The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has taken delivery of the third Mistral-class projection and command (BPC) ship, Dixmude, three months ahead of the initial contract schedule.

The delivery follows the DGA order for the BPC Dixmude vessel in April 2009 as part of an economic stimulus package. The vessel was developed at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire in cooperation with DCNS. The keel was laid in January 2010 and launched in late 2010, with commissioning scheduled to take place later in 2012.

The 199m-long BPC Dixmude has a displacement capacity of 21,500t, can cruise at a speed of 19 knots and can accommodate 450 troops and 16 heavy helicopters, including options for one or more landing craft and armoured vehicles. The Dixmude Mistral-class ship is designed to replace the navy’s Foudre landing craft transport vessel and will be used as a training ship for the French Navy’s Jeanne d’Arc mission in 2012.

The frigate, equipped with a high-performance communications suite, 3D surveillance radar and a Senit 9 combat management system (CMS), also supports large-scale humanitarian missions. STX France constructed the hull and installed shipboard equipment while co-contractor, whereas DCNS integrated and tested the combat system, including communication and navigation elements.

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BPC Dixmude successfully completed sea trials to validate its combat capability in July 2011. The French Navy received the first two Mistral-class force projection and command vessels, BPC Mistral and BPC Tonnerre, in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

The Mistral and Tonnerre replaced the L9021 Ouragan and L9022 Orage, which were built at Brest Naval Dockyard and entered service in 1965 and 1968 respectively.