French defense minister Florence Parly announced the award of a contract for the construction of the second and third FDI frigates for the French Navy during a visit to Naval Group’s Lorient site on March 29.
Announcing the contract, Parly said the construction of a Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) frigate keeps 1,200 workers employed for a full year.
The official confirmation for the two ships follows the signing of a framework contract in 2017. Naval Group is already working on delivering the first ship in the class, FS Amiral Ronarc’h, by 2024, a year later than initially planned.
The second and third ships are to be delivered by 2025, according to the French defense procurement agency DGA.
France is building five FDI frigates in accordance with the commitments of its 2019-2025 military programming law, which will see the navy operate 15 first-rank frigates. The FDIs will join eight FREMM- and two Horizon-class frigates already in service.
Naval Group touts the 4,500-ton FDI as a “digitized” frigate that will feature a cybersecurity management systems and benefit from digital production processes. The FDI will be the first French frigate natively protected against cyber threats, with a data center accommodating a great part of the ship applications. The FDI introduces the concept of a dedicated system for asymmetric threats warfare, distinct from the operation room. Located behind the bridge, it will lead asymmetrical warfare against air and surface threats such as mini-UAVs or tricked boats.
The frigates will be capable of anti-surface, anti-air, and anti-submarine warfare and will allow for the deployment of special forces with the capability to deploy two commando boats. In addition to Exocet MM40 B3C anti-surface missiles, a 16-cell vertical launch system (VLS) for Aster 15/30 anti-air missiles, MU90 antisubmarine torpedoes, and artillery, the FDI will also be able to embark simultaneously a helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
According to shipbuilder specifications, FDI will displace 4,500 tons, measure 122 meters in length and have a maximum speed of 27 knots. It will be crewed by 125 sailors, in addition to 28 passengers, and will have an autonomy of 45 days.
Update: The article previously incorrectly reported that the contract was for the fourth and fifth ships in the class.