ECA Group Completes Electric Propulsion Motor FAT for French Navy’s Fourth Barracuda-Class Submarine

ECA Group has completed the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) of the Electric Propulsion Motor (MEP) shipset for the French Navy’s fourth Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine, in late 2019.

The test was conducted alongside the prime contractor of the Barracuda submarine program, Naval Group and the French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement, “Directorate General of Armaments”).

According to the ECA Group, the FAT of the Electric Propulsion Motors was successfully passed.

“All the tests carried out have confirmed the expected performances have been reached, including the most sensitive one, related to the low level of acoustic signature required for the equipment”, the company said in a statement.

The shipset has been delivered to Naval Group in late December 2019 in order to be integrated into the motor device of the fourth Barracuda submarine, to be named “De Grasse”.

ECA Group is entrusted with the design and supply of energy conversion and propulsion systems in support of the Barracuda Submarine Program. In October 2018, ECA Group was awarded additional contracts for the fifth and sixth Barracuda submarines (to be named “Rubis” and “Casabianca”).

Barracuda-class (or Suffren-class) SSN/SNA

The Barracuda-class (or Suffren-class) is a class of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs; French: Sous-marins nucléaires d’attaque, SNA), designed by the French shipbuilder Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS) for the French Navy (Marine Nationale).

The new submarines will replace the French Navy’s current generation of Rubis/Améthyste-class nuclear attack submarines.

Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the submarine program and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. DGA is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, CEA) for the nuclear reactor.

Barracuda SSNs will use technologies from the French Navy’s currently operational Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), including pump-jet propulsion.

The submarines will have a length of 99 meters, a diameter of 8.8 meters, a surfaced displacement of 4,700 tonnes and an underwater displacement of 5,300 tonnes.

The boats will be powered by a 50MW K15 pressurized water reactor (PWR) derived from the reactors on board the Triomphant-class SSBNs and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier. They will have two propulsion turbines, two turbo generators and two electric motors driving a single ducted propeller (pump-jet).

The SSNs will have a maximum speed of about 25 knots and a maximum diving depth of more than 350 m.

The Barracuda-class submarines will be armed with torpedo-tube-launched cruise missiles, MdCN (Missile de Croisière Naval, Naval Cruise Missile). MdCN is the sea-launched variant of the SCALP EG low-observable air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) developed by MBDA Missile Systems. The missile has an operational range of over 1,000 km (620 mi) and can be fired against strategic land targets.

The submarines will be also armed with F21 Artemis heavyweight torpedoes, Exocet SM39 Block2 anti-ship missiles and FG29 mines.

Barracudas will have a crew complement of 65. In support of special operations missions, they may also accommodate up to 12 commandos, while carrying their equipment in a dry deck shelter attached aft of the sail. The dry deck shelter will also allow the deployment of underwater vehicles.

The primary missions of the Barracuda-class vessels will include anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare (ASuW, ASW), land attack, intelligence gathering, crisis management, and special operations missions.

The French Navy plans to have six SNA Barracuda in service by 2030 and the first four is scheduled to be delivered over the period of 2020-2025.

The first vessel of the class, SNA Suffren was launched in a ceremony at Naval Group’s facility in Cherbourg, France on July 12, 2019. Late last year, TechnicAtome and Naval Group performed the divergence of the nuclear reactor onboard the submarine.

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