iXblue delivered the cybersecure navigation system for the first Defense and Intervention Frigate (FDI) being built for the French Navy.
The navigation system was delivered to Naval Group, in the presence of Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces, on Sept. 4. Naval Group is building the vessel for the French Navy under the project management of the French General Directorate of Armament (DGA).
This is the first delivery of the contract signed between iXblue and Naval Group in 2017, which calls for the acquisition of Marins inertial navigation systems and Netans data distribution & processing units to equip the five new-generation frigates.
“It is the first time that iXblue systems have been chosen by Naval Group to equip a new-built major combat vessel for the French Navy,” explains Fabien Napolitano, CEO of iXblue. “We are extremely proud to be part of this major program to renew the French naval forces. This choice underlines the robustness and reliability of iXblue systems, and in particular their ability to respond to cyber security threats in environments where GNSS is inoperable. »
Olivier de la Bourdonnaye, Naval Group Program Director, also said: “We are very pleased to have iXblue among our partners for this “all-digital” frigate program, the new generation frigates for the French Navy. We know we can count on their cutting-edge expertise in the field of navigational calculations and cyber security to equip defense and intervention frigates with the best possible systems, meeting the needs of the French General Directorate of Armament (DGA). »
Based on the iXblue Fiber-Optic Gyroscope technology, the Marins units are very high performance inertial navigation systems, meeting the military requirements of the most modern combat ships. They provide highly accurate position, heading, roll, pitch and speed information regardless of the environment and even when GNSS signals are inaccessible. At the heart of the navigation system, the Netans data distribution & processing unit interfaces directly with the ship’s sensors, acquiring, analyzing, correlating and then distributing data to all onboard systems. As a result, the Netans range provides reliable, consistent and accurate navigation information in the most difficult operational environments, while also addressing cyber security challenges.
iXblue navigation systems, which have become references in the naval defense market, already equip more than 40 navies and coastguards worldwide, as well as 70% of the French Navy’s ships. iXblue also equips the entire French fleet with navigation software (SENIN).
French Navy FDI Frigates
The FDI (Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention, Defence and Intervention Frigate) frigates, also called as FTI (Frégates de Taille Intermédiaire, Intermediate-sized frigates), is a new class of frigates being built for the French Navy by Naval Group.
Five new FDI ships will replace the Navy’s five La Fayette-class frigates ship for ship and complement the eight slightly larger Aquitaine-class FREMM frigates. The first vessel of the class will be delivered in 2023.
With their all-new design, FDI multi-mission frigates will be approximately 122 meters long, 18 meters wide and have a displacement of 4,500 metric tons.
The FDI vessels will be powered by four Rolls-Royce MTU 16V 8000 M91L engines forming a combined diesel-and-diesel (CODAD) propulsion system, with two diesel engines connected to each of the ship’s dual prop shafts. The engines will produce a total power output of 32 MW, propelling the frigates up to speeds of 27 knots. The vessels will have a range of up to 5,000 nautical miles and an endurance of 45 days.
The frigates will be armed with Exocet MM40 B3C anti-surface missiles, Aster 15/30 anti-air missiles, MU90 anti-submarine torpedoes, and an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun.
The vessels are able to embark simultaneously a helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV), and can also receive a Special Forces detachment with their two commando boats. They have a crew complement of 125 and can accommodate 28 passengers.
The FDI vessels are capable of operating, alone or within a naval force. The vessels’ modular design will ensure they are able to assume a wide variety of roles, including anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and special forces projection.
The French defense procurement agency, DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) ordered five FDI frigates in April 2017 for the French Navy.
Naval Group started the construction of the first FDI frigate, the future FS Amiral Ronarc’h, with a steel-cutting ceremony at its Lorient facility on Oct. 24, 2019.
Amiral Ronarc’h is scheduled to enter the French Navy service in 2023. All five new frigates – Amiral Ronarc’h, Amiral Louzeau, Amiral Castex, Amiral Nomy, and Amiral Cabanier – are due to enter service by 2030, joining the eight Aquitaine-class FREMM frigates to form the backbone of the French Navy.
The export version of the FDI/FTI frigate is being marketed by the Naval Group under the name “Belh@rra”, whose unusual spelling references the project’s widespread use of digital technology. The Belh@rra will fill the gap between the smaller Gowind 2,500- tonnes corvettes and the larger 6,000-tonne FREMM frigates offered by the Naval Group for export markets.
Earlier this month, Greece signed a letter of intent (LoI) with France for the proposed acquisition of two Belh@rra frigates for the Hellenic Navy. The LoI was signed between Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, the Minister for National Defence of Greece, and Florence Parly, the French Minister for the Armed Forces, on Oct. 10, 2019.