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Horizon Construction Program

In April 1999, the Defense Ministers of the United Kingdom, France and Italy agreed not to proceed with development and production of the Horizon project, and Phase 1 (Project Definition) was subsequently completed at the end of October 1999. The replacement national Type 45 Destroyer project (which would still be equipped with PAAMS) was due to enter service in 2007, the same timescale envisaged for the Common New Generation Frigate Project at the conclusion of Phase 1, but still five years later than the date originally estimated based on military judgement of when the new ships were required.

Initially, France anticipated that four frigates of the Horizon type would be made and Italy planned on first six, then also four. But these vessels, armed and extremely powerful, have also been very expensive. Delivered by DCNS in 2007 and 2008 (and put into service shortly thereafter), Forbin and Chevalier Paul cost to themselves alone, 2.7 billion euros (design and construction of platforms and weapons systems included). Due to a lack of funds, their two sister ships were abandoned. Since 2005, DCNS engineers worked on an adaptation of the FREMM to air defense missions. This solution is less costly, led to FREDA as the 10th and 11th FREMM frigates. The design of these new vessels uses the same platform as the 9 ASM oriented ships. The equipment of air defense frigates are more expensive (more powerful radar, missiles Aster 30).

To carry out this cooperative program, the national organizers of the HORIZON program are based on new Franco-Italian structures within which the DGA and French Navy staff headquarters represent France. A Franco-Italian program office installed at Issy-les-Moulineaux is running the program with the support of the Navies and technical experts from both countries. In October 2000, the DGA granted a contract of 3 billion euros to Horizon SAS to cover the development, production and logistics for four FOC (first of class) frigates for France and Italy.

DGA and NAVARM, the two procurement agencies for the Horizon program, awarded the overall project management for this cooperative program to HORIZON SAS, a joint subsidiary of ARMARIS (a DCN/THALES joint venture) and ORIZZONTE SISTEMI NAVALI (a FINCANTIERI/FINMECCANICA joint venture). HORIZON SAS, the prime contactor for this Franco-Italian program awarded DCN, in France, and FINCANTIERI, in Italy, responsibility for the design and construction of the warships. Prime contracting for the combat system was entrusted to EUROSYSNAV, a joint venture of ARMARIS/FINMECCANICA, which draws its industrial capacities from DCN, FINMECCANICA and THALES.

This was the first time that warships of this level of complexity had been cooperatively built with such a high prevalence of common platforms: thus 90% of the equipment is common to both the French and Italian frigates. Cooperation applies not only to the warships, themselves, but also to most of the integrated systems, for example the PAAMs anti-air system which has brought together France, Italy and the UK; the anti-torpedo system and the MU 90 torpedoes manufactured in cooperation with Italy. There is also the NH90 helicopter that the frigate can carry and deploy, a program that resulted from cooperation between France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Moreover, the Horizon program illustrates the refined prime contracting expertise of DGA. This consist not only in producing materials under the best conditions in terms of costs, timeframes and performance, but also in assuring punctuality when putting them into service and high inter-operability. That is why several activities are undertaken simultaneously: shipbuilding, qualification of its anti-air weapons system, integration and sea trials of its combat system.

The Horizon contract included the development and construction of four state-of-the-art anti-air frigates, as well as their associated logistics: Two French frigates, Forbin and Chevalier Paul, to replace the Suffren and Duquesne frigates; Two Italian frigates - Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio - to replace the Ardito and Audace frigates. As of 2004 each Navy was to receive one vessel in 2006 and a second in 2009.

The networked sharing of Computer Assistant Designs (CAD) at all levels also made it possible to avoid a lengthy mock-up process and drastically decrease the duplication of anomaly errors during assembly. For example, pipes are pre-bent for easy assembly, and cables are routed using CAD to optimize positioning and determine ideal pre-cut lengths. Plans showing the juxtaposition of all systems allow for uniform interconnectivity. Important investments were also made at the Lorient shipyard to optimize the means for warehousing and production, and to develop a networked means of communication to assure a strong motivation among all installers. Moreover, a new building to house engineering was inaugurated in 2005. A complete overhaul of methodology for preparing and executing the work was undertaken on DCN sites so as to respect the program's production flowchart. Thus, a special assembly area was created to integrate engineering, industrial processes, and scheduling.

An official ceremony was held 10 March 2005 at the DCN shipyards in Lorient to mark the launching of the first Horizon class French frigate, the Forbin. This industrial operation marks an important milestone for the cooperative Franco-Italian naval program. As for the second frigate, Chevalier Paul: its first plate was cut on 1 December 2003 and delivery was planned for Spring 2008. After the "first cut" ceremony on 8 April 2002 in Lorient, the launching of the Forbin marked a new, important and significant phase. It indicates the end of the installation onboard of the heaviest and most unwieldy materials, especially the main elements for the energy and propulsion system. Moreover, it prefigures the integration of the combat system during the summer of 2005, in preparation for full sea trials.

On 14 October 2005 at Fincantieri's shipyard at Riva Trigoso (Genoa) there was the ceremony to launch the "Andrea Doria", the first of two "Orizzonte" class ships ordered by the Italian Navy from Fincantieri under a contract signed in October 2000, within the framework of an agreement between Italy and France to build four vessels, two for each Navy. Acting as godmother to the ship was Dame Gesine Floridi Doria Pamphilj. Steel cutting of the "Andrea Doria" started at Riva Trigoso in July 2002, and delivery was scheduled within 2007. The sister ship, "Caio Duilio", on which construction started in September 2003, was to be delivered at the beginning of 2009. The two ships are being built at Fincantieri's Naval Vessel Business Unit shipyards at Riva Trigoso and Muggiano, which are complementary to each other. Fincantieri is also building for the Navy under the Italian-German programme which comprises the completion of two U212A type submarines, the "Todaro" and the "Scire', as well as the programme for the aircraft carrier, "Cavour".

On April 3, 2009 the ceremony at Fincantieri's Muggiano (La Spezia) shipyard marked the handover to the Italian Navy of the frigate "Caio Duilio" which had been launched in October 2007 at Riva Trigoso. The handover follows intensive sea trials and there will be further testing of the communication, command and control systems so that the "Caio Duilio" may become fully operational. The key feature of the ceremony was the raising of the flag of the Italian Navy on the Duilio.

The "Caio Duilio", together with her sister ship, the Andrea Doria, which was already in service and was also built at Riva and Muggiano shipyards and delivered to the Navy in December 2007, were ordered by the Italian Navy from Fincantieri within the "Orizzonte" (Horizon) program, which involved cooperation between Italy and France for the construction of two vessels for the fleet of each national Navy. This is the fourth vessel that the Italian Navy has named "Caio Duilio", in memory of the Roman consul who distinguished himself in the first Punic war when his fleet won the battle of Milazzo in 260 B.C.

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Page last modified: 26-02-2013 10:55:01 ZULU