Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unveiling of the Multi-mission Frigate Aquitaine

Aquitaine, the first of 21 FREMM multi-mission frigates on order for the French and Italian navies, was publicly unveiled in Lorient.

LORIENT --- French President Nicolas Sarkozy today attended the "unveiling" of the frigate Aquitaine, the first of eleven new FREMM multi-mission frigates on order for the French Navy, at the DCNS shipyard here.

He was accompanied by Defense Minister Hervé Morin, Industry Minister Christian Estrosi, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud, the Delegate General for Armaments, Laurent Collet-Billon, and the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Pierre-Francois Forissier.

"Shipbuilding, both civil and military, is a strategic sector for our country. France has extensive know-how in this field that it will not let go,” Sarkozy said.

The FREMM program is Europe’s largest naval program, and is led by France in cooperation with Italy. It is managed by OCCAR, the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation . The program aims to renew the French Navy’s fleet of anti-submarine and anti-aircraft frigates.

The French part of the program consists of nine anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates and two anti-aircraft (FREDA) frigates, bringing to eleven the number of FREMMs ordered for the Navy. All these frigates will be named for French regions (Aquitaine, Normandy, Provence, Brittany, Auvergne, Languedoc, Alsace and Lorraine). Overall, the Franco-Italian program calls for delivery of 21 frigates to the two countries.

FREMM Multimission frigates will form the backbone of the French surface fleet for the long term. They are designed to operate in joint and combined operational theaters.

Displacing 6,000 tons and with a length of 142 m, the FREMM frigates can reach speeds of 27 knots, are crewed by 108 people, and are heavily armed with Exocet 40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles, Aster air-defense missiles and MU90 torpedoes.

The first nine frigates, designated ASM, will have enhanced capabilities for deep strike when the Future Naval Cruise Missile enters service in 2014.

The 2 FREDA are designed to protect a carrier battle group or an amphibious group against aircraft and missiles. All FREMMs will operate an NH90 helicopter, and carry special forces troops and their equipment.

Construction of the eleven FREMM will generate, up to 2022, very significant business turnover for DCNS (mainly at its site at Lorient, but also at its facilities at Brest and Cherbourg) and for many sub-contractors, mainly SMEs.

The build rate, selected according to the multiyear defense blueprint, combined with anticipated export orders, is expected to maintain DCNS’ industrial workload. “Today, I am visiting a company that has a full order book for the next four years. The FREMM program gives DCNS visibility for the next 10 years or more,” Sarkozy said. “Our goal is not to maintain employment at DCNS, but to increase it,” he added.

Regarding exports, one FREMM sold in Morocco is currently under construction [for delivery in 2013—Ed.]. Other countries such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Brazil are also potentially interested. The third frigate, "Normandy", ordered for the French Navy, will go into production in September.

Aquitaine will shortly move to its fitting-out dock, and is to be delivered to the Navy in 2012.

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