite the health crisis, of this first FREMM multimissions frigate with enhanced air defense capability. I would like to express Naval Group’s gratitude to our clients, who have placed their trust in us and are working with us on a daily basis to build these versatile frigates. Alsace (D656) has the same exceptional anti-submarine capabilities as the previous units of the FREMM series but with this new version, the French Navy will benefit from strengthened air defense capabilities, in accordance with the commitments of the military programming law», Pierre Eric Pommellet, chairman and CEO.

Alsace
First multimissions frigate with enhanced air defence capability

 

A ten frigates program

Since 2005, when OCCAR entrusted Naval Group the industrial production of the FREMM program for France, Naval Group has built nine ships, seven for the French Navy and two for the Royal Moroccan Navy and the Royal Egyptian Navy, respectively. The eighth and last FREMM DA for France is scheduled in 2022.

  • Aquitaine (D650): November 2012
  • Mohammed VI (701) for the Royal Moroccan Navy: 2014
  • Provence (D652): June 2015
  • ENS Tahya Misr (FFG-1001): for the Royal Egyptian Navy: 2015
  • Languedoc (D653): March 2016
  • Auvergne (D654): April 2017
  • Bretagne (D655): July 2018
  • Normandie (D651): July 2019
  • Lorraine (D657): 20221

 

FREMM DA Alsace (D656) uses the most advanced weapon systems and equipment

Heavily armed like all FREMM frigates, Alsace (D656) was designed to answer the operational requirements of the French Navy. She benefits from the continuous evolution intrinsic to the FREMM program to incorporate the latest technological developments and integrates the latest developments ordered by OCCAR, according to an unchanged delivery schedule.

The architecture of the first units of the FREMM series designed by Naval Group has been retained. What characterises the FREMM Alsace is her increased anti-air warfare capabilities.

The FREMM DA uses the most advanced 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. Like the other units of the FREMM series, she carries the NH90 helicopter (Caïman Marine), whose use is supported by the SAMAHE system supplied by Naval Group.

The performance of her combat system is strengthened with increased radar and communication capabilities, a new radar and electro-optical fire control system as well as Naval Group SETIS Combat Management System equipped with specific air defense functions.

 

FREMM DA Technical features

Overall length 142 metres/466 feet
Width 20 metres/65.6 feet
Displacement 6000 tons
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Accommodation capacity 165 peoples
Autonomy 6,000 NM/6,905 miles/11,112 km at 15 knots/17 mph/28 km/h

 

FREMM DA Weapons systems

All units of the FREMM series with enhanced air defence capability can deploy:

  • 8 anti-ships missiles Excocet MM40 Block 3;
  • 32 missiles Aster in vertical launch system Sylver;
  • 1 main naval-gun 76-mm;
  • 4 machine guns 12.7-mm;
  • 19 MU90 torpedo;
  • 1 Caïman naval warfare helicopter;
  • 2 Narwhal 20-mm remotely-operated naval weapon.
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Stimulus plan

The French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed an order to purchase eight additional H225Ms and a second VSR700 prototype. The H225Ms will be operated by the French Air and Space Force. The VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system being developed for the French Navy in partnership with Naval Group. This order is part of a Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020. For Airbus Helicopters, the plan also includes an order for two H145s for the Sécurité Civile and 10 H160s for the French Gendarmerie Nationale.

H225M
France orders H225Ms and VSR700 prototype in support of helicopter industry

«We are very thankful to the French government for their support of the aeronautical industry through the Stimulus plan. This is a win-win situation as the aircraft fulfill a real operational need for the French armed forces and this order allows Airbus Helicopters to secure jobs and key skills in the medium term», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «The French armed forces are facing increasing and varied challenges and I am confident that the H225M, thanks to its excellent range and multirole capacity, will be an efficient and reliable asset that will enhance their operations at home and abroad. The VSR700 is also a crucial programme. It will provide the French Navy with a highly capable autonomous platform and it will pave the way for future unmanned systems within the Airbus Helicopters portfolio».

Like the rest of the aeronautical industry, the helicopter industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 saw the worldwide market decrease by 50%. The support of the French government will help secure 960 jobs during the next three years for Airbus Helicopters and its suppliers.

These contracts will benefit the French helicopter industry as a whole, including other key French aerospace providers such as Safran Helicopters Engines with the H225M’s Makila 2A engines, Safran Power Units with the Saphir 20 auxiliary power unit, Safran Electronic Defense with the electro-optical system Euroflir 410M NG and the Sigma inertial navigation system, and Thales with the VUHF radio TRA6034 and IFF transponder TSC4000. But with more than 300 French Tier 1 suppliers involved in the H225M’s supply chain, the contract will also benefit a variety of small and medium enterprises. The VSR700 is based on the Cabri G2 light helicopter built by local SME Hélicoptères Guimbal.

First deliveries of the H225Ms are planned to start in 2024 and will fulfill the Air and Space Force’s operational needs and the long awaited replacement of the Puma fleet.

Thanks to a modular and versatile configuration allowing the integration of diverse equipment, the aircraft will be dedicated to a wide range of military missions including combat/search and rescue, medical evacuation, support to the population in times of crisis, and tactical training. While based in the Air and Space Force’s Cazaux base in Southwest France, the helicopters will be deployed across the country and will also support the French armed forces’ operations overseas.

With more than 104 helicopters in service and more than 143,000 flight hours accumulated to date, the H225M is a recognized combat-proven, versatile and reliable workhorse for military missions worldwide. Among the essential operational advantages offered by the 11-tonne helicopter is the in-flight refueling capacity, already tested by the French and Brazilian air forces.

Designed to operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) is being developed within the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme for the French Navy. The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight in 2020 and has recently begun expanding its flight envelope.

FDI frigates

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.

Frégate de Défense et d'Intervention (FDI)
The French Ministry of the Armed forces accelerates the FDI frigates program and supports Naval Group’s activity in Lorient

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.