France & Italy Launch First Horizon Class Frigate
France launched the Forbin, its first of the Horizon class 7,000-metric-tonne air defense frigates from DCN’s shipyard in Lorient on March 10. The Horizon program budget totals EUR $3 billion (USD $4 billion), of which approximately one-third was spent on development costs. A total of four Horizon warships are being developed and built by Horizon SAS, a joint venture between France’s DCN and Thales (Armaris) and Italy’s Fincanteri and Finmeccania, Rome (Orizzonte Sistemi Navale).
The frigates’ main anti-air weapon will be MBDA’s Aster missile, developed by France, Britain, and Italy. The vessels will also carry 76mm Otobreda guns using optical and radar targeting, MM40 Exocet or Otomat Teseo anti-ship missiles, NH90 and/or EH101 helicopters, GE Gas turbines, and combat system software from the Armaris-Finmeccanica joint venture Eurosysnav. Commonality between the French and Italian versions is reportedly over 90%. Because the Horizon ships are built under a cooperative system, France and Italy are sharing the costs over the four ships.
A multimission frigate variant (Fregate Europeene Multi-Mission or FREMM) is also in development, with proposals in the works for France’s DGA defense procurement agency and Italy’s Navarm. Contracts are expected as early as July 2005. A decision on whether to use General Electric or Rolls-Royce gas turbines on the FREMM is also expected soon. DefenseNews.com article