What options does the French Navy have to strengthen the protection of its ships?

We can think that the episode of the frigate Languedoc, and the media stir that it is already causing, will be able to convince the General Staff of the National Navy, and the Ministry of the Armed Forces, to review their copies in this area. Let's be honest, they will only be able to do this if additional funds, earmarked for this type of need, were allocated in one way or another.

However, today, the French defense industry is able to offer several options, all with their own advantages, to strengthen the survivability of the French Navy's frigates, and more generally, of its large surface units.

Second part of the article devoted to the episode of the attack on the Languedoc frigate. Read the first part » What questions does the attack on the frigate Languedoc raise? « 

Increase the number of VLS silos – reserved locations

The first and most obvious solution would be to increase the number of silos on board frigates. Indeed, the 32 silos of the Aquitaine and Alsace classes, and the 16 silos of the Amiral Ronarc'h class, are far from representing an upper limit for these ships. The proof is that the FDI frigates acquired by Greece will carry 32 silos, and not 16 like the French ships, as well as a CIWS Sea RAM on the rear roof.

FDI Greece
The IDF acquired by Greece are armed with four Sylver 50 systems and a CIWS RAM on the rear roof, allowing them to carry 32 ASTER 30 missiles, like the French Alsace-class anti-aircraft frigates, as well as 21 RAM missiles. self-protection.

Increasing the number of silos can prove to be an effective solution, especially when reserved locations have been provided in this regard, such as on the Forbin classes (2 Sylver 50 for 16 Aster missiles), or on the Amiral Ronarc'h classes (two Sylver 50 or 70 for Aster 15/30 missiles or MdCN).

French doctrine was that these reserved locations could be used to increase the firepower of the ships, if the beginnings of a crisis were to be felt. However, and despite a large number of potentially major crises looming, no decision was taken in this area during the 2024-2030 LPM voted a few months ago.

Increasing the number of VLS on board the FREMM Aquitaine and Alsace will, on the other hand, be a more difficult exercise, therefore long, expensive and intrusive. In fact, the ship does not have space reserved for this, which requires, prior to adding VLS, moving existing systems. Such a redesign is complex, especially as it could alter the centering of the ship, and therefore its nautical qualities and/or acoustic discretion, essential for anti-submarine warfare.

Naval Group and MBDA had, however, jointly studied a few years ago, a lighter solution, based on the addition of VL MICA launch cells on the side of the aircraft hangar. Less restrictive than VLS, vertical launch cells do not allow modular reloading. On the other hand, this solution made it possible to add, at lower cost, 24 VL MICA to the ship's arsenal.

Dynamically adapt the onboard weaponry to the mission

A second, lighter solution to increase the response capabilities of a frigate to its mission, would be to equip its Sylver VLS systems with cabling and control systems, making it possible to accommodate different types of missiles. This approach only concerns, today, the Aquitaine class frigates, such as the Languedoc.

National Navy MdCN loading on Aquitaine class frigate
The silos of the SYLVER 70 system can currently only accommodate MdCN cruise missiles. The French Navy announced, in 2021, that it would begin the deployment of shared control systems, potentially allowing them to accommodate Aster 30 surface-to-air missiles.

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  1. “French doctrine wanted these reserved locations to be able to be used to increase the firepower of the ships, if the beginnings of a crisis were to be felt. »
    The equipment still needs to be available on shelves and its implementation does not require hundreds of hours of preliminary studies and, ultimately, hundreds of hours of testing!
    The under-armament of our buildings is redundant! The only really heavily armed type that I have known, in terms of its tonnage and its dimensions, is the Aviso A69: 4 MM40 (at the beginning 4 MM38), 100 mmx1, 20 mmx2, 4 L5 torpedoes, LR/ASM 375 mm, SIMBAD, NIXIE, … all for 100 m/1250 t! Well, it’s true the missions in the Bay of Biscay during the winter months were rough but in the 80’s…. we asked ourselves fewer questions.
    The question is simple: can we (technically)? Yes No. If so, do we want it? : Here is all the question. If so, these are only budgetary choices which should not be limited to the budget of the armed forces but of the nation. In a word, do we have the will to defend ourselves? Of course there is the FNS but since the presidency of VGE, who admitted in his memoirs that he would never have given the order for a nuclear fire, I have some doubts about the reactions of his successors.


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