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Horizon-class frigate
Caio Duilio D554.jpg
Italian frigate Caio Duilio (D554)
Class overview
Name: Horizon
Builders: Horizon Sas (DCN, Thales, Fincantieri, Finmeccanica)
Operators:  Marina Militare
 French Navy
Preceded by: Suffren-class frigate (France)
Audace-class destroyer (Italy)
Cost: €1,080m[1]FY 2009 (~US$1,500m)
In service: 2008
In commission: 2007
Planned: 8
Completed: 4
Cancelled: 4
Active: 4
General characteristics
Type: Frigate
Displacement: 7,050 t (6,940 long tons; 7,770 short tons), full displacement[2]
Length: 152.87 m
Beam: 20.3 m
Draught: 5.4 m
  • Two 31,280 hp GE/Avio General Electric LM2500 gas turbines
  • Two 5,875 hp SEMT Pielstick 12 PA6 STC diesels
Speed: In excess of 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)[3]
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km) at 18 kn (33 km/h)
3,500 nmi (6,480 km) at 25 knots (46 km/h)
Complement: 180
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • EMPAR Phased Array G band multi-purpose radar
  • S1850M long range radar
  • Thales UMS 4110 CL sonar

Anti-air missiles:
PAAMS air-defence system.
A 48-cell A50 Sylver Vertical Launching System for a mix of up-to 48×:
Aster 15 missiles (range 1.7–30 km)
Aster 30 missiles (range 3–120 km)

Anti-ship missiles:
Exocet MM40 (France)
TESEO Mk-2/A (Italy)

Guns & CIWS:
Otobreda 76 mm Super Rapid guns(France)
3× Otobreda 76mm Super Rapid guns (Italy)
1× Sadral Mistral CIWS (France)[4][5]
20 mm modèle F2 guns or 2× KBA Oerlikon 25/80 mm guns

Anti-submarine warfare:
MU90 Impact double torpedo tubes

2× SLAT anti torpedo system
Aircraft carried: 1 maritime helicopter
Aviation facilities:
  • Flight deck
  • Hangar

The Horizon-class are a class of highly sophisticated air-defence destroyers in service with the French Navy and Italian Navy. The programme started off as the Common New Generation Frigate (CNGF), a multi-national collaboration to produce a new generation of air-defence destroyers. In Italy the class is known as the Orizzonte-class, which translates to Horizon in French and English. The project originally included the United Kingdom, France and Italy,[6] however due to differing requirements from the Royal Navy for a larger ship, the United Kingdom proceed to develop the Type 45 destroyer instead.[7]

The FREMM multipurpose frigate are currently under construction using the same company structure as the Horizon project.


France, Italy and the UK issued a joint requirement in 1992 after the failure of the NATO Frigate Replacement for the 90s (NFR-90) project. The resulting CNGF programme 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-aircraft 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 (550). 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 an adaptive beam that allows a greater ability to track multiple targets, long-range detection of low-RCS targets, a lower false-alarm rate, and overall higher tracking accuracy.[8]

An international joint venture company (IJVC) was established in 1995 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 Launching 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.

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 destroyer 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.[9]

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 continued their collaboration under the Horizon project, ordering two ships each which deploy the PAAMS missile system. The Marina Militare ordered two units, Andrea_Doria (D553) and Caio Duilio (D554), to replace the Audace-class destroyers. Andrea Doria was accepted on 22 December 2007 and received the flag of the Italian Navy. Full operation capability was achieved in the summer of 2008. The French Navy ordered two units, the Forbin (D620) and the Chevalier Paul (D621) to replace the Suffren-class carrier escorts. The project cost France €2.16bn (~US$3bn) at 2009 prices.[1] A further two Horizons were cancelled; instead the two Cassard-class frigates were to be replaced by the FREDA air-defence variant of the Franco-Italian FREMM multipurpose frigate. However these plans were put in doubt by the 2013 French White Paper on Defence and National Security. France has bought 40 Aster 15 and 80 Aster 30 for their ships.[1]

Ships of the class

Name Pennant number Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned
French Navy
Forbin D620 DCN Lorient 4 April 2002 10 March 2005 December 2008
Chevalier Paul D621 DCN Lorient 23 October 2003 12 July 2006 June 2009
Italian Navy
Andrea Doria D553 Fincantieri Riva Trigoso 19 July 2002 15 October 2005 22 December 2007
Caio Duilio D554 Fincantieri Riva Trigoso September 2003 23 October 2007 3 April 2009

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Projet de loi de finances pour 2013 : Défense : équipement des forces" (in French). Senate of France. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  2. "Project Horizon". Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  3. Marine nationale
  4. Frégate Forbin
  5. Frégate Chevalier Paul
  6. "Horizon Class". Naval Technology. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  7. "The frigate Chevalier Paul, "beast of war" of the Navy". 30 November 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  8. Dranidis, Dimitris V. (May 2003). "Backboards of the fleet: shipboard phased-array radars; a survey of requirements, technologies, and operational systems". pp. 55. 
  9. Nicoll, Alexander (27 April 1999). "National differences scupper frigate project". Financial Times. 

External links

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