French navy’s new frigate: A deadly combination of stealth and air defence

On 22 November French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly announced that the French Navy’s first air defence FREMM frigate, Alsace, is ready for operations.

The FREMM Frigate “Alsace” was delivered to the French Navy during a ceremony at Toulon naval base in presence of the French Minister of the Armed forces Florence Parly on April 16. “The multi-mission frigate Alsace is ready for operations. It belongs to a class of frigates recognized worldwide for its combat capabilities” said Parly on Twitter.

The French Navy is currently one of the most powerful in Europe. In order to continuously improve its combat capabilities, the French Navy has also successively equipped many advanced main battle ships in recent years. For example, the FREMM DA-class guided-missile frigate “Alsace” with hull number D656 began to be officially equipped with the French navy’s surface warship combat force on November 22 this year. This guided-missile frigate is also the first air defence FREMM DA variant owned by the French Navy. Its official deployment also represents that the French Navy’s actual combat capability will rise to a better level.

 FREMM DA frigate Alsace
FREMM DA frigate Alsace

The FREMM DA-class guided-missile frigate is actually an improved air defense version of the previous FREMM-class frigate, and it is also produced by the French Navy Group. Compared with the FREMM-class frigate that paid more attention to anti-submarine operations before, the FREMM DA-class guided-missile frigate has focused on strengthening its air defense capabilities. After all, for the French only nuclear-powered medium-sized aircraft carrier the “Charles de Gaulle” equipped with carrier fighter “Rafale” M and other surface warships previously equipped, only two “Horizon”-class frigates have strong air defense capabilities. Therefore, in fact, the overall air defense capabilities of the French Navy is not strong. For this reason, the French Navy still needs to have a larger number of air defense surface combatants to make up for this shortcoming in its combat power, and this is the main reason for the FREMM DA-class guided-missile frigate now.

In terms of the main performance of the FREMM DA class guided missile frigate, its length is 142 meters, the width is 20 meters, and the displacement is 6000 tons. It adopts the CODLOG power system, is equipped with MTU4000 series diesel generator sets, and has a maximum speed of 27 knots. With a maximum range of 6000 nautical miles at a speed of 15 knots, the number of personnel on the conventional ship is 119. 

VLS and auto canon of Alsace
VLS and auto canon of Alsace

The FREMM DA-class guided missile frigate is equipped with one “Alto” 76mm naval gun, three “narwhal” remote control weapon stations using 20mm automatic guns, eight Exocet Block3/3C anti-ship missiles, one The set has 32 VLS, which can be used to launch the “Aster-15” medium and short-range air defense missiles and the “Aster-30” medium and long-range air defense missiles “Silva” A50 carrier-based missile vertical launch system and two for launching The MU90 anti-submarine torpedo’s B-515 torpedo launcher includes the weapon system and can carry one helicopter. The FREMM DA-class missile The entire frigate uses a very good low detectability design, so it has better stealth capabilities.

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In order to further enhance its own air defense capabilities, the French Navy’s FREMM DA-class guided missile frigate is also equipped with a Herakles multi-function radar, with a detection range of up to 300 kilometers and 80 kilometers for air and sea respectively. Ship equipped with Thales STIR EO MK2 fire control radar, which can be used to improve the air defense and for close target and surface target ship is equipped with “Alto” 76mm naval gun. At the same time, the CIC center on the ship has also increased up to 20 consoles, and the specific layout of the CIC center of the FREMM DA-class guided missile frigate optimized to strengthen the air defense capabilities.

In addition, the FREMM DA-class The guided missile frigate is also equipped with a SETI combat management system that improves air defense capabilities. The use of these equipment has also further strengthened and guaranteed the FREMM DA-class guided missile frigate’s air defense combat capability.

Fremm DA-class guided missile frigate of the French Navy
Fremm DA-class guided missile frigate of the French Navy and the “Northwest Wind”-class amphibious assault ship in a coordinated exercise 

In the future, the French Navy’s FREMM DA-class guided missile frigate will mainly be integrated into the carrier battle group with the “De Gaulle” nuclear-powered medium-sized aircraft carrier as the core or the amphibious battle group with the “Northwest Wind” amphibious assault ship as the core to take on these maritime battle groups. The important task of the ship will be to provide air defence to the carrier strike group. In addition to the “Alsace” now equipped with the French Navy, the second FREMM DA-class guided-missile frigate “Lorraine” is also planned to be officially equipped with the French Navy’s surface warship combat force in 2022. At that time, the air defense capabilities of both the French Navy and its fleets will be further enhanced.

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