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DCNS BELH@RRA® digital frigate - 2016

On the occasion of the Euronaval Exhibition in Paris-Le Bourget 18 October 2016, DCNS unveilled BELH@RRA®, the new front-line digital frigate dedicated to the international market and which renewed the heavily-armed 4,000-ton frigate segment. DCNS has named its new frigate BELH@RRA® in reference to Europe’s only giant wave: the Belharra.

The first “a” transformed into an @ makes reference to the highly digital nature of the frigate proposed by DCNS. The new heavily-armed frigate made for the international market. With the BELH@RRA® frigate, DCNS intends to continue the success enjoyed by La Fayette-class frigates, a reference on the naval defence market with over twenty units sold to four navies around the world.

The French Basque coast focusses swell out of the Atlantic along a deep water trench that almost points directly at the reef break Belharra. Situated as it is at ST Jean De Luz, where France meets Spain, it gets impressive swell and thus when monster surf is forecasted it is one of the go-to places in Europe. The 15 meter deep, seagrass covered shoal 1.5-2.5 km offshore creates an A-frame peak on the two or three largest swells of the winter. The deepwater reef known as Belharra roars to life when swell of the XXL variety comes barreling through the North Atlantic and into the Bay of Biscay.

DCNS completed its product line by positioning a latest-generation vessel between the 6,000-tonne FREMM multi-mission frigate segment and that of the 2,500- to 3,000-tonne GOWIND® corvettes. With the BELH@RRA® frigate, DCNS responded to the expectations of navies looking for a compact frigate, capable of ensuring long-range missions, operating alone or embedded in a naval force, on the high seas or as part of coastal surveillance missions in a dense and hostile environment.

The new BELH@RRA® frigate offers operational intelligence that is unequalled on the market, in addition to a modular design, robustness and simplified use, which are all the fruit of the technological evolutions of the last few years. Ten years after the first design studies for the FREMM multi-mission frigate, DCNS’s latest frigate also capitalises on the experience of the French Navy with this vessel across a large number of operational theatres.

Thanks to the architecture and versatility of DCNS’s SETIS® combat-management system, proven on the FREMM frigates and GOWIND® corvettes, the BELH@RRA ® frigate will respond to the specific needs of client navies in all areas of warfare, whilst at the same time offering significant platform modularity to increase vessel payload or autonomy. The new frigate will offer cutting-edge performance for submarine warfare, an unprecedented aircraft detection capability and strengthened air-surface warfare capacities; a multi-mission foundation to which capacities responding to new threats such as asymmetric warfare or cyber-defence will also be added.

Resolutely oriented towards future operators in command of vessels beyond 2020, the BELH@RRA® frigate benefits from digital technologies. These endow it with greater performance for data processing and threat detection whilst at the same time allowing the crew to concentrate on tasks with the most added value.

The development of digital technologies guarantees the upgradeability of the vessel throughout its life-cycle. For a period of almost forty years, the equipment and systems will be incrementally modernised to adapt to evolutions in the operational context, future threats and the arrival of new technologies.

The BELH@RRA® in its French-Navy version, a program that is already under way. DCNS already offers a French-Navy version of the new BELH@RRA ® frigate in the frame of the FTI (intermediate-size frigate) programme conducted by the French Procurement Agency (DGA) on behalf of the French Navy. For the French-Navy version, the BELH@RRA ® frigate is designed to satisfy France’s needs as defined by the French Ministry of Defence: a front-line frigate for anti-submarine warfare of a displacement of 4,000 tonnes equipped with widened self-defence and commando-projection capacities. Last but not least, it integrates the Thales Sea Fire® four flat antenna radar and is equipped with ASTER® 30 missiles from MBDA.

For DCNS, the vessel of the future starts from the full industrial site right to the individual work station, in ‘the factory of the future’. It is a flexible and digital environment where production systems modelling, simulation and optimization solutions and automated manufacturing and control processes are developed. To physically support an operator in her/his duty, DCNS develops the use of “cobotics”, collaborative robotics, making it easier for an operator to carry out notably handling, welding or grinding tasks. DCNS also develops operator cognitive assistance in order to enhance work stations ergonomics.

The digital system par excellence, the combat vessel, with a multi-decade life-cycle, is increasingly intelligent, increasingly automated and interconnected in a constantly-evolving environment. Through the digitalisation of the vessel and its naval solutions, DCNS combines versatility, rapidity and the securing of its products at the service of its client navies.

With the growing sophistication of combat systems and the explosion in the volume of multi-source information flows gathered from the marine environment, operational units and land-based command centres, navies must take the right decision at the right time and thus win the time battle. Part of this battle is the development of operator stations equipped with ergonomic and easy-to-use man-machine interfaces, greater automation and more intuitive control of systems, suited to the increasingly collaborative needs.

Within the Ops Room and the Control Room of a frigate or submarine of the future, DCNS not only integrates a tactile console, virtual assistant and expert systems but also connected objects based on algorithms whose power allows a better analysis of the situation and facilitated decision support.

DCNS has developed the Access (Afloat Common Computerized and Evolutive Secured Systems) project, an on-board data centre allowing the grouping of data systems in powerful, upgradeable, cyber-secured and maintainable computing centres. Designed to improve vessel operations and through-life support, this system facilitates the management of software and hardware obsolescence throughout the vessel’s lifetime. Thanks to ships digitalisation, which allows a fuller processing of data, DCNS works on optimising maintenance cycles and over a better anticipation of preventive or corrective servicing (statistical analysis, trends analysis, low signals analysis, correlation between several systems or several ships or installations of similar types…).

Along with this optimisation of cycles, DCNS is able to implement more frequent ship modernisation, without having to wait ships mid-life refurbishment, as well as offering all new capabilities (sensors, combat system adaptations, cybersecurity – integrity checks, drones…). These achievements need to be extended and facilitated, within Navies operational constraints.

In the face of a newly emerging warfare domain, that of cyber-defence, the armed vessel of tomorrow must manage both the opening of data access and the protection of its systems. DCNS takes into account the cyber-security challenges over the vessel’s entire life-cycle right from its design phase. The Group is now developing a system for defensive IT warfare and installation resilience to provide its clients with a continuous capacity to operate and fight with high-performance and secure resources while under the threat of a cyber-attack.

Displacement 4000-4250 t full
Length 121-122 m [395 feet]
Beam 17-17.7 m
Speed 27-29 kn max
Range to 5000 mn @ 15 knots cruise speed
  • 1 x 76mm, 2 x 20 mm
  • 16 x Aster 15/30 in 2 x VLS
  • Sylver A50 LACM "MdCN"
  • 8 x MM-40 Bl 3,
  • TL 324 mm
  • Hangar for
  • 1 x 10-ton NH-90
  • 1 x mid-size UAV
  • Electronics
  • Sea Fire 500 radar [range max 500 km]
  • Hull, towed sonars and towed linear antenna
  • Crew
  • 145-165, or
  • 125 + 15 for helo

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    Page last modified: 31-01-2020 19:11:57 ZULU