LCS on Steroids

SHAH ALAM: It appears that DCNS has taken the Gowind design further and made a proper frigate. The result is the Belharra – an evolution of the Gowind and the FREMM frigates – five of which will be build starting in 2023.

The Belharra pushed the LCS design further turning it into a 4000-tonne frigate meant for anti-submarine warfare together with a proper air defence radar and missile combination.

A CGI of the Belharra frigate. DCNS

It’s likely that Egypt and we paid for the development of the Belharra by buying the Gowinds though DCNS still need to get the French government to pay for the five frigates. That was not a big problem as the French need to replace the La Fayette class.

French Navy Auvergne FREMM class frigate.

So if our government really allocate the funds for the next batch of the LCS as envisioned by RMN 15 to 5 plan, will they choose the Belharra or stick with the current design? Since they have already bought the LCS design, a 3000 tonnes frigate, it is unlikely to do so.

A CGI of the LCS, a 3000 tonne Gowind frigate.

The press release from DCNS:

DCNS is pleased to have been informed by the French Defence Ministry of a contract attribution.

The French Defence Ministry today announced the attribution to DCNS of a contract for the development and construction of five intermediate-size frigates (FTIs) intended for the French Navy. DCNS will propose a French version of its new BELH@RRA frigate. The first of the five frigates from this DGA-managed programme should be delivered in 2023 with an entry into active service in 2025.

The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

The new BELH@RRA frigate will be designed and developed by DCNS, in joint project management with THALES for the development of the new-generation radar it will be equipped with.

The initiation of the FTI programme will benefit the DCNS Group’s employment basins, the foremost of which being the DCNS Lorient site and its subcontracting partners: the design of the BELH@RRA frigates represents about two million hours of work for the DCNS design offices. For the entire DCNS Group, the construction of a BELH@RRA frigate represents on average two million hours of work, of which three hundred thousand hours for the design offices.

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of DCNS states that: “DCNS is proud to contribute, alongside THALES, to the renewal of the French naval forces thanks to a new vessel responding to the needs of a world-class navy. It is key component of our range of military vessels and the attribution of this contract also allows us to develop a frigate that addresses the expectations of a dynamic international market.”

A world-class frigate of a displacement of 4,000 tonnes intended for anti-submarine warfare, the French version of the BELH@RRA is designed to respond to the various French national needs. It will be endowed with extended self-defence and special forces projection capacities. Last but not least, it will integrate the new THALES SEA FIRE four flat antenna radar and will be equipped with Aster 30 missiles from MBDA.Developed for crews that will take the commands around 2020, the BELH@RRA frigates will benefit from the very latest digital technologies. They will, in particular, be equipped with a latest-generation combat system. This will bring greater rapidity for tactical analysis, decision taking and weapons deployment.

A CGI potrait of the Belh@rra. DCNS

The integration of the latest digital technologies will ensure that the vessel will be able to evolve over a period of almost forty years. The information-processing systems will be modernised incrementally to be adapted to changes in the operational context, the emergence of future threats and the short renewal cycles for new technologies.

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 around the world. DCNS completes its product line by positioning this new frigate between the 6,000-tonne FREMM multi-mission frigate segment and that of the 2,500- to 3,000-tonne Gowind corvettes.

Egyptian Gowind 2500 undergoing sea trials.

Personally I like the design. Even if we continue building the LCS, the Belharra looks like a good design as a replacement for the Lekiu and Kasturi classes. A five-ship build will be wonderful, we could even named them after the fabled ancient Malacca warriors starting with Tuah, pennant number 31.

 Can we afford it though? Unlikely, based on the current fiscal and funding situation.

–Malaysian Defence

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