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DGA Launched the RFI for Future French Navy OPVs Based Overseas.

| 2018

The French defense procurement agency (DGA) just issued a request for information (RFI) for the procurement of six offshore patrol vessels for the French Navy (Marine Nationale) as part of the POM program. These vessels will be based in French overseas territories.

DGA Launched the RFI for Future French Navy OPVs to be Based Overseas 1 French Navy P400 vessel La Moqueuse (P688) about to dock in New Zealand in 2010. The new OPVs will replace the last two P400 patrol vessels vased in New Caledonia. Picture: Benchill

The RFI calls for:
- The development, construction and supply of six new and identical offshore patrol vessels (steel or aluminum hull).
- The through life support of these vessels in overseas territories and realization of associated services, including the provision of spare parts, documentation and training.
- These vessels should have a length of about 70 m, with a draft of less than (or equal to) 3.8 m, They maximum speed should be at least 22 knots.
- They will be deployed from naval bases in New Caledonia, Reunion Island and French Polynesia and will be adapted to the climatic conditions of these areas (particularly high heat and high hygrometry).
- Each patrol vessel will be armed by a crew of about 35 sailors and will be able to accommodate up to 18 additional personnel. The vessel must be able to implement divers.
- It will have good maneuverability and seaworthiness capabilities.
- It will be equipped with a capacity to accommodate a rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicle of about 700 kg (including storage under shelter, maintenance and implementation with associated means of assistance with the landing and securing of flight area ) as well as 2 RHIBs of about 8 meters.
- It will be equipped with an autonomous handling capacity for lifting equipment and will be able to carry weapons and ammunition.
- It will have a tactical situation visualization system. - It will integrate civil and military means of communication (in particular HF and satellite means).
- It should have an endurance of approximately 30 days at sea without refueling and a range of about 5,500 nautical miles.

Splitting of BATSIMAR program
All French Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels (those based in mainland France as well as overseas) were expected to be replaced as part of the BATSIMAR (Bâtiment de surveillance et d'intervention maritime) program. However, in late 2017, the Chief of the French Navy, Admiral Prazuck, decided to split the program: "I originally intended to replace the metropolitan patrol vessels and the overseas patrol vessels with the same class of ship. I can not do it. It would be too expensive, I am told [...] I propose to deploy overseas vessels two to three times cheaper, to have them faster. So I'm ready to trade specification levels for shorter lead times. I hope it will work. This will be one of the topics of the next inter-ministerial council of the sea. " said Admiral Prazuck during parliamentary public hearing in the Summer of 2017.

The two new programs are now known as PHM NG for the future OPVs to be based in mainland France and POM for the OPVs to be based overseas.

DGA Launched the RFI for Future French Navy OPVs to be Based Overseas 2 French patrol boat Arago (A795) at Toulon naval base in 2009. Arago will be replaced in Tahiti by one of the new POM OPVs. Picture: Rama

As explained in the RFI, the vessels will be based in:
- New Caledonia at Nouméa naval base (Pacific fleet), likely to replace the P400 type patrol vessels La Moqueuse and La Glorieuse.
- Reunion Island at Port Réunion naval base (Indian Ocean fleet), likely to replace the patrol vessel "Le Malin" (hull number P701). This ship was actually a longline fishing boat seized in 2004 by the French Navy following illicit fishing off Kerguelen Islands. From 2007 the boat is used in Toulon as a diver support vessel before being finally transformed in 2011 into an offshore patrol vessel. The vessel then rejoined the Indian Ocean fleet.
- French Polynesia at Fare Ute Papeete (Tahiti) naval base (Pacific fleet), to replace the Lapérouse-class patrol vessel Arago (hull number P675)

It is not clear where the two remaining OPVs would be based. Contacted by Navy Recognition, a French Navy PAO could not provide the information right away.

In december last year, the French Navy ordered an additional PLG (Patrouilleur Léger Guyanais or French Guyana-based Light Patrol Vessel) to be based in the French Antilles. These ships are dedicated to sovereignty missions and to protect French interests in the Antilles (French West Indies) and Guiana maritime area. Displacing 750 tonnes, the PLGs are able to accommodate 14 people (special forces for example) in addition to 24 crew members. With a length of 60 m and a width of 9.50 m, a draft less than 3.2 meters, the vessel are able to operate in shallow waters including the Kourou river. It appears that the future OPVs for the POM program will be slightly larger (and will have better sea keeping).

VSR700 VTOL UAV VSR700 full scale model at Paris Air Show 2017

The RFI calls for the a capacity to accommodate a 700 kg-class VTOL UAV. This is in line with the SDAM (Système de Drones Aériens de la Marine / Navy Airborne Drone System) program. SDAM entry into service is foreseen for the middle of the next decade on new Intermediate-Size Frigates (FTIs) and other French Navy ships. Airbus Helicopters and French shipbuilding group Naval Group joined forces for the program and are proposing the VSR700 VTOL UAV.

The VSR-700 is a light military rotary-wing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle derived from the Cabri G2, an existing civil certified 2-seater piston engine helicopter designed and manufactured by Hélicoptères Guimbal. The VSR700 will be capable of carrying a wide array of mission equipment thanks to a maximum payload capacity up to 250 kg.

To learn more about the VSR700, read our dedicated article at this link.


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