Naval Group lays keel for French Navy’s first FDI frigate

On 16 December in Lorient, French defense firm Naval Group laid the keel for the first defense and intervention (FDI) frigate ordered by the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) for the French Navy. 

As disclosed, this step marks the beginning of the assembly of the ship in the construction hall. On the same day, the panoramic sensors and intelligence module (PSIM), the integrated mast of the FDI, was also powered up. This important milestone symbolizes the start of the testing of the frigate’s complete combat system, several months before its final integration on the ship. The company also revealed that five FDI frigates will be ordered by DGA for the French Navy.

Photo by: Naval Group

The first of the series will be named Amiral Ronarc’h, after the Chief of Staff of the French Navy who served between 1919 and 1920.

The FDI is a high sea vessel with 4,500 tonnes of displacement. Multipurpose and resilient, it is capable of operating, alone or within a naval force. The vessel offers capabilities for all types of warfare: anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine as well as for special forces projection.

Furthermore, it is the first frigate to benefit from a digital architecture that will allow its continuous adaptation to technological and operational evolutions. As a result, the FDI will be able to address current and future threats and to handle more data in the future, according to the company.

Technical specifications:

  • length: 122 meters;
  • beam: 18 meters;
  • max. speed: 27 knots;
  • autonomy: 45 days;
  • accommodation: 125 + 28 passengers.

The FDI will be the first French frigate natively protected against cyber threats, with two data centers virtually accommodating 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, Naval Group noted.

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 700kg). In addition to this, it can also receive a Special Forces detachment with its two commando boats.

The vessel is equipped with the next-generation Seafire radar with four fixed panels, developed by French company Thales, which, combined with the missile delivery system, offers unmatched area defense capabilities.

“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,” Pierre Eric Pommellet, CEO of Naval Group, said.

In September this year, Naval Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Greek government to open negotiations for the supply of up to four FDI frigates (Belharra-class).

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