Meet Egypt’s FREMM Bergamini

Mohamed Al-Kenany

FREMM is originally a joint French-Italian project between Naval Group and Fincantieri to build a heavy multi-mission frigate, which is why it was called “FREMM”, short for “European multi-mission frigate” in French “Frégate Européenne Multi-Mission” and in Italian “Fregata Europea Multi-Missione”. This is a glimpse into the FREMM Bergamini Egypt has ordered recently.

The French class of this frigate is called Aquitaine, it has two variants; the FR‑ASW anti-submarine variant and the FR-AAW air defence variant. Egypt owns 1 FR‑ASW anti-submarine, and Morocco has 1 of the same variant.

The French class has a displacement of 6000 tons, a length of 142 meters, a draught of 7.6 meters, a maximum speed of 50 km / h, and a maximum range of 11,000 km, and can accommodate up to 145 individuals.

The Italian class is called Bergamini and has two variants; an IT-ASW anti-submarine variant, and an IT-GP general-purpose variant with enhanced capacity in air defence and surface warfare.

The Italian class has a displacement of 6,700 tons, a length of 144.6 meters, a draught of 8.7 meters, a top speed of 56 km / h, a maximum range of 12.6 thousand km, and a capacity of up to 200 people.

Egypt will obtain 2 of the general-purpose variant and plans to obtain 4 others later, the specifications of which have not been revealed yet.

The US Navy chose the Italian design for its future FFG(X) programme to build twenty FFG(X) guided-missile frigates.

The most significant features of the general-purpose variant that the Egyptian Navy will obtain:
  • The “KRONOS Grand Naval” radar, a multifunctional radar based on advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology, used as main radar for the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS). KRONOS Grand Naval applications include extended self-defence, air, and surface surveillance and simultaneous multiple targets tracking, volumetric search, and multiple missiles guidance. It enjoys a range of 300 km and the ability to track 300 targets simultaneously with the ability to direct long-range air defence missiles Aster-30. It can do multiple trackings in favor of 16 Aster missiles against heavy missile attacks. It is the most powerful radar that the FREMM has, more powerful than the radar of the French class.
  • This radar provides tremendous early warning capability and situational awareness to lead and direct various air and sea operations and provides enhanced cover and support for naval and aviation crossings in the absence of early warning and airborne control aircraft.
  • The highly developed Athena Combat Management System, which integrates all tasks required for survey and monitoring, tactical battle image management, navigation support, risk assessment and weapons missions, weapons systems management, mission planning, multiple tactical data links, and training. This is done through its control over all radars, electro-optical / thermal sensors, sonar, armament, and combat systems, to manage operations, command and control work, and coordinate with the rest of the navy and all friendly combat platforms.
  • A superior air defence capability granted by 16 Vertical Launch System VLS cells that are equipped with the following missiles:
  1. Aster-15 medium-range missiles with a range of 30 km to counter all air threats, including air missiles and cruise missiles, or those with supersonic velocities (the Egyptian frame is equipped with them).
  2. Aster-30 long-range missiles with a range of +120 km, which can counter all air threats and intercept ballistic missiles fired from a distance of 1500 km.
  • The frigate also has a 76 mm rear gun, which is part of the STRALES / DART system, which consists of a cannon and a monitoring and tracking system in addition to DART radio wave guided missiles that address air threats such as anti-ship missiles as well as marine threats such as fast floats, and the range of these missiles is +8 km and has an initial speed at the launch of 3960 km / h.
  • Enhanced ability to fight against surface ships is granted by the 127 mm OTO 127/64 front main gun with a rate of 32 shells/minute. Its range of fire reaches +30 km. The range can be increased by using “Vulcano” ammunition with their unguided versions that have a range of up to 60 km and direction with a range of 80 km and +100 km.

The main surface-to-surface missions are armed with 8 Otomat MK2 Block IV mobile anti-ship surface-to-surface missiles with the ability to hit land targets near the coast, with a range of 200 km, and possesses an inertial navigation system, a satellite, and an active radar. There’s also the data link to adjust and control the trajectory. The Otomat is best known for combining the advantages of the great range of accuracy and the sea-skimming flight (estimated at 1-2 meters above sea level) for the French Exocet missile and the heavy warhead as in the American Harpoon 210 kJ versus 221 kJ for the Harpoon and 165 kJ for Exocet) in addition to that it has the highest subsonic speed among all anti-ship cruise missiles of the same class (1100 km / h). The frigate also has two 25mm remote-controlled cannons to counter fast approaching threats.

  • The two frigates that the Egyptian Navy will acquire, which were assigned to the Italian Navy (numbers 9, and 10 in the Italian Frim frigates fleet; the Italian Navy currently has 8 frigates) are distinguished by having an improved system for launching deceptive decoys that deceive anti-ship missiles. The launcher, which has 20 decoys instead of 15, is used not only against missiles but also against torpedoes fired from submarines to provide integrated protection against all threats from the air, the surface, and the depths.
  • These two frigates also have a new Damage Control System and a new radar with a technology that reduces the chances of exposure to detection. Model SPS-732 instead of the previous radar RAN30X / I RASS, which is effective in air and maritime monitoring tasks, especially small-sized targets, which gives it the ability to monitor Missiles flying in a path almost close to the sea surface Finally, a new array of IFF Sensors is more effective than its predecessor.
  • Although the general-purpose variant is not specialised in fighting submarines, as it does not have a Towed Variable Depth Sonar VDS, it does have a front low-frequency sonar under the front, a Thales UMS 4110 CL that provides long-range detection ability of the surrounding field, as well as dealing with submarines, and directing 324 mm MU90 torpedoes fired from two triple launchers on both sides of the frigate. There is also a sonar dedicated to monitoring marine mines.
FREMM Bergamini

It is considered to be the best and most capable of providing the main air defense and protection missions for the Mistral carriers, together with future MEKO frigates and Gowind corvettes.

FREMM Bergamini is a command and control center, with early warning and naval control capable of directing all operations and linking with various air, sea, and land platforms. It provides enhanced capability in combat missions against surface ships.

The FREMM Bergamini with enhanced air defense capabilities and the French Frem Aquitaine (ENS Tahya Misr) and the Gowind corvettes with enhanced anti-submarine capabilities and future MEKO frigates, all represent a striking surface force that only NATO navies have, and if combined with Air Force aviation, especially the Rafale and Falcon (and in the future Typhoon if a contract is signed), then we are talking about an unparalleled air-to-sea attack and deterrence force in the eastern Mediterranean, which is also available only to NATO armies.


 Translated from Arabic to English by the «New Defence Order. Strategy» journal 

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