The Suffren-class is designed to replace the Rubis-class in the French Navy (Marine Nationale). Naval Group is in charge of the construction of this submarines series, including the design and construction of the ship and information systems as well as the manufacturing of the main components of nuclear boiler rooms.
Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the ship’s architecture (2 500 people) and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) for the nuclear reactor.
Thales provides the entire sonar suite among other systems:
- MOAS (avoidance sonar)
- Sonar bays
- Interception antenna
- Satellite communication
- Electronic warfare / interceptor systems
- Radio communications
- Multi sensor monitoring
- Flank antennas
- Underwater phone
- Cylindrical antenna
Safran provides the optronic masts and navigation system:
- Serie 30 SOM (surveillance mast)
- Serie 30 AOM (attack mast)
- Serie 10 CSR (radar)
- SIGMA40 XP INS
The mats incorporate advanced image processing, and their sensors and treatments can be upgraded.
The Suffren: a technology and capacity leap
The Suffren is one of the stealthiest submarines over the world. This discretion, combined with its advanced detection capabilities, guarantees its acoustic superiority.
For the first time thanks to the Suffren-class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles (MdCN). The latest generation of SSN also allows the discreet deployment of special forces underwater, in particular thanks to its “divers hatch” and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter (DDS) allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles such as the new PSM3G swimmer delivery vehicle. Naval Group will build two DDS for the entire fleet. Fit checks for physical integration were already conducted last week with the Suffren.
More discreet, manoeuvrable and mobile, the Suffren has the latest generation of systems, including a centralized and more automated driving.
We are proud to have presented to the President of the French Republic the first submarine of the Barracuda-class, a symbol of our exceptional know-how and our ability to master the most advanced technologies and the most complex products. The construction of the Suffren is a collective success, the result of a strong cooperation with our long-standing partners: the French Navy and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), but also the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and all the manufacturers of the sector. Now, we are all focused on finalising the Suffren tests at the shipyard, with the start-up of the nuclear boiler room in the coming weeks, but also on producing the complete series. Maintaining our knowledge and adapting to new technologies are among our main priorities.”
Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group
“To successfully complete this extraordinary project, several thousand women and men worked together, driven by the same values of team spirit and technical excellence. Today, on the occasion of this exceptional ceremony, we are very proud to present our work, which is the result of the extraordinary diversity of our skills.”
Vincent Martinot-Lagarde, Director of the Barracuda program at Naval Group
Operational use of Barracuda
Barracuda nuclear attack submarines (SSN) like Suffren are a technological breakthrough enabling France to remain among the leading nations deploying modern and efficient SSN. Barracuda SSN will perform the current missions of nuclear attack submarines effectively:
- support to deterrence (protection of SSBN);
- control of air and maritime space (security of area);
- escort key ships (aircraft carriers);
- perform discreet intelligence gathering.
Barracuda SSN will also carry out new missions:
- sea-to-land warfare (precision deep strike);
- deployment and support of special forces.
Operational capabilities of Barracuda
The Barracuda class SSN will have a 70-day autonomy (compared to 45 currently) and will be able to carry 50% more weapons than its predecessors (including the naval cruise missile, the future F21 heavy-weight torpedo and the SM 39 anti-ship missile).
The Suffren-type SSN will be:
• more mobile thanks to its increased maximum silent speed and the reduced effects of hydrodynamic noise at high speed;
• more manoeuvrable with the X-shaped rudder of the steering gear assembly;
• stealthier with a higher maximum stealth speed, lower weight and consuming less energy with its steam/electric hybrid propulsion system, combining electric motors and propulsion turbines;
and feature cutting-edge systems:
• the most automated central control system ever implemented on a submarine;
• non-penetrating, all-optronic masts with high-definition daytime cameras, infra-red and light intensification cameras, which have replaced the traditional periscope.
Combat system: SYCOPS
As the submarine’s nerve centre, it concentrates all the control/command actions designed to implement sensors and deploy weapons in real time. It includes many subsystems (sonar, radar, navigation, weapons etc.) providing search and combat capabilities above and beneath the surface of the sea. It offers extended operational capabilities:
• underwater detection resulting from the modernisation of nuclear ballistic submarines;
• electronic navigation aid software;
• search optronic mast and non-penetrating optronic attack mast replacing
conventional (optical) periscopes;
• a weapons payload twice that of Rubis-class SSN;
• tactical data communications ensuring its interoperability and transmitted by an upgraded communications systems.
Both a prototype and first of series, the combat system is produced in three phases:
• design (sites of Toulon-Ollioules, Bagneux, Angoulême-Ruelle, Cherbourg and Saint-Tropez);
• functional integration at the Toulon Shore Integration Facilites;
• installation start-up and functional testing on board Suffren, first alongside, then at sea.
Barracuda nuclear reactor
The nuclear reactor transmits the energy of the core, via its Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS), to the turbo-generators and propulsion turbine, supplying the ship with electrical energy and enabling its propulsion.
The specific design of naval nuclear reactors is well suited to the propulsion of submarines:
• highly compact allowing their integration into a restricted environment;
• a high degree of nuclear safety meeting military use requirements;
• a very high level of radiological protection enabling the crew to live near the reactor.
The Barracuda-class submarines feature new generation innovations with an even greater reactor availability (10 years between refueling compared to 5 with the preceding Rubis-class), increased core energy capacity and expanded nuclear safety assurance.
The new nuclear boiler of the Barracuda, based on the K15 (onboard SSBN and the Aircraft Carrier) weights 400 tons and is very compact, allowing naval architect to design a very compact SSN.
Maintenance was taken into account right from the submarine design stage in order to limit the frequency and duration of maintenance:
• Mid-Cycle Docking (MCD) limited to 10 weeks per year;
• Full-Cycle Docking (FCD) around every 10 years.
The technical characteristics of the Suffren-class submarines
- Surface displacement: 4,700 tonnes
- Diving displacement: 5,300 tonnes
- Length: 99 metres
- Diameter: 8.8 metres
- Maximum depth: > 350 meters
- Armament: naval cruise missiles, F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernised Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles
- Hybrid propulsion: pressurised water reactor derived from the reactors on board the Triomphant-type SSBN and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, two propulsion turbines, two turbo generators and two electric motors
- Crew: 65 crew members + approx. 15 commandos
- Availability: > 270 days per year
Suffren is set to hit the water by the end of July 2019. It will start sea trials in the first quarter 2020. First around Cherbourg (where the first static diving will be conducted), then in Brest area (for deep diving tests) and finally in Toulon area (in the late summer/early fall of 2020) for tests of the weapon systems. Commissioning by the French Navy should take place in late 2020.