The first of two air-defence variant FREMM (frégate européenne multimissions) frigates for the French Navy is set for launch in the first half of 2019, according to shipbuilder Naval Group.
The ship, to be named Alsace , is now physically complete in Naval Group's assembly hall in Lorient on the west coast of France. This follows the weld of the bow section (ring 10) to hull ring 9 on 2 October.
Alsace and sister ship Lorraine are the last of eight Aquitaine-class FREMM frigates for the French Navy. While the first six vessels are optimised for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and can also fire the MBDA missile de croisière naval (MdCN) land-attack cruise missile, the last pair are being built to a modified FREDA (fregates de défense aériennes) configuration for force anti-air warfare (AAW).
Changes embodied in the FREDA design include an extended range variant of the Thales Herakles E/F-band multifunction radar, an additional SETIS multifunction console (for the AAW officer) in the ship's operations room, and the introduction of a Thales Nederland STIR EO MK 2 radar/electro-optical (EO) tracker (to be fitted above the bridge in place of the Safran VIGY MM EO director). Modifications to the Herakles radar comprise an uplift in below-decks transmitter modules, additional waveforms, and a new volume search surveillance mode.
The two FREDA frigates will retain the ASW sensor fit of the six earlier FREMM ships, which comprises the UMS 4110 CL hull-mounted sonar and CAPTAS-4 low frequency active/passive variable depth sonar. However, the pair will not be equipped to fire the MdCN cruise missile, lacking both the strike-length Sylver A70 vertical launcher system and the appropriate mission planning facilities.
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