In December 2006, France’s Defense Ministry awarded a contract for nuclear-propelled fast attack submarines to state-owned warship builder DCN and nuclear energy group Areva-TA. The contract’s total value could be as high as EUR 8.6 billion, and it is set up as an initial EUR 1.0-1.4 billion contract (reports vary), followed by 6 options (tranches conditionnelles) to cover development expenses, the production of more submarines, and through-life support during their first years of operational service.
All ships wear out over time, and the repeated squeezing and relaxing experienced by submarine hulls make their replacement times less negotiable. The USA began introducing their new-generation NSSN Virginia Class fast attack boats in 2004, and Britain’s problem-plagued SSN Astute Class followed in 2010. Now, it’s France’s turn to renew its SSN fleet, as DCNS works to supply 6 Barracuda Class submarines between 2016-2027.