FS Cassard (D614)
Air Defense Destroyer / Guided-Missile Frigate
FS Cassard D614 heads the two-strong group of air defense destroyers serving the modern French Navy.
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The Cassard-class (Type F70 AA) is a two-strong group of surface combatants serving the modern French navy today (2018). The warships utilize the same hull design and general construction of the Georges Leygues-class of destroyers but are instead outfitted to serve in the Anti-Aircraft (AA) / airspace denial role instead of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role. The two ships of the class are differentiated primarily through their armament and machinery schemes and continue in active service as of this writing (2018).
FS Cassard (D614) is the lead ship-of-the-class with FS Jean Bart (D615) being her only sister. FS Courbet (D616) and D617 (unnamed) were cancelled. Cassard, named after the 18th Century French Captain Jacques Cassard, was laid down on September 3rd, 1982 by shipbuilder DCNS S.A. and launched to sea on February 6th, 1985. She was formally commissioned on July 29th, 1988.
Cassard displaces 4,500 tons and has an overall length of 456 feet, a beam of 46 feet and a draught of 20 feet. The vessels are considered destroyers in some circles and frigates in others. Power is from 4 x Pielstick PA6 BTC diesel engines coupled with 4 x Diesel alternators which allows the vessel to reach speeds of 25 knots out to ranges of 8,000 nautical miles.
Aboard is a complement of approximately 244 personnel made up of officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted (special forces detachments are also accommodated as needed). The warship is outfitted with a bevy of systems to help search, track and engage aerial threats at range. Weapons include a single Mk 13 launcher for forty SM-1MR AA missiles, twin Sadral sextuple "Mistral" AA missile launchers, 2 x 20mm F2 series AA guns and 1 x 100mm /55 caliber Mod 68 Dual-Purpose turreted deck guns. For extreme close-in work, there are up to 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns. The warship is also outfitted with 8 x MM40 "Exocet" anti-ship missiles to combat surface threats at range and 2 x torpedo tubes for dealing with surface and undersea threats at range (10 reloads carried).
The ship's profile is conventional with the sole turret seated at the rear of the forecastle. The bridge section is immediately behind and above this area and carries the primary mastworks as part of the forward superstructure. An aft superstructure carries other pertinent systems and weapons while, at the extreme rear of the vessel, is a helipad for the launching and retrieval of a single navy helicopter (typically the AS565 "Panther" medium-lift design is operated).
As an Air Defense Destroyer, the warship is called upon to deny airspaces of importance, usually in defending key strategic waterways, hubs or the main fleet. She took part in Operation Griffin Strike in April of 2016 that saw the French fleet undertake joint exercises with the British fleet.