PARIS, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- France's leader in naval defense systems, DCNS, has won a contract to provide through-life support services for the French navy's Lafayette-class frigates.
The contract is worth $80 million and provides for a maintenance agreement from 2011-15. The through-life support will be provided at Toulon naval base for five Lafayette frigate-class vessels.
The Lafayette is a second-line, multi-mission stealth frigate of the French navy. It can carry a crew of 153 and is armed with a 100mm cannon and two 20mm guns, Exocet MM-40 anti-ship missiles and short-range Crotale anti-air missiles.
The contract is understood to go into effect in the coming months when one of the frigates, the Surcouf, will be on track for a scheduled refit.
The Surcouf will be the first to undergo an overhaul at the end of March, DCNS said in a statement.
"This TLS contract for La Fayette-class frigates highlights our prime customer's confidence in DCNS," said Thierry Kalanquin, director of services at DCNS. "Through-life support for this class of warship calls for resources and expertise in areas where DCNS fully meets the navy's needs. We are indeed proud to contribute to the French fleet's availability."
In winning the contract, DCNS won over French companies STX France and CNNMO, according to local reports.
The contract was announced as the company took pride in India's yearly production of submarines as a result of high technology transfer from DCNS.
DCNS is already executing India's biggest submarine building program for six diesel-electric Scorpene submarines.
The delivery of the advanced combat systems for the first submarine is expected to be completed soon and the submarine launched in 2014.
DCNS has been very keen to cooperate with Indian companies, private and public, in manufacturing indigenous capabilities. It is also vying to invest in the defense sector in India for building ships and submarines.
Company officials anticipate what they call staggering growth in the number of submarines in Asia in the next decade. They also forecast robust defense opportunities in Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf.
In its contract with the French navy, DCNS is expected to assign an area of shipyard and 40 specialist staff. That will lead to 150 personnel in peak periods of activity, a company spokesman told the Defense News Web site.
It said the also deal included 18 intermediate services while DCNS will be able to work on one ship in dry cock and one ship moored at the quayside.
French navy officials said recently that the readiness rate of surface ships and submarines had increased to 73 percent on average, compared to less than 60 percent 15 years ago.
DCNS has also built an anti-submarine warfare version for Taiwan and an anti-air version for Saudi Arabia.