Six Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarines are to be built for the French Navy. The Barracuda Class is being introduced to replace the existing force of the four SSN Rubis submarines which entered service from 1983 to 1988 and the two SSN Amethyste Class submarines which entered service in 1992 and 1993.
The Barracuda missions include anti-surface and fast deep anti-submarine warfare, land attack using stealthy long-range cruise missiles, surveillance and intelligence gathering, crisis management and special operations.
The Barracuda submarine is a key element in the FOST (Force Océanique Stratégique) Navy Command of the French Strategic Nuclear Forces and the Marine Nationale 2015 Navy Model which defines the naval force requirements for 2015.
Barracuda attack submarine programme
In 1998 the French Ministry of Defence put in place the Barracuda integrated project team (BIPT) with team members Délégation Générale pour l’Armament (DGA); DCN, with responsibility as the platform design authority and ship building prime contractor; Technicatome, which has responsibility for the nuclear power system; and the Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique (CEA), the French nuclear regulatory authority.
The feasibility study for the Barracuda Class was successfully completed in 2002 and the programme entered the design definition phase in late 2002.
The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded DCN and Areva TA (prime contractor for the nuclear power plant) the contract for the design, development and production of the first of class vessel, with options on the remaining five, in December 2006. The first submarine is scheduled to enter service in 2017 with the remainder at two yearly intervals to 2027.
The first-of-class submarine will be called Suffren. The other hulls will be Duguay-Trouin, Dupetit-Thouars, Duquesne, Tourville and De Grasse. First steel for Suffren was cut in December 2007 at DCNS Cherbourg.
Barracuda nuclear submarine design
The Barracuda will have a displacement of about 4,100t surfaced, which is an increase of 70% compared to the Amethyste Class submarines. The maximum speed will be 25kt and the diving depth more than 350m.
The high level of automation integrated into the submarine’s operational and mission systems will allow the submarine a complement of 60 (in two crews) compared to 78 in the Rubis and Amethyst Classes. The operational cost will be reduced by 30% compared to that of the Rubis Class.
The Barracuda incorporates a range of diving, safety and damage control technologies and an integrated platform management system (IPMS). Many of the technologies developed by DCN for the Le Triomphant Class and by Izar and DCN for the Agosta and Scorpene Classes are being integrated into the design of the Barracuda.
The ship design incorporates a range of stealth technologies to minimise the acoustic, magnetic, radar and visual signatures. The Barracuda provides a high silent running speed and manoeuvrability for the anti-submarine role.
EADS Astrium is supplying the life support system for the submarine, which will be based on the carbon dioxide regenerative technology Astrium has developed for human spaceflight.
Command and control
The SYCOBS (système de combat pour Barracuda et SSBN) the battle management system is being developed by DCN and Thales.
SYCOBS will also be fitted on the final SSBN submarine, Le Terrible, being built for the French Navy.
The combat system integrates active and passive sensors, electronic, optronic and optical sensors and data processing, signal processing of downloaded external tactical data, the launch and control of torpedoes, missiles and countermeasures, external communications and navigation. The communications suite includes satellite and extra-long-frequency acoustic links.
Sagem Défense Sécurité has been contracted to supply the DAS surface detection system which comprises one radar mast and two optronic masts and integrates a passive electromagnetic detection sensor.
Thales provides the entire sonar suite among other systems:
- MOAS (avoidance sonar)
- Sonar bays
- Interception antenna
- Satellite communication
- Electronic warfare / interceptor systems
- Radio communications
- Multi sensor monitoring
- Flank antennas
- Underwater phone
- Cylindrical antenna
Safran provides the optronic masts and navigation system:
- Serie 30 SOM (surveillance mast)
- Serie 30 AOM (attack mast)
- Serie 10 CSR (radar)
- SIGMA40 XP INS
The mats incorporate advanced image processing, and their sensors and treatments can be upgraded.
Barracuda SSN will perform the current missions of nuclear attack submarines effectively:
- support to deterrence (protection of SSBN);
- control of air and maritime space (security of area);
- escort key ships (aircraft carriers);
- perform discreet intelligence gathering.
