France and Italy award contracts to modernize Horizon-class frigates

During the Paris Air Show on 20 June, France and Italy representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the mid-life upgrade (MLU) of the four Horizon-class frigates of the French and Italian navies.

US Navy

Their modernization will be entrusted to Naviris, the 50/50 owned joint venture by Fincantieri and Naval Group and Eurosam, a consortium formed by MBDA and Thales. A formal contract will be signed in a few weeks, by Naviris, Eurosam and OCCAR, representing Italy and France.

This step follows a feasibility study phase, which was signed in 2020 by Naviris as prime contractor and OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation).

This study was the first stage of the project and it was mainly focused on the anti-aircraft defense system of the four vessels. It aimed at identifying and analyzing the modifications to be implemented on the French and Italian Horizon class Frigates to increase their capabilities until the end of their life cycle.

This cooperation will cover the overall modernization of the frigates, with a focus on the anti-aircraft defense system (including the radars, weapons and associated Control and Command), the platform and combat system, and the electronic warfare system that will be common to both Nations.

Naviris will work in close relationship with its co-contractor Eurosam, its parent companies Fincantieri and Naval Group, and its other industrial partners including Leonardo, Thales, MBDA and Sigen.

Naviris will be in charge of work on the combat system modernization (anti air warfare integration, new electronic warfare, new communication, new combat management system, upgrade and obsolescence treatment, new optronic) and also platform modernization (new ship management system, upgrade and obsolescence treatment), while Eurosam will modernize the anti-aircraft warfare chain (C2 PAAMS, new radars).

The Horizon-class figates were originally built between 2000 and 2010 in a joint program between Fincantieri and Naval Group. The 153-meter long vessels are designed for a range of missions, including high-intensity operations, all with reduced crewing. The ships’ chief capabilities are thus airspace control over areas of operations, air defense command and control and anti-air cover for carrier groups and convoys.