Frégates Européennes Multi-Missions (FREMM)
European Multi-Mission Frigate
The European Multi-Mission Frigate (FREMM) program of the French and Italian Ministries of Defense was started in October 2004. Within this framework, ARMARIS and its Italian partner, ORIZZONTE SISTEMI NAVALI, jointly share prime-contracting responsibilities for the FREMM program.
The FREMM Program was initially broken down into four ship versions:
- France - Action Vers la Terre (AVT) / Anti Sous-Marine (ASM) versions
- italy - General Purpose (GP) / Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) versions
The differences between versions of the two nations are obviously different from the superstructures. The ship will have a full load displacement of about 5,750 tons, an overall length of about 140 metres and a speed of more than 27 knots. The vessel’s autonomy will reach 45 continuous days and a range of 6000 NM at 15 knots and she will be able to perform the role of CTG (commander task group). The ship will be designed and built in accordance with Rinamil rules. The propulsion plant will have a CODLAG (combination of diesel power for the electric propulsion and gas turbine) configuration featuring one gas turbine, two electrical motors (reversible type for Italian Navy) C.P. propellers and four diesel generating units. The ASW version will be fitted with both towed and hull mounted sonars. The GP version will be equipped to operate 2 large RIBs for operations and fitted with a 127/64 mm Vulcano gun. Both versions will have two hangars for two NH90 or 1 NH90+1 EH101 helicopters.
The FREMM are able to fulfill missions ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare), ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare), AAW (Anti-Air Warfare) and attack in depth. As of 2009 Italy had chosen six of its 10 units configuring GP (General Purpose), the other four will be in ASW version. France had opted for 9 ships in the Anti Sous-Marine (ASM) ASW version and two FREDA [ frégates multimissions en version de défense aérienne FREDA ] anti-aircraft version. Under financial pressure, the French government cut the FREMM orders from 17 units to 11 and dropped the planned Action Vers la Terre (AVT) surface attack version.
Initially, France anticipated that four frigates of the Horizon type would be made, but these vessels, armed and extremely powerful, have also been very expensive. Delivered by DCNS in 2007 and 2008 (and put into service shortly thereafter), Forbin and Chevalier Paul cost to themselves alone, 2.7 billion euros (design and construction of platforms and weapons systems included). Due to a lack of funds, their two sister ships were abandoned. Since 2005, DCNS engineers worked on an adaptation of the FREMM to air defense missions. This solution is less costly, led to FREDA as the 10th and 11th FREMM frigates. The design of these new vessels uses the same platform as the 9 ASM oriented ships. The equipment of air defense frigates are more expensive (more powerful radar, missiles Aster 30).
The multimission frigates will eventually constitute the backbone of the French surface fleet in the various fields of battle at sea (anti-submarine, anti-aircraft, anti-ship and asymmetrical). On a tonnage of 6,000 tons for a length of 142 m, which can reach speeds of 27 knots, served by a small crew of 108 people, they are heavily armed: sea-sea missiles 40 Exocet anti-aircraft missiles Aster, MU90 torpedoes. The first 9 frigates, Type ASM, will have more capacity for deep strike, through the future naval cruise missile that will enter service in 2014. The 2 FREDA are designed to protect a carrier battle group or amphibious against aircraft and missiles. All FREMM will implement an NH90 helicopter and special forces and their equipment.
In May 2004, the French Ministry of Defense made public the decision to use gas turbine engines to power the 5,500-metric-ton platform multi-mission frigates in the FREMM program. The Italians preferred the gas turbine option to diesel engines despite the higher cost. According to Defense News, the contractors believed that the joint purchase would project a common effort and actually decrease the per-frigate price significantly while ensuring a swifter fleet.
British engine maker Rolls-Royce and its partner, French ship maker DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales), are offering a Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine engine, while Italy's Fiat Avio is offering General Electric's LM2500+ engine built under license from General Electric. A gas turbine contract is worth 35 million to 45 million euros ($41.8 to $53.7 million) per ship.
There remained other equipment decisions to be made for FREMM, such as the combat management system. The software for this system will tie together the key subsystems on the frigates, allowing for command and control. DGA, the French procurement agency, was looking for the "best value" for money in radar, electronic warfare, and communications suites for the ships.
The FREMM frigates are the most technologically advanced as well as the most competitive vessels on the market. Built under DCNS prime contractorship, they are heavily armed and carry state-of-the-art weapon systems and equipment, including the Herakles multifunction radar, MU90 torpedoes and Aster and Exocet MM40 missiles. The FREMM frigates are highly automated to allow reduced crewing. They are inherently versatileto provide a response to all types of threats.