French La Fayette Class Frigate F 710 La Fayette

The French Navy's La Fayette Class multipurpose stealth frigates were developed by DCN International (now DCNS) and built at the DCN Lorient Naval Dockyard.


The French Navy awarded DCN the contracts to construct the La Fayette (F710), Surcoef (F711) and Courbet (F712) frigates in 1988, and Aconit (F713) and Guepratte (F714) in 1992.



Derivative of the type are in service in Saudi Arabia, Singapore (Republic of Singapore Navy) and Republic of China (Taiwan) (Republic of China Navy).

These frigates were referred to as "stealth" frigates. Their reduced radar cross section is achieved by a very clean superstructure compared to conventional designs, angled sides and radar absorbent material, a composite material of wood and glass fibre as hard as steel, light, and resistant to fire. Most modern fighting ships built around the world since the introduction of the La Fayette have followed the same principles of stealth.

All information gathered by the onboard sensors is managed by the Information Processing System, the electronic brain of the operation centre of the ship. It is completed by an electronic command aid system.

The La Fayette has space available for the future installation of the Aster 15 missile, the state-of-the-art anti-air European weapon, and currently carries the Crotale short-range defence system, and Exocet missile, mounted in two quad launchers.

The ship's main gun on the bow deck is the DCNS 100mm which fires a 13.5kg shell to a range of 16km.

The ships are designed to accommodate a 10 tonne helicopter in the Panther or NH90 range (though they are also capable of operating the Super Frelon and similar heavy helicopters). These helicopters can carry anti-ship AM39 or AS15 missiles, and can be launched during sea state 5 or 6 due to the Samahé helicopter handling system.

France ordered five ships of the La Fayette class in 1988, the last of which entered service in 2002.

LA FAYETTE CLASS Specifications
Country of Manufacture France
Number in Service 5
Crew 12 officers and 129 other rates
Armament 1 x 100 TR gun, Crotale SAM, 16 x Aster 15 SAM, 8 x Exocet MM40 SSM, 1 x NH90 helicopter
Length 125m
Beam 15.4m
Draught 4.1m
Displacement 3,600 tonnes
Powerplant 4 x diesel SEMT Pielstick 12PA6V280 STC2, 21,000hp
Performance Max speed 25 knots – range 13,000kms (7,000nm) at 12 knots
First of Class 1992