French, Italian Horizon Frigates to Receive Mid-Life Upgrade

The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) has awarded Naviris and EUROSAM a 1.5-billion euro ($1.64 billion) mid-life upgrade contract for the French and Italian Navy’s Horizon-class frigates.

In addition, the joint venture will integrate a next-generation Principal Anti-Air Missile System & Long-Range Radar (PAAMS & LRR) into the vessels.

Fincantieri and Naval Group will lead the frigate revamp, while MBDA and Thales will focus on the PAAMS & LRR.

Other companies participating in the initiative are Leonardo, ELT, and Thales joint segment SIGEN.

The program is expected to significantly enhance the Horizon fleet’s architecture and air defense capabilities to match evolving threats.

Next-Generation Air Defense

The fleet will receive new electronic warfare suites and command and control systems to complement the PAAMS & LRR.

The frigates will then be able to counter modern projectiles such as supersonic sea-skimmer, hypersonic, ballistic, and high-velocity cruise missiles.

Once upgraded, the ships will also be able to deter highly-maneuverable aircraft and unmanned aerial systems.

Italian Navy’s Horizon-class destroyer ITS Andrea Doria. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dean M. Cates/US Navy

“PAAMS & LRR, unique System deployed on the four French and Italian frigates, has been successfully engaged all over the world for more than 15 years in synergies with PAAMS & LRR – UK variant deployed on the six Type-45 destroyers,” EUROSAM Managing Director Eva Bruxmeier explained.

“This new generation of PAAMS & LRR for the frigates… relies on an enhanced missile (ASTER Block 1 NT), an upgraded launcher, two new AESA radars (Kronos Grand Naval from Leonardo and SMART-L MM/N from Thales) and a new open software architecture command and control system.”

The Horizon-Class Frigates

The Horizon-class frigates were produced between 2000 and 2010 in partnership with Fincantieri and Naval Group.

Each vessel measures 153 meters (501 feet), has a beam of 20.3 meters (66 feet), and can accommodate more than 200 personnel.

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