Suffren (Barracuda) class submarine
The Suffren-class (also known as Barracuda-class) is the next-generation SNA (Sous-marins nucléaires d'attaque - Nuclear Attack Submarine). Much like their predecessors, Barracuda-class SNA will have an anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare role, with the ability to launch cruise-missiles. They will primarily be tasked with ensuring the safety of the Strategic Oceanic Force, conducting carrier group escorts and power-projection.
. It is a key means of submarine control operations with significant operational capability. Among these, one can insist on a discretion almost 10 times greater than that of the Rubis-class submarines, the possibility of carrying a removable bridge hangar for the deployment of special forces and the ability to fire from Naval cruises missiles, with a range of 1000 km against land targets.
Missions include mastery of air-maritime spaces, for the benefit of nuclear submarines launchers (SNLE) or an air force (aircraft carriers). Thee boats will provide discreet collection of intelligence, especially in coastal areas, and land objectives far from the coast (precision strike in depth). The submarines can support projection of special forces (implementation of combat swimmers with all their equipment)
In addition to anti-surface and anti-submarine capabilities, the Barracuda will accommodate intelligence gathering and the deployment of special forces and carry MDCN cruise missiles providing a land strike capability. The payload of 20 tube-launched weapons will comprise a mix of future heavyweight torpedoes, cruise missiles and SM39 anti-ship missiles. Barracuda-class SNA will be armed with cruise-missiles planned for future Multi-Missions European Frigates (FREMM), the future heavy torpedo (FTL) which will replace the F17 torpedo, the SM 39 anti-surface missile(exocet family), and the FG 29 mine.
The Barracuda-class SNA will be, like the Rubis-class SNA it is meant to replace, nuclear-powered. The powerplant will be built by Technicatome. The nuclear reactor is derived from the models used on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and SNLE submarines. It is meant to allow for a sustained speed of 22 knots for more than 20 days.
More than just a renewal of the Rubis- type SNAs put into service in the 1980s, Suffren- type SNAs enable the French Navy to move upmarket. To the traditional missions of the SNA (support for deterrence, discreet collection of intelligence, escort of precious building ...), the BARRACUDA program allows to add two new functions: striking accurately in the depth via the naval cruise missile; deploy combat swimmers via a removable bridge shed. In addition, Suffren SNAs will be able to navigate farther, faster, longer and more discreetly.
The shell of the submarine will always be black and it will remain cylindrical because the laws of physics are immutable. But for all those who know at least the secrets of underwater operations, no doubt, this type of ANS will make the difference. The current first-generation ANSs, which arm the French fleet, were designed in the 1970s. Beyond their replacement because of planned expiry, it is a question of answering the missions in the successive white papers as well as possible. To best defend its national interests, France must project its forces ever further. However, this new generation SNA will be able to go further, longer and faster. This improvement of the SNA component is based on three pillars of excellence that the builders have developed in conjunction with the Navy, the Directorate General of Armament and the Atomic Energy Commission.
Hidden from his opponents, the SNA type Suffren will be much more discreet than his "elder". It will benefit from the latest advances developed, particularly for the nuclear launching submarines (SNLE) of the Le Triomphant type. New techniques will avoid any radiation of noises, a hybrid propulsion system, ingenious marriage between steam turbines and electric motors, will allow to have several optimal speed ranges. In operations, this new SNA can deploy and "chase" at high speeds while remaining silent. At the same time, its listening and classification capabilities will be optimized thanks to new acoustic detection antennas, adapted to an optimized combat system.
The autonomy of the submarine is a sine qua non for the success of missions. An increased capacity for storing food is one of many. It will allow the Suffren SNA crew to live in complete autarky for long operational periods (70 to 90 days as opposed to 45 to 60 days aboard SNA Rubis ). In addition, the redundancy of vital installations has been increased compared to that of its predecessor. This quality, essential for underwater navigation, allows, in case of damage to a part of a system (propulsion system, electrical plant, combat or navigation system, ...), to have alternative solutions to last at sea. Good redundancy is the key capacity to combine operational permanence and safety.
