The new FREMM frigate with reinforced anti-aircraft capability Alsace officially entered service on Monday, November 22, according to a message published directly by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly. This ship replaces the anti-aircraft frigate Cassard withdrawn from service in March 2019, and allows the Navy to now align 9 modern frigates, out of the 15 ships of this type which it must have according to the 2013 White Paper and the 2017 Strategic Review. If the number is not yet there, awaiting entry in service with its sister ship Lorraine in 2022, then with the new FDI Defense and Intervention Frigates between 2025 and 2030, the new capabilities offered by Alsace, particularly in the area of anti-aircraft defense, enable the Navy National to make a significant jump in immediate capacity.
If the Alsace class frigates have neither the tonnage, nor the detection and fire power of the two Forbin class Air Defense Frigates, they are on the other hand much more versatile, and much less expensive (35% less expensive). ). Indeed, L'Alsace is an evolution of the Aquitaine class, a versatile frigate with land strike capabilities with 16 MdCN cruise missiles. If the 16 MdCNs have been replaced by as many Aster 30 long-range anti-aircraft missiles, for a total of 32 missiles in vertical silos ready to fire, and if the Herakles radar of the FREMM has been optimized for anti-aircraft missions. airborne, Alsace retains the excellent anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare capabilities of the Aquitaine, with a high-performance sonar detection chain including a CAPTAS-2 towed sonar and Kingklip hull sonar, and an ASM Caiman wrestling helicopter.
In fact, Alsace is just as comfortable in anti-aircraft defense missions, being able to set up a denial of access zone of 100 km around it thanks to its Aster 30 missiles, as in the field of anti-submarine warfare, having the same discretion and the same detection and engagement capacities as Aquitaine in these fields. The frigate will therefore constitute a key element in the protection of major units of the French Navy, such as the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier or the Assault helicopter carriers of the Mistral class, alongside the FDA of the Forbin class, and of the Aquitaine class FREMMs. Note that the announcement of the entry into service of Alsace came even though it is participating in the major exercise of the French Navy Polaris, which brings together in the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay, 24 ships including the aircraft carrier Charle de Gaulle, belonging to 6 nations (France, Spain, Italy, United States, Greece and United Kingdom), 65 aircraft and 6000 sailors as well as elements of the Army and Air Force, until December 3, 2021.
On the other hand, we cannot help but notice that the means currently available to the French Navy are particularly limited. In addition to the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and the 3 PHAs, it only aligns 4 operational nuclear attack submarines, 2 air defense frigates, 7 FREMMs including one for air defense, as well as 5 light stealth frigates, one of which has been modernized to act as an interim while awaiting FDI deliveries. The rest of the units consist of T70 frigates with outdated operational capabilities unsuitable for modern engagement, and even older A69 high seas patrol vessels, and Tripartite mine hunters also reaching retirement age. Unfortunately, even though the format of the French Navy is insufficient to meet the security challenges that have arisen in recent years, it will not be able to have its minimum arsenal until 2030, when all the IDFs, but also the SNA class Suffren, andThe new ocean patrol vessels will have been delivered. It only remains to hope that nothing serious does not happen by then….