Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Medium Sized Surface Warship: The French Solution

As a benchmark, the FREEDOM Class LCS displaces 3,500 metric tons.

As our next FF is going to simply be a modification of the LCS, it would be instructive to see what someone else with a blank slate and open mind would come up with to address the same fleet need.
The heavily armed frigates can be deployed in a wide range of missions such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-aircraft warfare, patrol, maritime security, control of exclusive economic zone (EEZ), asymmetric warfare, and special forces activities.
In the French case, what can you get if you just bump the displacement up by 20% to 4,200 metric tons, half the displacement of a Flight II Arleigh Burke DDG?
...as delivery of the first frigate is set for 2023. With a tonnage of 4,200 tonnes, the FTI will be implemented by a crew of 125 staff. For 2030, these 5 new first-line frigates will complement the French Navy's order of battle of the 8 multimission frigates (FREMM) and the 2 Horizon-type air defence frigates.
Here is the sexy part;
The FTI will be armed with a variety of anti-aircraft and anti-submarine armament to attack aircraft and submarines and their crew.

An Oto Melara 76mm or 127mm naval gun will be mounted in a gun turret located in the bow deck to fight against enemy aircraft, submarines, missiles and ground-based threats.

Defence against littoral and coastal land threats will be provided by eight Exocet MM40 Block 3 all-weather weapon systems, installed amidships.

The frigate will also be fitted with two eight-cell A-50 type Sylver vertical launch systems for Aster 15 surface-to-air missiles in the bow, two 20mm remotely-operated weapons at the rear, 2x2 deck-mounted torpedo tubes for MU90, and an anti-ship missile decoy launching system.
Propulsion for the multi-mission frigate will be provided by a 32MW combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system.

The mid-size frigate will have a maximum speed of 27kts and a range of 5,000nm at a speed of 15kt.
I don't see a lot of technology risk in this class. Looks like all the systems are evolutionary developments of proven designs. Price?
...a budget of €3.8 billion ($4.2 billion) has been set to build five of the ships for the French Navy.
It will be interesting to see two things; 1) Cost control. 2) How they could drop the price with economies of scale with exports. Imagine the cost if they were going to build 42 to 54 or so ...
The FTI has a modular design, and is thus capable of being scaled up or down to meet the different requirements of foreign navies.
As you may have guessed by the picture, there is one thing I am a bit skeptical about;
..features an unusual “inverted bow” intended to improve seakeeping in high sea states.
It is not as radical as DDG-1000, but we'll see how she does in the Bay of Biscay on a rough winter day.

On balance, looks like a well thought out program with few sketchy compromises that should serve France well. 

Good luck!

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