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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.

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.

Construction Program

Barracuda-type SSNs will replace the current Rubis/Amthyste class between 2017 and 2028. DCN has primary responsibility for the design and construction of the Barracuda-class submarines. The hull and final componene integration will be completed at the Cherbourg shipyard. Propulsion work will be conducted at the DCN's factory at Indret while combat systems will be overseen at the Toulon plant.

The Barracuda-class submarines are meant to eventually replace the Rubis-class submarines once these start reaching the end of their useful life between 2012 and 2023. The future attack-submarine program was launched by the French Minister of Defense on 14 October 1998. The design-phase of the Barracuda-class SNA program began in June 2002 with the start of the development phase expected to begin in 2005.

In October 2003 the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) awarded a contract to Thales Underwater Systems for an integrated sonar system for the nuclear ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) Le Terrible, the fourth ship of the Le Triomphant class. The same sonar system will be used by the new Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarines (SSN), destined to replace Rubis and Amethyste class submarines between 2012 and 2022. The new sonar is to be a part of the Barracuda class integrated combat system.

Six submarines were expected to be produced, with delivery starting in 2015. Production of six Barracuda-class submarines was expected to begin around 2012 with a rate of production of one submarine every two years. As of late 2006 the first Barracuda SSN was scheduled for delivery in 2016.

On 22 December 2006 French defence procurement agency DGA announced that it has awarded the Barracuda SSN contract to the DCN group and partner Areva-TA. The contract calls for the delivery of six new-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines, or SSNs, and through-life support services during their first years of operational service.

The program has been split into an initial contract (tranche firme), followed by six options (tranches conditionnelles). The contracts cover design, development, production and through-life support. The initial contract is worth over 1 billion out of a projected total of 8 billion over 20 years. The first Barracuda SSN is scheduled for delivery in 2016. The group's contribution will be led by DCN Cherbourg supported by Lorient, Indret, Ruelle, Toulon and Saint-Tropez along with industrial partners in several regions of France.

Within the DCN/Areva TA program consortium, DCN will act as the submarine prime contractor, including responsibilities as overall architect, platform and propulsion system prime contractor, systems integrator, nuclear safety studies coordinator and through-life support prime contractor while Areva TA will act as prime contractor for the nuclear powerplant.

Expressing his satisfaction with the contract, DCN Chairman & CEO Jean-Marie Poimbuf said: "In the same way as the FREMM programme has given our surface combatant business new visibility, this contract gives our submarine construction business production visibility extending 20 years into the future." For Areva TA Chairman & CEO Dominique Mockly, "This contract gives us significant production visibility in shipboard powerplants and while enabling us to maintain our skills base in nuclear propulsion for warships.

DCN is a major player on the European and world markets for value-adding naval defence systems. As a naval prime contractor, shipbuilder and systems integrator, DCN combines resources and expertise spanning the naval defence value chain and entire system lifecycles. DCN offers client navies a wide range of innovative solutions from integrated warships to strategic systems, equipment and services.

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 Navys new SSN submarine, The Barracuda Class. The contract is for the supply of 6 submarine sets of equipment and logistic support. The programme is expected to have duration of 15 years and will utilise Wellmans latest design of HDPE electrolyser. This follows a similar contract award for the UK Royal Navys Astute Class submarine Boat 04.

Europes 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.

Following his 2007 presidential election victory, one of Nicolas Sarkozy's first acts was to order a total spending review of all ongoing French defence projects. The spending plan was expected to take into account the observations and recommendations of a Defence White Paper published in April 2008. A draft of the White Paper presented on 21 May 2008 contained bad news for the Navy calling for the reduction and delay of a number of the navy's flagship programs. The document suggested that the French navy could do with fewer than the 17 FREMM multimission frigates that Paris intends to order and added that while France should proceed with the construction of six new Barracuda nuclear attack submarines, the delivery dates should be stretched for budgetary reasons.

The October 2008 White Paper stated that "Nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) carrying conventional cruise missiles are a priority. Due to their stealth and virtually unlimited range, they represent versa-tile strategic systems that can be used for intelligence, protection of the SSBNs, escort of the aircraft-carrier or special operations. The White Paper sets a target of six SSNs. Cruise missiles will thereafter be carried by aircraft as well as by na-val assets, based on a development emphasising a high commonality between both versions."

The first cut ceremony for the new boat was held 26 June 2009 at DCNSs Cherbourg shipyard. The cutting of the first plate for Barracuda n2 in Cherbourg this morning marks the first milestone of the boats production cycle. The ceremony was attended by principal weapons engineer (IGA) Franois Pintart, head of the DGAs Naval Management Unit, Jacques Chenais, head of the French Atomic Energy Commissions Nuclear Propulsion department and Pierre Quinchon, SVP of DCNSs Warships Division.

As of mid-2010, the expected cost of the Barracuda program was of 7,9 billion Euros(€).

As of 2012, the first submarine, named Suffren, is expected to be delivered in 2016 and commissioned in 2017. In 2015, the commissioning of the first in class [Suffren] was postponed to 2018 as a result of budget difficulties. Commissioning of FS Suffren, originally planned for 2017, is now set for 2018. The realization launched in 2006 should lead to the delivery of the first vessel in 2019.

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