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Franco-Italian Horizon-class MLU moves forward

The French and Italian navy's four Horizon-class anti-air warfare destroyers in formation. (Italian Navy)

A formal contract for the mid-life upgrade (MLU) of the four Franco-Italian Horizon-class anti-air warfare (AAW) frigates is expected to be signed in the coming weeks, Fincantieri and Naval Group, operating under their 50/50 joint venture (JV) partnership Naviris, announced.

The pending deal follows a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by representatives from Italy and France at the Paris Air Show 2023 on 20 June.

Built under a joint programme between Fincantieri and Naval Group between 2000 and 2010 the Horizon class comprises two Forbin-class frigates operated by the French Navy and two Andrea Doria-class destroyers operated by the Italian Navy.

The MLU will cover the overall modernisation of the frigates, with a particular focus on the AAW capabilities (including the radars, weapons, and related command-and-control), the platform and combat system, and the electronic warfare (EW) system that will be common to both countries.

The modernisation effort will be conducted by Naviris and co-contractor Eurosam (a JV formed by MBDA and Thales), with participation from other industrial partners including Leonardo and SIGEN (a JV between Elettronica and Thales).

Under the terms of the MOU, Naviris will be responsible for the modernisation of the combat system, including AAW integration, installation of a new EW system, new communication and combat management systems, and a new optronic system, as well as work to address obsolescence and platform modernisation, including installation of a new ship management system. Eurosam, meanwhile, will modernise the AAW chain, including the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) and installation of new radars.

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