The Minister of Defence Unveils New Intermediate Sized Frigate Program at Euronaval
(Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued Oct 18, 2016)
(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
France has officially launched the FIT medium-size frigate program, of which it plans to buy five ships, and which also will serve as the basis for a new export design which DCNS will market for export as the Belharra digital frigate. (DCNS image)
PARIS --- During today’s official opening of the 25th Euronaval naval defence exhibition in Paris-Le Bourget, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian unveiled a scale model of the future mid-size frigates (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire, FTI) exhibited on the Ministry of Defense stand.

The launch of the FTI program was decided in mid-2015, when the current military planning law was updated at mid-point. The program’s schedule is ambitious, as the delivery of the lead ship is set for 2023.

First-rank frigates, the five new FTIs will join in the 2030s the eight FREMM multi-mission frigates and two Horizon-class air defense frigates. The French Navy will thus be able to deliver its required operational capabilities in a context of evolving threats. An FTI will be capable of being deployed alone or as part of a joint or combined force, such as the navy’s carrier battle group.

To design this new class of ship within the tight schedule, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has set up a collaborative platform. Provided with the latest engineering tools, this platform brings together experts from the DGA, the Navy and industry, mainly DCNS and Thales. Its effectiveness has already been proven, as the main design choices in terms of the program’s architecture and equipment were endorsed by the Ministry’s Investment Committee on October 5.

Displacing approximately 4,200 tonnes, and manned by 125 officers and ratings, including its naval aviation detachment, the FTI frigates will have capabilities in all fields of naval combat; anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-ship warfare, and the projection of special forces. It can accommodate a helicopter and / or a UAV. Its new-generation, electronically-scanned and fully-digital radar will have fixed panels integrated on a single mast. The FTI design is also characterized by a slightly inverted bow.

Versatile and enduring, the FTI will be the first all-digital vessel, and will offer technologically innovative, cutting-edge equipment.

The FTI has a modular design, and is thus capable of being scaled up or down to meet the different requirements of foreign navies.

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Thales High-Tech Systems On Board French Navy’s Future Medium-Size Frigates
(Source: Thales; issued Oct 18, 2016)
At Euronaval 2016, the French ministry of defence unveiled the FTI (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire) medium-size frigate programme for the French Navy. Working alongside DCNS, Thales has been selected to provide a number of latest-generation systems for the future frigates.

Key points:
--Working alongside DCNS, Thales is proposing a number of latest-generation systems for the French Navy's FTI (Frégate de Taille Intermédiaire) future medium-size frigate programme.
--Thales is to supply the compact version of its CAPTAS-4 towed-array sonar, the SEA FIRE multi-function radar, the Aquilon integrated naval communication system, and an ESM system for electronic warfare.

"With more than 50 years of experience providing high-tech equipment, systems and naval services to client navies around the world, Thales is proud to have been selected by the defence ministry to take part in the French Navy's future medium-size frigate programme," said Patrice Caine, Chairman & CEO, Thales.

Thales anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine and maritime security systems are widely recognised for their performance and are in service with more than 50 navies. Thales brings unparalleled expertise to client navies all over the world, and will be providing the following systems for the France's future FTI:

-- CAPTAS-4 compact sonar
Thales is launching a compact, modular version of the CAPTAS-4 towed array sonar currently in service on the FREMM multi-mission frigates. The compact version of CAPTAS-4 delivers the same very long-range detection performance with 20% lower weight and a footprint almost 50% smaller, bringing the FTI the most effective underwater detection capability available on the market.

-- SEA FIRE radar
Developed with the support of the French authorities, the SEA FIRE is a fully solid-state multi-function radar with a four-panel phrased array antenna. It meets the requirements of a broad range of missions, from ship self-defence to extended air defence, and can deploy ASTER missiles. The SEA FIRE is designed to perform in the complex conditions of the littoral or in heavily jammed environments to counter conventional, asymmetric or emerging air and surface threats. The new radar is suitable for all types of corvettes and frigates.

-- Aquilon integrated naval communication system
Thales is also supplying the Aquilon fully integrated naval communication system and an IFF system associated with the SEA FIRE radar. Aquilon is already in service with the French Navy and numerous other naval forces. Built around an IP architecture, it provides all shipboard and external communications and delivers secure connectivity services for frigate and crew, guaranteeing interoperability between all the actors taking part in the FTI's future missions.

-- ESM electronic warfare system
The new SENTINEL electronic warfare system from Thales is also built around the very latest technology. With a modular architecture, this all-digital system guarantees electromagnetic compatibility with modern shipboard systems and is capable of precisely identifying fast manoeuvring threats in the complex RF environments encountered in littoral waters.

As of 2016, Thales equipment and systems are in service with 53 navies on board more than 500 vessels.

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