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Tri-National Common New Generation Frigate (CNGF)

The UK withdrew from participation in the tri-national Project Horizon / Common New Generation Frigate (CNGF) program for the UK, France and Italy, and the project was terminated in October 1999. Delays to the Common New Generation Frigate program had increased the costs borne by the UK Ministry of Defense by 537 million There was no slack in the overall development program for the CNGF and the planned in-service date of 2002 was overly optimistic.

The Common New Generation Frigate project comprised two linked collaborative programs to acquire a replacement Class of vessels for the Royal Navy?s existing Type 42 anti-air warfare Destroyers (Project Horizon) and to equip them with a missile system (the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS)) capable of protecting the vessels themselves and ships in their company against aircraft and missiles. The Common New Generation Frigate was originally intended to enter service in December 2002 and work alongside the Type 23 Frigates whose primary role is anti-submarine warfare.

As of August 1995 the Ministry of Defence (the Department) seemed to have applied the majority of lessons learnt from past warship procurement programs in their strategy for the acquisition of the Common New Generation Frigate (CNGF), which will follow-on from the Type 23 Frigate as the United Kingdom's next major escort warship procurement. However, there were, in the National Audit Office's view, two areas which give cause for concern: an overly optimistic project timetable and the work-share arrangements on a program where United Kingdom production and development costs were estimated to be between 4.5 and 5 billion.

CNGF was intended to replace the Type 42 Destroyer as the Royal Navy's primary air defence vessel for maritime operations. The ship, and many of its combat equipments, was to be procured through international collaboration with France and Italy and is likely to be one of the most complex warship programs ever undertaken by the UK MOD.

The tri-nationally agreed procurement strategy provided for the establishment of an International Joint Venture Company which will be contracted for the design and build of the ship's platform, and for carrying forward the design and integration of the Combat System and other individual equipments. When operational, the ship should provide a most effective area defence capability.

This was the second time the United Kingdom had been substantially involved in the collaborative procurement of a frigate, the UK having been a member of the NATO Frigate for the 90s project. The project failed in the 1980s, primarily because it proved impracticable to harmonise national requirements and time scales between so many partner nations. Lessons learnt from past United Kingdom warship projects had major implications for the procurement of the CNGF not only for the Department, but also for industry. The National Audit Office's review of the CNGF project to date shows that the Department are acting upon the majority of the lessons that have been highlighted by the Committee of Public Accounts and the Defence Committee in their reports on warship building and other procurements over the last 20 years.

Industry was treated as a full partner in the procurement of the CNGF and was contracted to bear much of the procurement risk. In turn, the Department and their collaborative partners put in place arrangements to monitor, and as far as possible, minimise risk on the overall program. Such arrangements were particularly important, given that the development risk on the CNGF was comparable to, if not greater than, that for the United Kingdom's own Type 23 Frigate Program.

Modern warship production techniques may require elements of the ship design to be frozen much earlier than in the past and modular construction may well require the delivery of equipments for ship fitting at an earlier stage. This, in turn, placed greater emphasis on the requirement for equipments to be fully defined before detailed design of the ship begins.

The CNGF Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and other national partners followed the recommendation of the Committee of Public Accounts that trade-offs between minimising costs and securing an equitable work share should be determined in advance. The agreed principle for CNGF was to be value for money. However, this was subject to an agreement that work share should broadly equate to cost share throughout the program. If not managed carefully, work share considerations could cause significant difficulties, as they have done on another collaborative program, and seriously inhibit the cost effectiveness of the program.






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