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Construction starts on first digital frigate for France

Oct. 25 (UPI) — A steel-cutting ceremony marked the start of construction for France’s new frigate at Naval Group’s Lorient, France, shipyard.

The shipyard ceremony Thursday was led by French Defense Minister Florence Parly, and guests included Adm. Nicolaos Tsunis of the Greek Navy, the company said in a press release.

Envoys of Poland and New Zealand also attended the event, an indication that their countries may be future customers.

The first-in-class 393-foot vessel is known internally as an Admiral Ronarc’h-class FDI, or defense and intervention, frigate, and will be exported to customers under the name Belharra. The Greek navy ordered two ships last week.

The diesel-powered ship can sail 5,000 nautical miles without refueling and can stay at sea for up to 45 days. Its weapons include torpedoes, missiles and a 20mm cannon, and the ship’s aft deck can accommodate a helicopter. The ship is designed to counter traditional threats from other ships, from aircraft and from submarines, as well as cyber and asymmetrical threats.

Five have been ordered by the French Navy, with the first two expected to be delivered by 2023.

“This program will increase to 15 the number of first-rank frigates of the French Navy, as planned in the French military spending plan,” noted Sylvain Perrier, Naval Group project director.

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