France to build fifth nuclear Barracuda-class submarine

French defense minister Florence Parly announced on May 4 that another Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine was ordered for the French Navy.

2013 photo of Barracuda-class submarine Suffren under construction in Cherbourg, France. Photo: French defense ministry

According to a defense ministry statement, the decision to order the fifth boat in the class was made during a defense ministry meeting on May 2.

The new generation nuclear submarines are built by Naval Group under a framework contract signed with the French defense procurement agency (DGA) in December 2006.

France’s 2019-2025 White Paper includes the construction of a total of six submarines in the class: Suffren, Duguay-Trouin, Tourville, Dupetit-Thouars, Duquesne and De Grasse.

Suffren, the lead boat in the class, was initially expected to be delivered to the navy in 2017 but current predictions say the submarine will be delivered in 2020, some three years late.

Barracuda-type SSNs will replace the six Rubis-class boats currently in service. The Barracuda weapons payload will include next-generation type F21 heavyweight torpedoes, SM39 anti-ship missiles and MdCN-type naval cruise missiles. The boats will also be fully equipped for missions with NATO naval forces and special operations.

In addition to funding the procurement of another Barracuda-class submarine, the defense ministry announced the launch of the development phase of the Tiger Mk III attack helicopter modernization program which will ensure the Tiger weapons system operational capability beyond 2040.