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FREMM European Multimission Frigate, France / Italy

Key Data

FREMM - European Multimission Frigate

The FREMM European multimission frigate is a joint programme between France and Italy. It will build 21 FREMM frigates for the French Navy and the Italian Navy. The frigates are 140m in overall length and 20m wide with displacement of 6,000t. The ship's complement is 108 officers and crew. The prime contractors for the FREMM programme are Armaris of France and Orizzonte Sistemi Navali of Italy.

Armaris was a joint subsidiary of DCN and Thales and is now wholly-owned by DCNS. The Italian Orizzonte Sistemi Navali is a joint venture between Fincantieri and Finmeccanica.

Both Amaris and Orizzonte will play major roles in the system specification and development of the main subsystems and the combat system.

In April 2007, DCN became DCNS. This followed an agreement where Thales became a 25% shareholder in the new company and DCN acquired the naval business of Thales France (excluding naval equipment).

Development and design features of the frigates

"The prime contractors for the FREMM programme are Armaris of France and Orizzonte Sistemi Navali of Italy."

In November 2005, the organisation conjointe de cooperation en matière d'armement (OCCAR) awarded French companies DCN and Thales and Italian companies Fincantieri and Finmeccanica the first FREMM development and build contracts.

The first contract covers the design build and support of the first six anti-submarine warfare frigates and two land attack frigates for the French Navy. Three more frigates were ordered by the French government in October 2009.

Deliveries were originally scheduled for a five-year period from 2011 to 2016. The first delivery was scheduled for 2011, the second delivery 13 months later, followed by a delivery rate of one ship every seven months. The first of class vessel is called the Aquitaine, the second Normandie.

Construction of Aquitaine began in March 2007 and was launched in April 2010. Aquitaine began sea trials in April 2011 and was delivered to the French Navy in November 2012.

The first steel was cut for Normandie in October 2009 and was officially launched on 18 October 2012.

DCNS commenced construction of the third vessel of the class, Provence, in December 2010. The frigate was launched in September 2013 and began sea trials in October 2014. Construction of the fourth frigate, Languedoc, started in September 2011 and launch took place in July 2014. Auvergne, the fifth of the class, was laid down in August 2012.

The Ministry of Defence of the Arab Republic of Egypt placed an order with DCNS for a FREMM frigate in February 2015. DCNS will deliver it to the Egyptian Navy in mid-2015.

In May 2006, OCCAR awarded the contract for the first two Italian FREMM frigates. Italy ordered a second batch of four submarines in February 2008, with designated three of these for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The last batch of two was ordered in April 2015.

The first Italian frigate was launched in July 2011 and delivered in May 2013. Deliveries are expected to be concluded in 2021. The first of the class is called Carlo Bergamini, the second is Virginio Fasan and third Carlo is Margottini. Virginio Fasan was launched in March 2012 and delivered in December 2013. The fourth ship, Carabiniere will be delivered in late-April 2015.

The fifth frigate, Alpino was launched in December 2014 and the sixth, Rizzo, will be launched in February 2016, while the seventh frigate is under construction. First steel was cut for the eighth FREMM frigate in February 2015 and the vessel is scheduled to be delivered in early 2019.

In October 2007, DCNS announced an agreement has been signed with the Royal Moroccan Navy for the supply of one FREMM frigate, the first export order for the vessel.

Construction of a FREMM frigate for Royal Moroccan Navy began in 2008. The frigate, named Mohammed VI, was launched in September 2011 and began sea trials in April 2013. It was delivered in January 2014..

The frigate's layout has been designed to provide sufficient size for operational effectiveness, maintainability and sustained upgrades. The layout incorporates increased headroom between decks, deeper and longer engine compartments and larger equipment pathways for access and maintenance.

For quayside maintenance, the frigate is fitted with an aft side door for loading and unloading equipment, load handling equipment and a wide lower deck passage way. The consoles on the integrated bridge are for all main platform functions, including navigation, steering and communications.

The bridge also allows operators to manage and control all platform systems, to monitor safety and security and to coordinate other operations.

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Italian FREMM frigate specifics

The Italian frigates will be armed with the SAAM Aster 15 missile system for air-defence capability and also Teseo Mk2 (export version: Otomat Mk2) sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, both supplied by MBDA.

"The frigates are 140m in overall length and 20m wide with displacement of 6,000t."

Teseo Mk2 uses command updated inertial guidance and has a range of up to 55km. Two DCNS Sylver A43 vertical launch systems will be fitted to each ship.

The frigates will be equipped with MBDA's Milas all-weather anti-submarine warfare weapon system. Milas, a derivative of Otomat Mk2, carries and releases a lightweight torpedo, such as an MU-90, close to the designated hostile submarine. The submarine's position is indicated by the ship's sonar or by other assets, such as an ASW helicopter or maritime patrol aircraft.

