France Navy's Floreal class frigate Prairial transits Taiwan Strait - M5 Dergi
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France Navy’s Floreal class frigate Prairial transits Taiwan Strait

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The Taiwan Strait is a significant body of water that separates the island of Taiwan from mainland Asia. This 180-kilometer (110 mi; 97 nmi)-wide strait is a part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. The narrowest point of the Taiwan Strait is 130 km (81 mi; 70 nmi) wide.

However, the Taiwan Strait is not just a geographic feature but is also a subject of an ongoing international dispute over its political status. The People’s Republic of China claims to have “sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait” and considers it as “internal territorial waters” instead of international waters. This means that the Chinese government denies any foreign vessel the freedom of navigation to cross the strait without Chinese official consent.

This stance has drawn strong objections from various countries, including the United States, Australia, France, and Taiwan. These countries consider the Taiwan Strait as international waters, and all ships and aircraft should have the freedom of navigation and overflight in the strait.

Floreal class

This class of frigates has a displacement of 2,600 tonnes (2,600 long tons) and 3,000 tonnes (2,950 long tons) at full load. It measures 93.5 meters (306 ft 9 in) in length, 14 meters (45 ft 11 in) in beam, and 4.3 meters (14 ft 1 in) in draught.

The Floréal-class frigate is powered by four SEMT Pielstick 6 PA6 L280 BPC diesel engines, which deliver a total output of 6,580 kW (8,820 hp). The propulsion system consists of two shafts and a 203 kW (272 hp) bow thruster, providing the vessel with a maximum speed of 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) and a range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).

The Floréal-class frigate has a troop capacity of 24 marines and a complement of 90 personnel. Its sensor and processing systems include the DRBV-21C (Mars) air sentry radar, Racal Decca RM1290 navigation radar, and Racal Decca RM1290 landing radar, providing the crew with situational awareness and navigation capabilities.

The vessel is also equipped with an ARBG-1A Saïgon electronic warfare system and two Dagaie decoy systems, which serve as countermeasures against electronic threats and enemy missiles.

The Floréal-class frigate’s armament includes one 100 mm CADAM turret with Najir fire control system, two 20 mm modèle F2 guns, and previously, two Exocet MM38 missiles, which have been removed from service.

The vessel also has an aviation capability, with a flight deck and hangar capable of accommodating one Eurocopter Dauphin N3 helicopter. The Dauphin N3 replaced the Aérospatiale Alouette III in 2022 when the latter retired.

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