Last November, the French Navy received the first of six Suffren-class or Barracuda nuclear assault submarines (SSN) from Naval Group to replace Cold War-era Rubis-class submarines. The submarine is scheduled to enter service with the French Navy in late 2021.
Six Suffren Class submarines will comprise the French Navy’s backbone. They will succeed the Rubis Class of the first generation (later called AMETHYSTE after upgrade). The Suffren class was designed as part of the Barracuda program and is named after the lead boat, commissioned in November 2020.
Suffren is the class’s first vessel, which will be replaced by subsequent ships in the course. Numerous characteristics, such as improved pump-jet propulsion, are derived from the French Navy’s Triomphant class nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
According to the French government, the 6-submarine program’s overall budget is roughly $10.2 billion. When compared to submarines built by other nations, the pricing is reasonable. Suffren is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system and a pressurized water reactor adapted from the nuclear boilers of the Le Triomphant-class SSBNs and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carriers. It also features two propulsion turbines, two turbine generators, and two electric motors.
When submerged, the vessels of this class will have a displacement of 5,300 tons and a length of 99.5 meters. Thus, they have a displacement of more than double that at 5,300 tons (versus 2,700). The Suffren is a compact submarine that incorporates many cutting-edge technologies into a relatively small hull. The sub can dive to depths of more than 300 meters at a speed of 25+ knots (~46 km/h). Its range is nearly limitless due to its nuclear propulsion
Ten times more detection Capability and extremely stealthy
Instead of a standard periscope mast, it features an integrated sensor system with a high-definition camera and a laser rangefinder. As a result, it will feature significantly improved sensors and is expected to have tenfold the detection capability of the Amethyst class.
Naval Group claims the new Barracuda class as being extremely stealthy. The submarine’s low profile ensures that it will be difficult to detect, allowing it to approach opposing submarines and warships stealthily. Admiral Christophe Prazuck, present at Suffren’s launch ceremony, highlighted this point, saying, “This is not a patrolling submarine; this is a hunter.”
The Barracuda class is longer and wider and displaces nearly twice as much when submerged than the Rubis class. Suffren is significantly larger than the preceding Amethyste class. This added internal space would be used to carry more weapons. Barracuda class has four 533mm torpedo tubes, which are the same as Amethyste class, but it will have 20 storage racks for four more torpedoes. Several different kinds of weapons can be accommodated in the submarines of this class.
For land attack, It is equipped to fire the Storm Shadow, an Anglo-French built and designed cruise missile with some stealth features, making it hard to detect. The missile’s specialized French variant, called SCALP EG, has a range of about 1,000 kilometers, or just under 625 miles, and can be fired by the Barracuda class. The prolonged strike envelop enables the submarine to hit targets from a standoff distance. In addition, it will deliver a global first-night strategic strike capability. This will reach deep inside enemy territory, a capability few other navies will have. This is generally equivalent to the Tomahawk.
For the Anti Ship role, Exocet SM39 is available, which is the submarine-launched version of the Exocet family. MBDA manufactures the torpedo tube-launched Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile. It features all-weather capability, sea-skimming flight, solid propellant, and a high kill warhead. The missile ranges 50 km or 31 miles, enabling the submarine to go into action while remaining out of enemy detection and weapon range. In addition, flexibility and versatility are provided thanks to the system’s large launch envelope.
F21 Artemis heavy torpedoes neutralize enemy ships and submarines. It is more agile, faster, more intelligent than the F17 it is replacing. The F21 torpedo is the only new heavy torpedo development in the world. Its characteristics are thought to be significantly superior to all other heavy torpedoes currently in service. It has a speed of over 50 knots. It can reach targets over 27 nautical miles (50 km) away and move to a depth of 600 m.
UUVs (uncrewed underwater vehicles) the size of torpedos may also be carried in the future. Again, the new D-19 model from Naval Group may be a good fit. Small UUVs are capable of performing a broad variety of operations, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare (EW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures (MCM), and mine warfare. Additionally, the Barracuda class can transport a small squad of twelve special operations forces.
The Barracuda class submarines represent a significant step forward for France’s submarine fleet modernization. Naval Group anticipates delivering three further submarines by 2025, followed by the final two in 2030. In addition, the French Navy will begin phasing out the 6 Rubis class submarines with the advent of the Barracuda class. However, French authorities anticipate that the Barracuda class will remain in service until the 2060s, and these six submarines will undoubtedly be a significant component of the country’s future submarine capabilities.
Most significantly, the French naval power could engage vital objectives deep within the land from a distance of 1000 kilometers by submarine. This capability might be considered to have enhanced the French Navy’s deterrent capability and firepower.
Check out Naval Library App to find out more about the specifications of the Barracuda-class subs.