The vessel's sonar suite includes Thales Type 4110 hull-mounted sonar. The three anti-submarine warfare vessels will also be equipped with Thales Type 4929 active very-low-frequency towed array sonars.

The EMPAR G-band multifunction phased array radar from Selex Sistemi Integrati will be the fire control radar for the missile systems. The vessel's infra-red search and track (IRST) system is the Galileo Avionica SASS (silent acquisition surveillance system).

French FREMM frigate details

The French frigates are being built in two mission versions, the land attack (action vers la terre or AVT) version that will be fitted with torpedoes and vertically launched self-defence and cruise missiles and an anti-submarine warfare ASW version, fitted with torpedoes, vertical launch self-defence missiles and an active towed array sonar.

Sensors, command and control

"The frigates will be equipped with MBDA's Milas all-weather anti-submarine warfare weapon system."

Thales is responsible for the development and supply of the French FREMM surveillance and communications suites.

Systems will include Thales Artemis infra-red search-and-track (IRST) system and the Herakles 3D S-band multifunction surveillance and fire control radar for the frigates' anti-air weapons systems.

Artemis is based on medium-wave staring focal plane arrays and uses multiple static sensor heads rather than mechanical scanning. Herakles has a range of 250km against air targets and 80km against surface targets.

The upgradeable high-performance combat system by DCN and Thales is based on a high-speed data network. The combat system architecture will enable future weapon systems to be integrated into the frigates.

The ship's Nato standard external communications include Link 11, Link 16, Link 22 and JSAT tactical data links, allowing full interoperability with Nato forces.

Internal communications include messaging, conventional and wireless telephony, public address, closed circuit television and internet and intranet ports.

Missile variations and weaponry

For anti-ship capability, the French FREMMs are to be armed with MBDA's Exocet MM40 block three anti-ship missiles, which will be controlled via a CMS multifunction console by a Mer-Mer weapon control system. Block three missiles have longer range and an enhanced navigation system to give a littoral attack capability.

The MBDA Aster 15 air defence missile system for the AVT and ASW French frigates will provide protection against supersonic and subsonic threats. Aster 15 has a minimum range of 1.7km and a maximum range of 30km against subsonic airborne threats.

The MBDA Scalp Naval vertically launched cruise missile will provide the French AVT FREMM's land attack capability.

MBDA was awarded a contract for the first batch of 50 Scalp missiles for FREMM frigates in January 2007.

The Sylver A-70 vertical launcher was developed by DCN Ruelle. The missiles use inertial guidance and electro-optical terrain contour matching (TERCOM) in the terminal target approach phase of flight. Scalp Naval has a range of more than 1,000km.

The French FREMM's main gun is the Oto Melara medium calibre 76/62 Super Rapide naval gun. The gun interfaces to an optronic fire control system. The gun is controlled control either via a CMS multifunction console or through a visual weapons director on the bridge. Four 12.7mm machine guns are installed for close-in defence.

Torpedoes and countermeasures of the multimission frigates

The French vessels will be armed with the Eurotorp MU 90 Impact torpedo. MU 90 has a directed energy warhead and a range of 12,000m at maximum speed and 25,000m at minimum speed.

Thales is developing the integrated electronic warfare suite. Sagem was awarded a contract for the new-generation Dagaie system (NGDS) decoy system in January 2007.

Aircraft landing deck of the European vessels

The frigate has an aft helicopter hangar and a helicopter deck of approximately 520m². The frigate is fitted with an emergency communication and remote briefing system with the ship's helicopter. The French AVT frigates will be fitted for a tactical unmanned air vehicle (TUAV). The AVT FREMM will also have the capability to control long-endurance, medium and high-altitude (MALE and HALE) unmanned air vehicles launched from ground sites or from other platforms.

"MBDA was awarded a contract for the first batch of 50 Scalp missiles for FREMM frigates in January 2007."

Italian vessels will be fitted with the TC-ASIST helicopter handling system from Curtiss-Wright Controls of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Both the French and Italian frigates have gas turbines with two shafts driving fixed pitch propellers.

In March 2006, Avio of Italy was awarded the contract to supply the FREMM power plant for both countries, which will be the LM2500+G4 gas turbine, licensed-built from General Electric, which will provide 32MW of power.

The maximum speed is 27kt. For quiet anti-submarine operations the shafts are driven by electric motors and the frigate's speed in ASW silent mode is up to 15kt.

An azimuth thruster provides precision manoeuvring for quayside and harbour operations, station keeping and as a back-up emergency propulsion system.

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