On the other hand, it was excluded that modernity is accompanied by fragility. The focus was therefore on the robustness of sensors and equipment. This has also allowed the traditionally quarterly maintenance periods to be grouped into a single annual technical stop. The goal for the ANS is to remain operational on a continuous basis in remote deployment areas regardless of conditions.
The Suffren, first-born of the Barracuda program will have new wire-guided torpedoes and anti-ship missiles modernized. This type of weaponry currently used on Rubis class SNA will be enriched with a new weapon with a strategic effect: the naval cruise missile (MDCN). The latter will discreetly reach precisely a terrestrial target located several hundred kilometers away. It will offer a real strategic capability, which can be implemented in "precursor" operation or in direct cooperation with a carrier group, if necessary closer to the conflict zone. The special forces projection capability will finally be extended, particularly thanks to the submarine bridge hangar. This removable equipment could be "hooked" to the submarine and thus make the SNA type Suffren a discreet rear base for special operations and even in coalition.
As a subsidiary of AREVA group, AREVA TA designs, carries out, operates and maintains in operating conditions energy supply systems for naval propulsion and vital systems for transportation. AREVA TA proposes its customers engineering, equipment and services combining safety, availability and reliability, throughout all life-cycle of complex facilities. AREVA TA belongs to the Reactors & Services branch of AREVA group and employs 2.000 people.
On December 29, 2006, the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded MBDA a 910 million Euro contract funding the development and production of 250 SCALP Naval missiles. The French Navy will take delivery of these missiles to equip the FREMM frigates (200 missiles) and Barracuda-class nuclear submarines (50 missiles).
In January 2008, GE Oil & Gas was selected by DCNS to provide the turbo-generators and propulsion turbines for the French Navy's new fleet of six nuclear submarines, which are scheduled to enter service between 2016 and 2027. DCNS, the European leader in naval defense systems, recently awarded Thermodyn, the Le Creusot-based turbo-machinery division of GE Oil & Gas, a contract to provide two turbo-generators and one propulsion turbine for the Suffren, the first of the six submarines ordered under an initial contract as well as for each of the other five ships ordered under optional contracts. The turbo-generator-rectifiers will supply electric power to the propulsion and to the auxiliary systems. GE's propulsion turbine, which drives the propeller, will supply the required mechanical power to the submarine when at top speed. These condensing-type turbines are highly customized to address the French Navy's specific requirements, including very low noise and vibration levels, to provide the submarine with maximum speed and stealth capabilities.
In January 2008, Wellman Defence Ltd has been awarded a contract for the supply of its latest design of Oxygen generation system for the French Navy’s new SSN submarine, The Barracuda Class. The contract is for the supply of 6 submarine sets of equipment and logistic support. The program was expected to have duration of 15 years and would utilise Wellman’s latest design of HDPE electrolyser. This followed a similar contract award for the UK Royal Navy’s Astute Class submarine Boat 04.
Europe’s leading space company Astrium has developed a binding carbon dioxide (CO2) regenerative process for the International Space Station (ISS). Carbon dioxide is exhaled by human beings as a metabolic by-product and is noxious in high concentrations. It must therefore be removed from the air of any ‘closed’ atmosphere such as the space station or in submarines. This technology developed by Astrium is now to be used on board the latest French submarine series ‘Barracuda’. Astrium was awarded the development and supply contract for this by the naval defence company DCNS in Cherbourg.
As the global underwater activity grows, the renewal of the SNA allows France to control maritime areas and thus guarantees the possibility of ensuring deterrence via our nuclear submarines launchers (SNLE). The BARRACUDA team is made up of some fifty technical experts, architects and managers from the DGA, experts from the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) and operational managers from the Navy. More than 100 subcontractors and SMEs are involved in this program, in France and in Europe. In total, several thousand people participate.
A total of 65 submariners (men or women) will train the SNA crew Suffren . To adapt them to the new technologies of this building, the submariners have already been trained for 3 years on simulators. The Suffren armament crew , commanded by Commander Axel Roche, was officially formed on 11 July 2019.
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