Barracuda SSN will also carry out new missions:
- sea-to-land warfare (precision deep strike);
- deployment and support of special forces.
The submarine has four 533mm torpedo tubes with water ram weapon discharge and accommodates 18 torpedo and missiles in a mixed load.
F21 Artemis torpedo
The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) awarded the 420 million Euro development, integration and procurement contract to DCNS on April 2, 2008. The contract included the procurement of 100 torpedoes and a six-year maintenance, logistics support and crew training contract. Besides, the contract establishes options to equip additional submarines with new procurement torpedoes. Production of the next generation torpedo will be carried out by DCNS and Italian company WASS (Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei), while Thales Underwater Systems (TUS) will manufacture the acoustic homing head. Source deagel.com
The submarine will carry new heavyweight torpedoes. The Barracuda will be capable of deploying the Black Shark torpedo developed by DCN and WASS (Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subaquei). Black Shark is a dual-purpose, wire-guided torpedo which is fitted with Astra active / passive acoustic head and a multi-target guidance and control unit incorporating a counter-countermeasures system.
Black Shark torpedo
It has been designed to oppose the technologically most modern threats whether surface or underwater targets. It is a wire-guided torpedo by means of a fiber optic wire through which the launching means remains in communication to transmit and receive the necessary data for the mission success.
The heavyweight torpedo Black Shark is about 6 meters long (the length changes according to its configuration, whether exercise or service), its diameter is about 533 mm, it is very noiseless and can work in self-guidance mode during the last step of the mission.
In its most innovative version it is equipped with the new Lithium-Polymers battery. Source leonardocompany.com
The Barracuda’s anti-surface missile is an upgraded version of the SM39 Exocet missile which is launched from the torpedo tube. The Exocet, armed with a 165kg warhead, uses inertial cruise guidance and active radar homing in the terminal phase of flight. The missile travels at high subsonic speed, Mach 0.9, to a target range of 50km.
SM39 Exocet missile
Exocet SM39 is the submarine-launched version of the Exocet family. It features all weather capability, sea skimming flight, solid propellant and a high kill warhead.
The missile has a range of 50 km, which enables the submarine to go into action while remaining out of enemy detection and weapon range. Flexibility and versatility are provided thanks to the system’s large launch envelope.
Housed in a water-tight, highly resistant, propelled and guided underwater vehicle, the aerial missile is ejected as soon as it breaks the surface, to ensure a very low culmination altitude. It then rapidly homes into the target at sea skimming level: it uses an inertial navigation system followed by autonomous terminal guidance from an active RF seeker. Source mbda-systems.com
|Type: Guided Weapon||Weight: 670.0 kg|
|Length: 4.7 m||Span: 1.1 m|
|Diameter: 0.35||Generation: None|
|Properties: Home On Jam (HOJ), Terrain Following, Search Pattern, Bearing-Only Launch (BOL), Weapon – INS Navigation, Level Cruise Flight|
|Targets: Surface Vessel|
|Sensors / EW:|
|Active Radar Seeker – (ASM MR, Exocet Blk II/III, ADAC Mk2) Radar
Weapon Seeker, Active Radar
Max Range: 9.3 km
|Passive Radar Seeker – (Exocet Blk II/III) ESM
Weapon Seeker, Anti-Radiation
Max Range: 18.5 km
|SM.39 Exocet Blk II – (1995) Guided Weapon
Surface Max: 51.9 km.
The new naval land-attack cruise missile, Naval Scalp, developed by MBDA, can be fired from Nato-standard 533mm torpedo tubes. Naval Scalp will enter service in 2012. The missile is derived from the Scalp EG and Storm Shadow air-launched missile.
The missile has long-range precision attack capability against targets at ranges up to 1,000km. Scalp has inertial guidance which is continuously updated in flight with digital terrain matching and GPS (global positioning system). An imaging infrared seeker and automatic target recognition provide terminal guidance.
The Scalp Naval version has a longer body than the air-launch version and the wings are extended from within the missile body after launch rather than being externally mounted. The missile is being developed for both submarine torpedo-tube ejection and surface ship vertical launch.
MdCN- NCM provides a unique operational capability with long range metric precision strike against politically / military sensitive targets.
