5 Centuries of Maritime Prowess
Naval Group (DCNS) as shipbuilder and integrator
DCNS, which has just changed its name to NAVAL GROUP, traces its routes back to 1631 and is assuredly one of the world’s leading shipbuilder and integrator. Also: Irkut MC-21’s Maiden Flight; INIOHOS 2017; FAMEX 2017.
The DCNS of today can trace its roots back to 1631, when France’s Louis XIII ordered the construction of new naval shipyards. More than just an administrative decision, this move was a radical change in naval shipbuilding. It aimed to bring together under one organisation the best experts and infrastructure that France had to offer in terms of naval architecture, construction, systems integration and maintenance.
Fast forward by nearly five centuries, with a tour of DCNS’s unique end-to-end industrial model, which has been exported with success around the world.
Since then and till now, DCNS and its industry partners have designed and constructed a wide range of frontline warships ( frigates, corvettes, landing platform deck (LPD), aircraft carriers) and submarines (nuclear and conventional). But not only platforms, a core know-how of DCNS is in the state of the art seamless integration. Seamless integration is at the heart of today’s most advanced warships. Designing these requires the integration of multiple systems to create one floating system capable of executing multiple missions. No individual system can be disconnected from another. This integration of systems makes the modern warship one of the most complex human-made systems extant, far more complex than about any other vehicle. Being also a system designer and builder, DCNS naturally imbibes the capabilities of such integration in complex platforms and make them adapted to any mission for the French Navy or other international navies of the world.
Tactical ships and submarines
DCNS is one of the few companies in the world to have design competencies in both nuclear and conventional submarines, having delivered 37 submarines, ranging from 2,000 tonnes to 14,000 tonnes, over the past 50 years. DCNS currently designs, builds and/or maintains Scorpène 2000- class submarines for foreign countries such as Malaysia, Brazil and India ( building of 6 submarines for the Indian Navy under the P75 project). DCNS is designing and building the new Barracuda SSN attack submarine for the French Navy, the first of which will enter service in 2017. It will offer a high SRS (Silent Running Speed) combined with excellent manoeuvrability. Its advanced ability to communicate discreetly is particularly useful during crisis management missions. Barracuda can launch a large range of weapons and countermeasures, including fire-and-forget anti-ship and land-attack missiles as well as wire-guided torpedoes. To improve its overall efficiency, Barracuda offers higher at-sea availability. Last but not least, DCNS won in 2016 a strategic and sustainable partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia for the Australia’s Future
Submarine Programme for 50 years. “DCNS is committed to ensuring that Australia has a regionally superior submarine constructed in 12 units in Adelaide and develops a sovereign naval industry.”
The Digital Frigate
DCNS latest tactical warship is christened Belh@rra, the new 4,000-ton digital frigate proposed to meet needs of the French Navy and meet a growing international demand for first-rate, heavy armed frigates with a displacement of 4,000 tons. These intermediate- size frigates, of which the first unit will be delivered in 2023, are designed to replace the La Fayette– class frigates that entered service with the French Navy between 1996 and 2001. They will incorporate many innovations such as a new architecture based upon a data centre, an advanced cyber-defence capability, a modern Command Information centre, a new, extremely powerful radar, etc. Belh@arra is a good example of DCNS investments to ensure security of operations and ship’s digitalisation, which are key to maintain competitiveness and retain our customer confidence.
Future platforms in India
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) is a natural partner for DCNS, having developed a successful cooperation for construction of the modern and advanced Kalvari- class submarines. In India, DCNS is also involved in the project of 4 LPDs for which DCNS has partnered with Pipavav (now Reliance Defence and Engineering Limited RDEL). DCNS has proposed to Pipavav/ RDEL a modified version of the Mistral type LHD to meet the Indian Navy’s specific requirements.
In addition, DCNS is in constructive discussion with Indian Navy for future advanced naval platforms like aircraft carriers, latest generation cyber- secured frigates-and more. “The French shipbuilder is available to provide key technologies and design to ensure indigenous building of any advanced tactical ships at Indian shipyard through transfer of technology.” The indigenous shipbuilding of platforms like an aircraft carrier will enable DCNS to incorporate and work together with Indian design engineers and industrial houses from the early stage of conception and thus enhancing local expertise and indigenous content for future advanced naval platforms.
AIP being a strong requirement of the Indian Navy and in line with the objective to continuously increase the high indigenous content of the P75 submarines (already achieved,) DCNS have been supportive of
the indigenous DRDO AIP being developed at NMRL. “We indeed are keen to have the DRDO AIP integrated in the P75 submarines sooner or later and are advising NMRL on the safety requirement so that they can adapt their technology and general arrangement of the various subsystems accordingly.”
DCNS, under patronage of the French Navy has developed the latest generation, safest and modern torpedo F-21 for SSN Barracuda- class submarines. Integration of such heavy weight torpedo in any submarine is a complex and costly task, but DCNS being an integrator and developer of advanced combat management systems the F-21 torpedo can seamlessly be integrated with the Subtics CMS family of the Scorpène submarines. This can of course be done in coordination with sound defence industrial ecosystem in India for the increased indigenous content.
Stand alone systems
Having delivered eight indigenously-made stealth raft mounted gearboxes for four antisubmarine corvettes (P28 project), built at Garden Reach Shipbuilder and Engineers (GRSE), DCNS wants now to cooperate with Indian companies on new generation DCNS Versatile Gearbox (DVG) for future naval warships and platforms.
DCNS is also proposing advanced simulators for submarine applications to the Indian Navy. Such simulators are being proposed with high indigenous content and in partnership with Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) which is not only a key shipbuilder but also centre of excellence for simulators.
“In addition, DCNS (and its subsidiaries like Sirehna) propose to Indian Navy and Indian shipyards advanced tactical systems and equipment like latest generation, PLCbased IPMS, latest generation helicopter landing grids, Dynamic Positioning Systems (DPS) and much more. With support of Indian subsidiary DCNS India and its sound industrial ecosystem powered by qualified MSMEs, DCNS is also in position to offer considerable indigenous content while proposing our systems and equipment, in complete sync with Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ policy.”
DCNS has performed a qualification firing of the F21 torpedo as part of the Artémis programme led by the DGA ( Direction Générale de l’Armement). Artémis aims to equip all French Navy nuclear submarines with this heavy weight torpedo, the highest performing one of its generation. This qualification firing was performed under the authority of the DGA in a secured maritime area. It was preceded by about twenty industrial sea trials on prototypes from DCNS’s test vessel Pégase and COMEX’s vessel JANUS, as well as from submarines. This qualification firing, which was conducted off the Mediterranean coast, builds in particular on firings since the end of 2016. With the completion of these milestones, the Artémis programme has now entered its final development phase.
The F21 heavyweight torpedo was designed to neutralise enemy vessels and submarines. With a range in excess of 50km and a speed greater than 50 knots, the F21 is foreseen for operation not only in deep waters but above all in coastal areas with high levels of noise and dense shipping. Thanks to its significant computing power that allows for ‘exceptional’ real-time processing capacities, the F21 torpedo benefits from an advanced mission system and extended autonomy. These technical characteristics considerably widen its possibilities for tactical use with an ‘ unequalled’ target discrimination capacity, including in very challenging environments.
This will gradually equip all French submarines, starting in 2018. The contract includes the development and delivery of about one hundred F21 torpedoes and their integration into French submarines. The Brazilian Navy has also selected the F21 to equip its submarines.