As Australia prepares for the digital revolution that will characterise the design and build phase of the future Hunter Class frigates, Naval Group has kicked off construction for its digitally designed Belharra Class frigate for the French Navy.
The steel-cutting ceremony of the first defence and intervention frigate (FDI) took place on the Naval Group site of Lorient.
The ceremony was led in the presence of the Minister for Armed Forces, Florence Parly; the head of the French Armament Directorate (Délégué général pour l’Armement, DGA), Joël Barre; the Chief of Staff of the French Navy Christophe Prazuck; the Chief of the Hellenic Navy Nikolaos Tsounis; many French officials and foreign delegations as well as Naval Group CEO Hervé Guillou.
The first of class will be delivered in 2023 and is part of a series of five vessels.
Sylvain Perrier, Naval Group director of the FDI program, said, “Today, after the successful completion of the initial studies and development phases, we are proud to reach this first industrial milestone. This ceremony is the first for this major program for which the DGA will be in charge of prime contract management to the benefit of the French Navy.”
The FDI is a high sea vessel with a 4,500-ton class displacement. Multipurpose and resilient, she is capable of operating, alone or within a naval force, through all of types of warfare: anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and allows for special forces projection.
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 and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). She can also receive a Special Forces detachment with their two commando boats.
The FDI will be the first French frigate designed from the onset to be protected against cyber threats, with a data centre accommodating a great part of the ship applications.
The FDI introduces the concept of a dedicated system for asymmetric threats warfare, distinct from the operation room. Located behind the bridge, it will lead asymmetrical warfare against air and surface threats such as mini-UAVs or tricked boats.
“Thanks to this program, Naval Group will also keep on developing its international exposure. This program will increase to 15 the number of first-rank frigates of the French Navy, as planned in the French military spending plan. We were able to uphold our commitment, thanks to the collaborative work model we adopted with our client and to the mobilisation of state and industrial actors,” Perrier explained.
Naval Group believes that the FDI combines the best of French technology in a compact platform. The vessel is a powerful and innovative frigate, designed for facing evolving threats.