The statement was made on the occasion of French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, visit to the Naval Group’s shipyard in Lorient for the completion of works for the sixth and last ASW FREMM frigate, the Normandie. The vessel was completed at a record time of 40 months, the fastest until now, and will soon be delivered to the French Navy.
Naval News attended the ceremony, which also celebrated the ongoing work for the two multi-mission frigates with anti-air defence capabilities (FREMM DA); namely Alsace and Lorraine that are expected to be delivered in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
Equally important is the FDI program, with the first unit scheduled for delivery in 2023. Talking about the FDI program, Parly said it will help maintain France’s operational superiority at sea.
I know that for Naval Group, developing and producing a new vessel of this size is a highly strategic issue. And I am pleased that the vessel’s architectural plans have been approved by Naval Group and the State. The beginning of construction of the ship and the first steel cut will take place as planned, in October 2019.
In April 2017, the French Defence Ministry awarded a contract to Naval Group for the construction of five FDI frigates for the French Navy. The first of class surface combatant is to be delivered in 2023. The FDI design features an inverted bow design with a length of 122 meters and a displacement of 4,250 tons.
Florence Parly also announced that the first SeaFire radar array has already been installed at the shore integration facility in Southern France, well ahead of schedule. Sea Fire is the new AESA phased array radar system designed by the Thales for the FDI. The first array was presented to the minister in April this year.
I place in you all my confidence to continue the realization of this ship on schedule. 2023, it is your horizon, that of the delivery of the first FDI to the Navy. I also count on you to define, in connection with the services of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the future standards of this FDI which will allow the integration of innovations in short loop. I’m always convinced that coming to Lorient means understanding Naval Group’s know-how, seeing the enthusiasm and quality of those who work there.
It is the proof of all your excellence, the mark of our gratitude. Your know-how is almost 100 years old: from the cruiser La Motte-Picquet in 1923 to the FREMM Alsace, 117 ships have been launched in Lorient.
Hervé Guillou, Naval Group’s CEO, mentioned during the event ongoing discussions with Greece for the potential procurement of Belharra (Naval Group’s product name for the FDI).
As Naval News reported already, Greece and France have been in discussions for the potential procurement of two frigates. Recently, on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show 2019, the Hellenic MoD procurement agency’s director, Rear Admiral (ret.) Kyriakos Kyriakidis, visited Naval Group’s headquarters to discuss details of the program.
Initially, the Hellenic Navy was allegedly interested in the FREMM frigates, but that interest has since then evolved into discussions for two Belharra-type units, in order to cover its area air-defence requirements.