The French Navy has awarded a contract to naval defence company DCNS for the delivery of three additional FREMM (frégate Européen multimission) frigates taking the total order to 11 warships.

A company spokesman said two of the new warships will be designed for air defence and the third will be equipped for anti-submarine warfare.

Under the contract, the company will upgrade sensors for air, surface and undersea detection, and will provide operational support for the first few years of service.

A total of 17 ships worth €8.51bn were planned under the FREMM programme but the orders have since been cut to 11 due to financial pressure.

The first warship is expected to be delivered in 2012 and the last in 2022.

The French Government has suggested that the navy will operate a fleet of 18 first-rank frigates, including the FREMM, Horizon and Lafayette warships.