Franco-Italian FREMM Multi-Role Frigate Project Formalized
DID has covered the roles of the various organizations active in European defense integration efforts, from the EDA (EU’s European Defense Agency) to the OCCAR (The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation). We also covered the multi-role Franco-Italian FREMM frigate program’s recent troubles and subsequent narrow escape.
Now OCCAR has awarded France’s DCN and Thales (Armaris) and Italy’s Fincanteri and Finmeccanica (Orizzonte Sistemi Navale) the first phase of contracts for developing and building the multi-role warships. MBDA will also be a major participant, as the FREMMs will mostly be equipped with its missiles. Up to 27 frigates are currently planned, making it one of Europe’s largest-ever warship programs; Armaris has also signaled a strong desire to sell the FREMM frigates abroad. With respect to this contract…
OCCAR’s initial phase contract covers the development, building and in-service support for the first 8 frigates destined for the French Navy: 6 in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) version, and 2 in a land-strike version. The contract, to be apportioned equally between Armaris shareholders DCN and Thales, is valued at EUR 3.5 billion (currently about $4.1 billion). The vessels will be delivered in stages from 2011 to 2015.
Under an inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding signed on November 15, 2005 by the French and Italian Ministries of Defense, Italy has also committed itself to order the development and building of its first 2 FREMM frigates no later than May 2006.
The French FREMM frigates will serve as front-line vessels with autonomous strike capabilities. They are intended to allow the French Navy to carry out a wide array of missions, including force projection and deep land strikes. The new French FREMM frigates will replace three older types of vessels: F67 Tourville Class frigates, F70 Georges Leygues Class frigates and Estienne d’Orves Class A69 Aviso frigates.
Smaller than the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke Class that forms the mainstay of the US Navy, the FREMM and its companion Horizon Class air defense frigates offer a series of dedicated configurations from this Franco-Italian partnership (Horizon Class air defense frigate, and related FREMM Class ASW(Anti-Submarine Warfare) or Land Strike) rather than having the full swing capabilities of the DDG 51 or Australia’s upcoming SEA 4000 Air Warfare Destroyer. On the other hand, they’re substantially cheaper at an equivalent value of around $510 million, vs. over $1 billion for a fully equipped DDG 51.
Corporate responsibilities among the major players have been carefully apportioned:
Under the contract, Armaris and its Italian partner Orizzonte Sistemi Navali will act as co-prime contractors for the FREMM program. The two consortium companies will also act as co-contractors for part of the design study and development phases. Many of the major sub-systems for the platform and of the combat system will also be specified and developed in common by the two companies.
DCN and Fincantieri will work together on the overall design of the frigates. After that stage, DCN will be responsible for the development and building of the French vessels, as well as providing operational support during their first years in service.
DCN and Thales will jointly develop the new-generation combat management system (CMS) which will be installed on all French frigates.
Thales will supply surveillance and communication solutions for the new ships, including communication systems, infrared surveillance systems, the Herakles radar for anti-air fire control, sonars, and the integrated electronic warfare system.
Key Partner: MBDA’s Role
The BAE-EADS-Finmeccanica joint venture MBDA will supply the FREMM’s missile system, and their press release characterized the FREMM program as being worth “several hundred million euros” to the firm. MBDA has proposed an open and modular weapon system architecture that will enable the integration of future weapon systems in line with potential customer requirements as they develop.
For the French FREMM, MBDA will supply its Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missile, an air defense system based around the Aster 15 missile, as well as SCALP Naval. The latter will be a vertically launched, land attack cruise missile system derived from the $1 million+ air-launched Storm Shadow stealth cruise missile.
The contract defines MBDA’s responsibilities, which cover integration studies, the development of the electronics for the missile launch systems, land and sea platform trials for all the MBDA supplied missile systems, and the A-70 vertical launcher and the electronic fire control system.
The A-70 launch system is derived from the Sylver family of launchers that currently comprises the A-43 and A-50 developed for the Aster 15 SAAM and Aster 15 & Aster 30 PAAMS naval air defence systems respectively. MBDA is the prime contractor, with French naval ship builder DCN expected to supply the launch module. The FREMM contract has additional significance to MBDA as it represents the first step in the development of a land attack capability based on a vertical launcher – something the Americans have long had for their Tomahawk TLAM cruise missiles. A-70 development will then be followed by the development of the SCALP Naval missile itself, expected to commence in 2006.
Additional Readings & Sources
The land attack version of FREMM would eventually be canceled, leaving the Sylver A70 and its accompanying Scalp Naval launch capabilities in limbo. In place of the land attack variant, however, an air defense variant would be fielded.
- See all DID coverage related to the FREMM program.
- GlobalSecurity.org – (FREMM) European Multi-Mission Frigate
- Wikipedia – FREMM Multipurpose frigate
- DCN – Batiments Surface: FREMM (in English). See also their more detailed Armaris FREMM Brochure [PDF format]
- DID (Oct 21/05) – The Italian Job: FREMM Frigate Program Saved
- DID (Oct 17/05) – Franco-Italian FREMM Frigate Program in Trouble, Again
- DID (March 15/05) – FREMM Frigate In Trouble?
- DID (March 14/05) – France, Italy Launch First Horizon Class Frigate. The Franco-Italian Horizon Class is a EUR 3 billion program; Britain withdrew in 1999 to pursue its Type 45 anti-air warfare destroyer, which benefits from some of the Horizon’s systems and development work.
- Navy Matters – Project Horizon: The Common New Generation Frigate. Offers a lot of background re: the Horizon air defense frigate program, whose technologies and design have shaped FREMM. This had been a tri-navy program, until Britain pulled out and developed the Type 45 Air Warfare Destroyer instead.