Naval Group has cut steel for the French Navy’s first defence and intervention frigate (FDI) during a ceremony at its facility in Lorient.

The steel-cutting ceremony marks the start of construction on the first FDI frigate for the French Navy.

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Naval Group will build five FDI 122m-long multi-purpose ships under the programme. The first ship is expected to be delivered in 2023.

With a displacement of 4,500t, the high sea vessel can operate independently or as part of a naval force.

The frigate can be used to support anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare.

Naval Group FDI programme director Sylvain Perrier 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 programme for which the DGA will be in charge of prime contract management to the benefit of the French Navy.

“Thanks to this programme, Naval Group will also keep on developing its international exposure. This programme will increase to fifteen the number of first-rank frigates of the French Navy, as planned in the French military spending plan (LPM). 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.”

The FDI will be equipped with weapons, including Aster 15/30 anti-air missiles, Exocet MM40 B3C anti-surface missiles, MU90 antisubmarine torpedoes, and artillery.

The vessel can accommodate a helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

It will have protection against cyber threats and a data centre for ship applications.

The FDI will also feature a dedicated system behind the bridge for asymmetric warfare against air and surface threats.

The DGA placed the order for the five frigates in April 2017. Naval Group will use the experience in the FREMM programme to design and build the FDI.

The company aims to ensure a 100% digital conception in the FDI project.