Horizon class frigate

Horizon class frigate

The Horizon Common New Generation Frigate (CNGF) is a multi-national collaboration to produce a new generation of anti-air warfare frigates. Originally an alliance of Britain, France and Italy, the project is now a French/Italian effort following the withdrawal of Britain due to differing requirements. It is named Orizzonte in Italian and Horizon in French.


France, Italy and the UK issued a joint requirement in 1992 after the failure of the NATO Frigate Replacement (NFR-90) project. The resulting CNGF program consisted of the "Horizon" frigate and its Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS).

Problems emerged almost immediately: the primary problem was that of differing requirements: France wanted Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) escorts for its aircraft carriers, but only a limited range was necessary due to the self-defence capability of the "Charles De Gaulle". Italy too required only close range capabilities, as in its home waters of the Mediterranean Sea the ships would operate under Italian Air Force cover or escorts for its aircraft carrier "Cavour". The Royal Navy, however, required more capable ships which could throw a large defensive "bubble" over a fleet operating in hostile areas. The compromise which largely solved this problem was the adoption of a standard radar interface which allowed France and Italy to install the EMPAR multi-function radar and the UK to install the more capable SAMPSON radar - the SAMPSON radar has a higher data rate and adaptive beam forming allows a greater multi-tracking capability, long-range detection of low-RCS targets, a lower false-alarm rate, and overall higher tracking accuracy. [cite journal |last=Dranidis |first=Dimitris V.|year=2003 |month=May |title=Backboards of the fleet: shipboard phased-array radars; a survey of requirements, technologies, and operational systems |journal=Journal of Electronic Defense|volume= 26|issue=5 |pages=55 |accessdate= 2007-08-18 |quote= ]

1995 saw the establishment of an International Joint Venture Company (IJVC) comprising the national prime contractors, DCN (France,) GEC-Marconi (UK) and Orizzonte (Italy). In the period 1995-1996 significant arguments, changing requirements and technological problems led to the slippage of the in-service-date of the frigates to around 2006.

In early 1997 a disagreement emerged as to the choice of Vertical Launch System (VLS) for the PAAMS' MBDA Aster missiles. France and Italy favoured their own SYLVER launcher, while the UK was leaning toward the American Mk 41 - capable of firing the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. This issue was eventually resolved when the SYLVER launcher was selected by the PAAMS development team.

The second batch of 4 ship, 2 for France and 2 Italy, will not be built for budget problems.

UK withdrawal

On 26 April 1999 the UK announced that it was withdrawing from the CNGF project to pursue its own national design. The "Financial Times" summarised the main disagreements between the partner countries; the UK wanted a large frigate which could patrol large areas such as the Atlantic, compared to France's desire for smaller aircraft carrier escorts and Italy's intention to use them in the Mediterranean; Secondly the UK wanted the ships with a wide-area defence capability, able to protect large numbers of ships rather than just protection from missiles targeted in the frigate's general direction; Finally the UK's desire to see Marconi appointed as prime contractor was accepted by France, but only in return for DCN being given the role as prime contractor for the combat management system. The UK, which wished to see a BAE-led consortium given this role, would not accept this. [cite news|first=Alexander |last=Nicoll|title= National differences scupper frigate project|work= Financial Times |date=1999-04-27 |accessdate=2007-07-30]

Summing up the changes from the original specification the UK's Chief of Defence Procurement is reported to have said "it's not common and it's not a frigate!". The resulting Type 45 destroyer is armed with the PAAMS missile system and has benefited from investment in the "Horizon" project.

Franco-Italian project

France and Italy have continued their collaboration under the "Horizon" project, ordering two ships each which will also deploy the PAAMS missile system. The first ship of the series, the French "Forbin", was launched on 10 March 2005.

The French Navy has ordered two units ("Forbin" and "Chevalier Paul"). Two more units were to be ordered later to replace the "Cassard" class frigates, but the plan was replaced by two anti-air FREMM multipurpose frigates.

The Marina Militare also ordered two units, "Andrea Doria" and "Caio Duilio", to replace "Audace" and "Ardito".

"Andrea Doria "was commissioned on December 22, 2007 and received the flag of the Navy. Full operation capability (FOC) is expected for the summer of 2008.

France and Italy have launched a new generation of multimission ships, the FREMM multipurpose frigates, using the same company structure as the Horizon project.

See also

*European defence procurement


External links

* [http://www.defense.gouv.fr/sites/marine/decouverte/materiels/en_prevision/fregates_multimissions/fregates_type_horizon/ Frégates type Horizon] - Marine Nationale link to PDF file with specifications and pictures including construction
* [http://www.marina.difesa.it/programmi/programmi02.htm Programma Orizzonte] - Marina Militare specifications and pictures
* [http://digilander.libero.it/en_mezzi_militari/html/en_andrea_doria.html Specification, hystory and photo of Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio]


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