MdCN- NCM is vertically launched from France’s FREMM frigates using the compact A70 SYLVER vertical launcher which is also capable of housing other MBDA missiles such as the ASTER family of air defence missiles.
On France’s future Barracuda nuclear-powered attack submarines, MdCN- NCM will be launched through the torpedo tubes. Source mbda-systems.com
|Type: Guided Weapon||Weight: 1400.0 kg|
|Length: 6.5 m||Span: 3.0 m|
|Diameter: 0.63||Generation: None|
|Properties: Terrain Following, Weapon – INS w/ GPS Navigation, Weapon – Pre-Briefed Target Only, Level Cruise Flight|
|Targets: Land Structure – Soft, Land Structure – Hardened, Runway, Mobile Target – Soft, Mobile Target – Hardened|
|Sensors / EW:|
|IIR Seeker – (Scalp EG, Storm Shadow, Fixed and Mobile) Infrared
Weapon Seeker, Imaging IR
Max Range: 18.5 km
|MdCN [Naval SCALP EG] – (2017, Submarine) Guided Weapon
Land Max: 1018.6 km.
Unmanned underwater vehicles
The Barracuda will be configured to enable a future back-fitting of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), although there are no current operational requirements for the installation of a UUV.
The class will also be able to accommodate mines or carry 12 commandos, whose equipment can be carried in a mobile pod attached aft of the sail. One key unanswered question will be the type’s ability to launch and retrieve UUV robots, beyond options that can be launched and recovered via torpedo tube. Source defenseindustrydaily.com
Thales Underwater Systems has been selected as prime contractor for the sonar suite. The submarine is fitted with bow sonar wide-aperture flank sonar and towed sonar arrays.
UMS 3000 Bow – Hull Sonar, Active/Passive
|Type: Hull Sonar, Active/Passive||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 74.1 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Late 2010s|
|Sensors / EW:|
|UMS 3000 Bow – Hull Sonar, Active/Passive
Role: Hull Sonar, Active/Passive Search & Track
Max Range: 74.1 km
UMS 3000 Flank – Hull Sonar, Passive-Only
|Type: Hull Sonar, Passive-Only||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 129.6 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Late 2010s|
|Sensors / EW:|
|UMS 3000 Flank – Hull Sonar, Passive-Only
Role: Hull Sonar, Passive-Only Ranging Flank Array Search & Track
Max Range: 129.6 km
SEACLEAR Mine & Obstacle Avoidance
|Type: Hull Sonar, Active-Only||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 1.9 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0 km||Generation: Early 2010s|
|Properties: Classification [Class Info] / Brilliant Weapon [Automatic Target Aquisition], Shallow Water Capable (Full) [Classification Flag Required]|
|Sensors / EW:|
|SEACLEAR – Hull Sonar, Active-Only
Role: Hull Sonar, Active-Only Shallow Water High-Definition Mine & Obstacle Avoidance
Max Range: 1.9 km
VELOX-M8 – Acoustic Intercept (Active Sonar Warning)
The VELOX-M8, broadband sonar interceptor, fulfils the automatic detection needs of single or multiple pulse acoustic signals. This equipment is specifically intended for threat detection first alert operations and for submarine surfacing lookout operations. Essential complement of the main sonar, the VELOX-M8 basic version has a broadband digital connection (100 Mbit/s) allowing it to be fully integrated into a combat system.
Thales Underwater Systems has placed a contract on the Centre for Submarine Technology, a division of the UK MoD QinetiQ organisation, to carry out a feasibility study on the deployment of reelable thin line towed sonar arrays for the Barracuda class.
Barracuda nuclear propulsion system
The nuclear propulsion system is a new hybrid design providing electric propulsion for economical cruise speeds and turbo-mechanical propulsion for higher speeds. The power plant will be based on technologies developed for the 150MW K15 pressure water reactor installed in the Triomphant Class submarine and the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.
Thermodyn of Le Creusot has been selected to provide the two turbo-generators and one propulsion turbine for each vessel.
Main material source naval-technology.com
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Main image Marine Nationale
Updated Nov 08, 2020