May 12, 2011: France has begun sea trials of its first FREMM (Frégate Européen Multi-Mission) frigate, the Aquitaine. The FREMM is a joint France-Italy project. Seven FREMMs are under construction. France plans to eventually buy eleven, and Italy ten. Morocco has ordered one (from France). Algeria and Greece were going to buy up to six each, but later backed out of the deal. Italian construction is about a year behind the French. Each FREMM frigate costs about a billion dollars.
The 6,000 ton FREMMs are 142 meters (440 feet) long. Top speed is 50 kilometers an hour and range is 11,000 kilometers. The ships are highly automated, with a crew of only 108 sailors. Equipment and weapons varies a bit as each nation prefers to arm the vessels with locally produced stuff. But typical armament is half a dozen Mu-90 torpedoes, eight Otomat Mk2A anti-ship missiles and Aster anti-aircraft missiles. There is one 76mm gun, two 25mm autocannon and two EH101 helicopters. The Italian FREMMs are equipped with towed sonar, so that they can specialize in anti-submarine operations. France also plans to produce two or more FREMM that are optimized for air defense.