FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates


The French Navy is in the process of modernizing its fleet of surface combatants, to have 15 first-rank frigates by 2030. These frigates are expected to operate in various scenarios, such as anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine, and maritime security missions. To meet this requirement, the French Ministry of Defense launched the Frégates de taille intermédiaire (FTI) program in 2017, which resulted in the development of the Belharra class frigates by the Naval Group. The Belharra class frigates, also known as the Defence and Intervention Frigates (FDI), are designed to be versatile, modular, and adaptable to different operational needs and threats.

FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates

On October 24, 2019, construction began on the first ship of the class, (D-660) Admiral Ronarc’h, at the French Naval Group shipyards. The construction of the second ship, (D-661) Admiral Louzeau, commenced on May 15, 2023. The commissioning of the first ship is scheduled for 2024. It is planned to commission all 5 ships of the class by 2029. Except for the main gun, the systems of the ships are of French defense industry origin.

FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
Specifications of FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
BuildersNaval Group
Length 122 meters
Width17.7 meters
Displacement4,460 tons
Speed27 knot
Crew125+15 (aviation crew)
Range5,000 NM at 15 knots
Propulsion SystemCombined diesel and diesel (CODAD) arrangement
Total output: 32,000 kW (43,000 shp)
Aircraft1x 10 tons helicopters and 1x UAV
Endurance45 days

The Belharra class frigates are equipped with a range of sensors and weapons systems, which provide them with a high level of situational awareness and combat capability. The main sensor is the Thales Sea Fire multi-function active electronically scanned array radar, which operates in the S-band and can track and engage multiple air and surface targets simultaneously. The frigates also have a Kingklip Mark 1115 hull sonar and a CAPTAS-4 towed sonar for anti-submarine warfare.

FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
Weapon Systems on FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
Main Gun1x Oto Melara 76 mm Super Rapid gun
Other Guns2x Nexter Narwhal 20 mm remotely operated guns
2x Leonardo LIONFISH 20mm remotely operated guns
Anti-Ship Missiles8x Exocet MM-40 Block IIIC anti-ship missiles
Air Defence Systems2x 8 cell Sylver A50 vertical launching systems with 16 MBDA Aster 15/30 surface-to-air missiles (French)
4x 8 cell Sylver A50 vertical launching systems with 32 MBDA Aster 15/30 surface-to-air missiles (Greek)
CIWS (Close-In Weapon System)1x Mk31 launcher for RAM Block 2B missiles (Greek)
Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems2x Twin torpedo tubes with EuroTorp MU90
FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates
FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates

The Belharra class frigates are expected to enter service with the French Navy from 2024 onwards, replacing the older La Fayette class frigates. Five units have been ordered, with the lead ship being named Amiral Ronarc’h. The Belharra class frigates have also attracted interest from foreign navies, such as the Hellenic Navy, which signed a contract for three units, with an option for a fourth, in 2022. The Hellenic version of the Belharra class frigates will have some modifications, such as additional vertical launching cells for Aster 15/30 missiles, a Mk31 launcher for RAM Block 2B missiles, and a SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. Different blocks of the Belharra class are produced at the Salamis Shipyard in Greece. Thus, cost and time are saved.

FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates Class Ships:
French Navy:
1(D-660) Admiral Ronarc’h (planned to be commissioned in 2024)
2(D-661) Admiral Louzeau (planned to be commissioned in 2026)
3(D-662) Admiral Costes (planned to be commissioned in 2027)
4(D-663) Admiral Nomi (planned to be commissioned in 2028)
5(D-664) Admiral Cabanier (planned to be commissioned in 2029)
Hellenic Navy:
1(F-601) HS Kimon (planned to be commissioned in 2025)
2(F-602) HS Nearchos (planned to be commissioned in 2025)
3(F-603) HS Formion (planned to be commissioned in 2026)

The Belharra class frigates are a significant addition to the French Navy’s capabilities, as they offer a high level of performance, flexibility, and interoperability. They are designed to operate in a wide range of environments and missions, from high-intensity conflicts to low-intensity operations. They are also expected to contribute to the European and NATO defense and security cooperation, as well as to the French strategic interests and influence around the world.

FDI (Belharra) Class Frigates

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