Apr 18, 2013 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: French navy; issued April 17, 2013)
(Issued in French only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)
As part of the process leading to its admission to active duty, the European multi-mission frigate Aquitaine, the lead ship of the FREMM class, which handed over to the French navy in November 2012 to the Navy, is performing an extended deployment from February 9 to 10 May 2013. This is the second phase of the "verification of military capabilities" (VCM) process.
This is an extended period at sea, at long distances from home waters, and with its full crew to test and evaluate the ship and its systems, and to ensure its crew have mastered its capabilities.
Thus, during the North American leg of its deployment, Aquitaine joined several U.S. Navy vessels off the coast of South Carolina to take part, from March 30 to April 4, 2013 in the training exercise "Independent Deployer."
This exercise has helped to highlight the versatility of Aquitaine.
Opposed to a group of vessels and aircraft of the U.S. Navy, the FREMM and its Caïman helicopter accompanied several American ships and were able to detect, track and engage fictitious coalition enemies.
The interoperability of tactical data links enabled the Aquitaine, as well as the other ships, to share with the entire force data and information collected by its own sensors, which is indispensable for effective joint operations. Thanks to secure "chats," the operations center crew kept in permanent contact with the task force command and with allied vessels, and perfectly assumed their role within the task force.
The Caïman naval helicopter (NFR90) proved especially valuable. Its long range and state-of-the-art surface search radar effectively multiplied Aquitaine’s detection ranges, and formed a particularly effective and promising addition to France’s naval forces.
After several days of a full and varied workout, the FREMM demonstrated that it had earned its place in a combined force. Its valuable technical capabilities, combined with those of her Caïman helicopter and the expertise of its sailors, allowed the ship to fully meet the challenge of her first Allied exercise.
For Captain Benoit Rouvière, commander of the Aquitaine, "This confrontation is essential: it should provide a clear measure of the state of maturity of the combat system and, more generally, confirms the ability of the most modern ship in the French fleet to take its place in a demanding environment. The result exceeded my expectations.”
FREMM Technical Characteristics
- total length: 142.2 meters
- beam: 19.7 meters
- displacement: 6,040 tonnes
- maximum speed: 27 knots
- Crew: 108 officers and ratings
- 4 x 324mm torpedo tubes (MU90 torpedoes)
- 1 x 76mm gun turret
- 2 x 20mm automatic cannons
- 4 x 12.7mm machine guns
- 8 MM40 Exocet anti-ship missiles
- 1 x SAAM surface-to-air and anti-missile system (Aster 15 missiles)
- MDCN naval cruise missiles.