The French shipbuilder DCNS presented today the BELH@RRA frigate design – a new heavily-armed frigate made for the international market. The new design was unveiled today at the Euronaval Exhibition in Paris-Le Bourget. The new BELH@RRA class renews the heavily-armed 4,000-tonne frigate segment. It follows the company’s La Fayette-class frigates, of which over twenty units were built and are operational with four navies around the world.

The BELH@RRA design is positioned between the 6,000-tonne FREMM multi-mission frigate segment and that of the 2,500- to 3,000-tonne GOWIND corvettes. This size class is suitable for navies looking for a compact frigate, capable of ensuring long-range ocean-going 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. Similar vessels currently available from other shipbuilders are the German Meko 200 class (3,600 ton) and Russian Project 22350 Gorshkov class (4,500 ton) and Chinese Type 054 light frigates (3,000-4,000 ton).

DCNS already offers a French-Navy version of the new class of frigate, known as the Frigate – Intermediate-Size frigate (Frégates de Taille Intermédiaire – FTI), a development program 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 meet specific requirements to be a front-line frigate for anti-submarine warfare of a displacement of 4,000 tons. To support this mission Thales will provide the compact version of its CAPTAS-4 towed-array sonar currently in service on the FREMM multi-mission frigates. According to Thales, the new, compact version provides frigate class vessels the ASW detection capabilities of much larger destroyers, as it delivers the same very long-range detection performance with 20% lower weight and a footprint almost 50% smaller.

The frigate also will be equipped with Sea Fire radar also made by Thales, and the Aster 30 air defense missile system from MBDA, to offer area self-defense. The Sea Fire is designed to perform in the complex conditions of the littoral or in heavily jammed environments to counter conventional, asymmetric or emerging air and surface threats. The new radar is suitable for all types of corvettes and frigates. The vessel will also support commando operations. Other systems from Thales include the Aquilon integrated naval communication system and the Sentinel – an ESM system for electronic warfare.

According to DCNS, BELH@RRA offers a modular design, robustness, and simplified use, along with a high degree of ‘operational intelligence.’ The company has based its design on significant operational experience gathered in various naval theaters, with the FREMM multi-mission frigate, DCNS’s latest frigate. It also relies on the architecture and versatility of DCNS’s SETIS combat management system, proven on the FREMM frigates and GOWIND corvettes. The ship’s design and command systems address mission compatibility with platform modularity, to increase the vessel payload or autonomy. Among the tasks to be performed by BELH@RRA are a submarine, and anti-air warfare, along with surface attack capabilities. Additionally, new capabilities are responding to new threats such as asymmetric warfare or cyber-defense.

Resolutely oriented towards future operators in command of vessels beyond 2020, the BELH@RRA frigate benefits from digital technologies. Among the ‘digital advantages’ offered by the new frigate is a greater performance for data processing and threat detection while at the same time allowing the crew to concentrate on tasks with the most added value. The digital architecture also enables the vessel to be upgraded throughout its life-cycle, supporting the incremental modernization of equipment, infrastructure, and system, to adapt to evolving operational conditions, future threats and the arrival of new capabilities.

The French ship designer DCNS unveiled at Euronaval the Belh@rra, the new front-line digital frigate dedicated to the international market. DCNS also develops a French version of the vessel, designed as the future medium size frigate (FTI). The vessel renews the heavily-armed 4,000-tonne frigate segment, where it will follow DCNS’ La Fayette-class frigates, of which +20 units were built and operational with four navies around the world. Photo: DCNS