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France upgrades La Fayette-class frigates

The DGA received the first upgraded FLF, Courbet, on 13 September. (Ministère des Armées)

Upgrade work on the first-of-class Frégate de type La Fayette (FLF) La Fayette-class frigate began on 4 October, the Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, announced on its website on 15 October.

Three of the French Navy's five FLFs are being upgraded: Courbet, La Fayette, and Aconit. The DGA received the first upgraded FLF frigate, Courbet, on 13 September after the ship completed sea trials. The trials took place in the Mediterranean beginning in mid-June after Courbet underwent a nine-month refit. The agency expects the third upgraded FLF, Aconit, to be delivered in 2023.

The EUR400 million (USD465 million) upgrade includes the installation of a KingKlip Mk 2 hull-mounted sonar to provide the three FLFs anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Workalso involves upgrading the frigates' combat systems and optronic surveillance capabilities, as well as reinforcing their structure and stability. The Crotale CN2 point defence missile system is being replaced by two reconditioned Sadral sextruple launchers armed with Mistral infrared-guided very-short-range surface-to-air missiles.

The DGA is responsible for site project management and Naval Group for industrial project management. Meanwhile, Chantiers de l'Atlantique is overhauling the frigates under the prime contractorship of the Service de Soutien de la Flotte (Fleet Support Service). The work is being conducted at France's naval base in Toulon.

The DGA reported that the trials with Courbet demonstrated the manoeuvrability of the frigate despite an increase in its displacement of over 80 tonnes, confirmed its continued low acoustic signature, and validated the improved performance of the new combat management system.

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