In 2013, the Defense White Paper stipulated that, by 2030, 15 frigates would have to equip the Navy. This directly implies the arrival of a new frigate in the forces, the intermediate size frigate (FTI). The lead ship of this class has now been ordered, and should be delivered before 2023. This ambitious project is the result of the collaboration of the Directorate General of Armament, Naval Group, Thales and MBDA.
The Intermediate Frigate (FTI) will be stealthy with a smaller and lighter size than other frigates. It will still be 120 meters long and will displace 4,500 tonnes. The FTI will have a permanent crew of 120 people and be able to accommodate up to 150 passengers. Among them, she will probably embark commandos because the FTI has the capability to operate two ECUME Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB).
The vessel was also designed to operate an NH-90 NFH helicopter and well as a drone. According to Chief Engineer Grégory, who has worked extensively on this program, the Marine Aerial UAV System (SDAM) is a serious candidate, but may not be the only one.
An armed frigate to intervene on all fronts
According to the Armed Force Minister’s description, this vessel is "a jewel of technology." This frigate of the future is, in any case, an example of operational versatility because it will intervene against all kinds of threats, whether they are air, surface or underwater.
The great innovation of this of the FTI is in the equipment it aligns for the air defense mission. This will be the first French frigate to be equipped with a single mast in the middle of the hull, which will carry a SEA FIRE digital multi-function radar with fixed panels (other vessels are equipped with two masts with rotating radars). This new technology will provide the radar, and the other embarked sensors, with an unobstructed, 360° field of view.
To complete her anti-aircraft equipment, the FTI frigate will carry 16 Aster air-intersept missiles is vertical launchers on the forward beck. The peculiarity is that the SEA FIRE radar will combine the detection of the threat with the real-time update of the trajectory of the missiles after launch.
To engage surface threats, the FTI will be armed with 8 Exocet MM40 Block 3C missiles and 76mm guns. A small novelty compared to its bigger sisters is that the FTI frigate will be equipped with so-called "non-lethal" weapons. This is a new passive electronic warfare solution that, using light or sound stimuli, can deter attackers.
Finally, underwater operations will be conducted using two high-tech sonars: the CAPTAS-4-COMPACT towed sonar and KINGKLIP Mk2 hull-mounted sonar. They will detect the threat and unleash anti-torpedo decoys to deflect enemy attacks.
The frigate will also be able to respond to submarine assaults with MU90 torpedoes.