Installation of the Onshore Test Platform for Future FDI Frigate
(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry, issued June 04, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The base of the mast of the French Navy’s future FDI frigate lowered into position at DGA’s “ship ashore” test installation at St Mandrier, in SE France. The Thales Sea Fire electronic scanning radar will be added this summer. (DGA photo)
The Frégate de Defense et d’Intervention (defense and intervention frigate, FDI) program has just reached a new milestone with the installation of the first components of the on-shore evaluation platform for its sensors and combat system.

The base of the mast was delivered and installed on the DGA Naval Techniques’ site at Saint-Mandrier, near Toulon in south-eastern France, in mid-May. The package, measuring 8m x 8m x 7m and weighing 23 tonnes, was transported by ship from Lorient and Toulon, then landed at the port of Le Canier and transferred by truck.

This delicate operation was carried out in accordance with the forecasts thanks to a millimetric preparation and an excellent collaboration between all the actors involved (Naval Group, Defense Infrastructure Department of Toulon, Mediterranean Schools Pole and DGA Naval Techniques).

The next will be the next major steps will be the delivery of the mast and the first panel of the Thales Sea Fire flat antenna radar, scheduled for the summer. The "good functioning" tests will begin in the autumn, and radar tests will run throughout the year 2020.

The Air Defense Systems Experimentation Site (SESDA)

DGA Naval Techniques’ SESDA air-defense test installation is located on the Saint-Mandrier peninsula, in the Var district; it qualifies the combat systems of new naval ships before they are installed on board.

The principle is that of the "boat ashore". It is a question of reproducing the deck of a ship on which are installed real masts and sensors (radars, antennas, optronic systems) connected to the combat system. The spacing between the masts is identical to that of the masts on the ship. The electromagnetic compatibility of all these devices can be tested in real size and in a configuration similar to that aboard the ship.

The goal is to develop and test the combat system free from the constraints related to the availability of the ship on which the combat system is to be installed. The installation makes it possible to quickly and inexpensively carry out the wide range of tests necessary to identify and correct any malfunctions of the new systems before their installation on board a ship. The "ship ashore" solution combines flexibility of testing and verification of requirements.

To carry out these tests, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) requires the assistance of its own aircraft and ships as well as those of the armed forces, operating under specific scenarios in order to recreate an air-sea environment representative of the operational conditions, and so enable verification that the combat system requirements are met. These tests are conducted throughout the development process of the combat system, from the sensor integration phase to the qualification phase.

Since 1969, the majority of major naval programs have used the concept of the "ship ashore" for the development of their combat system: the air-defense frigates "Aconit" and "Cassard", the aircraft carrier "Charles-de-Gaulle", the Horizon and FREMM multi-mission frigates, and now the FDI defense and intervention frigates.

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