The Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) has awarded a contract to arms industry company DCNS for the upgrade of three of the French Navy's five La Fayette frigates (FLF).

The new deal is in line with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian's decision to launch this refit and upgrade programme, in addition to the construction of new intermediate-size frigates under the Frégate de Taille Intermédiare (FTI) initiative.

It will help to maintain a fleet of fifteen first-rank frigates in navy service during the transition phase, which will be required due to the arrival of the new FTI frigates. Delivery of the new vessels is currently scheduled to begin in 2023.

The La Fayette frigate refit project will commence in 2020, and will be conducted in Toulon during the vessels' scheduled technical shutdown period.

Delivery of the first of the three upgraded frigates is expected in 2021. The vessels will assist the navy in its prevention, protection and intervention missions.

The La Fayette frigates first entered service between 1996 and 2001, and are designed to help the navy during crisis management scenarios, as well as protecting France's interests worldwide

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The vessels' renovation will feature upgrades to both the platform and the combat system, along with refurbishment of the frigates' structure. 

"The vessels' renovation will feature upgrades to both the platform and the combat system, along with refurbishment of the frigates' structure."

It will also comprise the addition of electronic and computer systems to manage the new installations, such as propulsion mechanisms, steering gear and a power plant.

Additionally, the combat management system will be replaced by a version drawn from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

Tactical data links are set to be modernised, while the Crotale anti-aircraft defence system will be replaced by two upgraded SADRAL launchers.

The FLF will be retrofitted with an anti-submarine capability and be integrated with a hull-mounted sonar and various anti-torpedo countermeasures.

Image: The La Fayette (F-710) is the lead vessel of the French Navy’s La Fayette class of stealth frigates. Photo: courtesy of USN photo.