Bretagne and Normandie, the last two of the French Navy’s six Aquitaine-class FREMM (frégate européenne multi-mission) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates, have been equipped with extended-length vertical launchers to enable them to fire the MBDA Aster 30 area-defence missile, it has been revealed.
The decision, confirmed to Jane’s by the Direction générale de l'armement (DGA) and the French Navy, is regarded as risk mitigation given the gap opening up in the French Navy’s anti-air warfare (AAW) capability between the 2020 retirement of the Standard Missile-1 missile fitted to the F 70 AA airdefence frigates Cassard and Jean Bart , and the introduction of the FREDA (Fregates de Défense Aériennes) frigates Alsace and Lorraine in the period 2022–23. The FREDA ships are based on the FREMM design, but incorporate several modifications to give them a force-AAW capability.
The first four French Navy FREMM ASW frigates – Aquitaine , Provence , Languedoc , and Auvergne – have all entered service with two eight-cell SYLVER A43 vertical launcher systems and two eight-cell A70 vertical launchers. The SYLVER A43 is sized for the Aster 15-point defence missile, while the strike-length A70 is specifically designed to accommodate the MBDA Missile de Croisière Naval (MdCN) land-attack cruise missile.
It has now emerged that both Bretagne , delivered in July, and Normandie , currently fitted out at Naval Group’s Lorient yard ahead of sea trials and delivery in 2019, have received SYLVER A50 launchers in place of the SYLVER A43 launchers. The DGA has confirmed to Jane’s that this change, performed during build, will allow the ships to receive the Aster 30 missile if deemed necessary.
DGA officials said the introduction of the SYLVER A50 represents a prudent precaution, and incurred only a modest additional cost during build.
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