The SEA FIRE is the next generation radar developed by Thales that will be fitted aboard the FDI (Frégate de Defense et d’Intervention – Intervention and Defense Frigates), the future class of frigate on order for the French Navy. Steel cut for the first ship of class is expected to take place in late October 2019.
The combined team started testing a single array at the SIF in early September. A second array will be installed in 2020. The arrays are fitted on a full size mockup representative of the integrated mast (PSIM Panoramic Sensors and Intelligence Module ) of the future frigate. This mast was built at Naval Group’s Lorient shipyard and installed at the SIF in May this year. The first array was fitted on the mast in June.
The entire combat system of the FDI will eventually be tested at this facility, with an actual CIC of the future frigate and many actual sensors (such as electro optic ones) tracking actual ships, aircraft and other threats. Other sensors can be simulated, such as sonar data, in order to stress the combat management system which will be an evolution of Naval Group’s SETIS, the CMS already present aboard the FREMM frigates.
According to Pierrick Etiemble, deputy director of mission and combat systems at Naval Group, testing actual equipment (sensors, computers, software) similar to those that will be fitted on the future ships at this land based facility allows to:
- De-risk and streamline the combat system integration
- Check and validate the performance of the various equipment and of the combat system in a safe/controlled environment
The SEA FIRE is a multi function radar consisting in four non-rotating arrays (similar to the Lockheed Martin SPY-1 family of radars) and benefiting from the latest gallium nitride (GaN) high-power amplifier technology (similar to Raytheon SPY-6 family).
The SEA FIRE provides early warning of potential attacks from conventional and emerging air and surface threats using long-range 3D surveillance, horizon search, and surface surveillance. Its 360-degree coverage can track 800 objects simultaneously without saturation at a range of up to 500 kilometers in the air and 80 kilometers on the surface.
SEA FIRE features fully digital, software-controlled processing which is a game-changer for radar technology: It gives smaller vessels the performance of much larger ones and can be upgraded to meet client needs and new threats. Benefiting from Thales’ big data and cybersecurity expertise, SEA FIRE can automatically adapts to an incoming object’s characteristics.
SEA FIRE can provide fire control and uplink for ASTER familly of surface to air missiles, the datalink being integrated to the AESA antenna. Thales says its range and accuracy can support the full performance of current and future ASTER missiles. Plus, the high refresh rate allows the SEA FIRE to hold its grounds against emerging threats such as highly maneuvering and hyper-velocity projectiles or existing ones (such as ballistic missiles and UAVs).