FREMM Frigate in Trouble?
A recent D.I.D. article noted the recent launch of the Horizon class air defense frigates by a Franco-Italian consortium, and the platform’s coming modification to a multimission variant (Fregate Europeene Multi-Mission or FREMM). Now DefenseNews.com is reporting that Italy is in danger of reneging on its commitment to build 10 FREMM frigates at a cost of EUR 350 million (USD $468.6 million) per vessel. Analysts note that without the Italian work, economies of scale could be altered, affecting pricing for the French vessels as well. An Italian defense official has stated that funds for the program would be found before fall 2005. These kinds of procurement uncertainties are not uncommon in multi-national collaborative projects, including the Eurofighter.
In somewhat related news, two of the companies in the Franco-Italian consortium to produce the FREMM are denying merger rumours. Thales and Finmeccania have characterized the rumours as “premature”.