French MoD Awards DCNS the Development & Production Contract of FTI Mid-Size Frigate

Naval Industry News - France
French MoD Awards DCNS the FTI Mid-Size Frigate Development & Production Contract
The French Defence Ministry announced the attribution to DCNS of a contract for the development and construction of five FTI (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire or mid-size frigate) surface combatant intended for the French Navy. DCNS will propose a French version of its new BELH@RRA frigate which was unveiled at Euronaval 2016. The first of the five frigates from this DGA-managed programme should be delivered in 2023 with an entry into active duty in 2025.
French MoD Awards DCNS Development & Production Contract of FTI Mid-Size FrigateDCNS CEO Hervé Guillou at the unveiling of the FTI scale model during Euronaval 2016.
A next generation digital frigate for the French Navy
The new BELH@RRA frigate will be designed and developed by DCNS, in joint project management with Thales for the development of the new-generation radar it will be equipped with.

The initiation of the FTI programme will benefit the DCNS Group’s employment basins, the foremost of which being the DCNS Lorient site and its subcontracting partners: the design of the BELH@RRA frigates represents about two million hours of work for the DCNS design offices. For the entire DCNS Group, the construction of a BELH@RRA frigate represents on average two million hours of work, of which three hundred thousand hours for the design offices.

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of DCNS states that: “DCNS is proud to contribute, alongside Thales, to the renewal of the French naval forces thanks to a new vessel responding to the needs of a world-class navy. It is key component of our range of military vessels and the attribution of this contract also allows us to develop a frigate that addresses the expectations of a dynamic international market.”

A world-class frigate displacing 4,000 tonnes intended for anti-submarine warfare, the French version of the BELH@RRA is designed to respond to the various French national needs. It will be endowed with extended self-defence and special forces projection capacities. Last but not least, it will integrate the new Thales Sea Fire radar and will be equipped with Aster 30 surface to air missiles from MBDA.
French MoD Awards DCNS Development & Production Contract of FTI Mid-Size FrigateArtist impression of the FTI. Image: DCNS
The first frigate for “digital natives”
Developed for crews that will take the commands around 2020, the BELH@RRA frigates will benefit from the very latest digital technologies. They will, in particular, be equipped with a latest-generation combat system. This will bring greater rapidity for tactical analysis, decision taking and weapons deployment.

The integration of the latest digital technologies will ensure that the vessel will be able to evolve over a period of almost forty years. The information-processing systems will be modernised incrementally to be adapted to changes in the operational context, the emergence of future threats and the short renewal cycles for new technologies.

With the BELH@RRA frigate, DCNS intends to continue the success enjoyed by La Fayette-class frigates, a reference on the naval-defence market with over twenty units sold around the world. DCNS completes its product line by positioning this new frigate between the 6,000-tonne FREMM multi-mission frigate segment and that of the 2,500- to 3,000-tonne Gowind® corvettes.
Our exclusive video on FTI mid-size frigate recorded during its unveiling at Euronaval 2016 with interviews from the DGA, French Navy, DCNS, Lacroix and Thales.
Comments by Navy Recognition

The time line for the FTI programme is very tight: The first ship of the class is set to be delivered to the French Navy in 2023. Because of this tight schedule, the DGA has set up a collaborative work group. This work group brings together experts from the DGA, French Navy, DCNS and Thales with the most modern engineering tools at their disposal. The FTI will have a displacement of about 4200 tonnes with a crew of 125 sailors. It will be capable of anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare as well as the support of special forces missions.

The prime contractor is DCNS while Thales is set to supply a number of brand new, next-gen systems:
- The CAPTAS-4 Compact sonar
- The SEA FIRE radar
- Aquilon integrated naval communication system
- The SENTINEL electronic warfare system

Safran Electronics & Defense will supply a new electro-optical FCS, the PASEO XLR.

Provisional configuration (to be confirmed):

  • 76mm main gun
  • 2x Narhwal 20mm remote guns
  • 8x Exocet MM40 Blk III anti-ship missiles
  • 2x Sylver A70 launchers for 16x Aster 30 missiles
  • Space for 2x extra Sylver A70 launchers
  • MU90 torpedoes
  • Hangar for one NH90 helicopter and one UAV
French MoD Awards DCNS Development & Production Contract of FTI Mid-Size FrigateImage courtesy of DGA
Until the programme reaches critical design review, many things may still evolve and the FTI scale model we will see at Euronaval 2018 may look slightly different compared to the one unveiled last year as the design gets fine tuned. This is normal however: Our frequent readers may remember that we used to spot the design changes between the original Type 26 scale model and its later iterations.

The area around the bridge of the FTI may still evolve. Our understanding is that it looks the way it is right now mainly because of a requirement to fit a Narwhal remote weapon station just forward of the bridge (with another one on top of the helicopter hangar for 360° coverage).

We also learned that space provisions have already been set on and in the foredeck for future growth. While the French Navy FTI is shown with 16x A50 VLS (for MBDA Aster 30 SAM), there is a requirement to increase this number to a total of 32x VLS "if the need arises some time in the future". We could not learn the reason behind this requirement, however our wild guess is that it could have something to do with the Future Cruise and Anti-Ship Weapon (FCASW) (known as Future Missile Antinavire/Future Missile de Croisière in France). It is intended to replace the Exocet anti-ship missile in the far future (as well as the air launched SCALP/Storm Shadow) and it may well be vertically launched from surface vessels.

Last but not least, we learned during Euronaval (October 2016) that several systems were still being debated, one of these systems being the main naval gun systems. Full details at this link.
Our video on the CAPTAS-4 Compact sonar by Thales
Our video on the SEA FIRE radar by Thales

  • 76mm main gun
  • 2x20mm remote guns
  • 8 Exocet MM40
  • 2 Sylver A70 launchers for 16 Aster 30 missiles
  • Space for 2 extra Sylver A70 launchers
  • MU90 torpedoes
  • Hangar for one NH90 helicopter and one UAV
  • Sea Fire 4 planes radar
  • Captas 4 towed sonar