Horizon Class Destroyer

Horizon Class Destroyer

The Horizon class is a class of air-defence destroyers in service with the French Navy and the Italian Navy, designated as destroyers using NATO classification. The programme started as the Common New Generation Frigate (CNGF), a multi-national collaboration to produce a new generation of air-defence frigates. In Italy the class is known as the Orizzonte class, which translates to “horizon” in French and English. The UK then joined France and Italy in the Horizon-class frigate programme; however, differing national requirements, workshare arguments and delays led to the UK withdrawing on 26 April 1999 and starting its own national project, the Type 45 destroyer.

The FREMM-class multipurpose frigate are currently under construction using the same company structure as the Horizon project.


France, Italy and the UK issued a joint requirement in 1992 after the failure of the NATO Frigate Replacement for the 90s (NFR-90) project. The resulting CNGF programme consisted of the Horizon frigate and its Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS).

Problems emerged almost immediately: the primary problem was that of differing requirements: France wanted anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) escorts for its aircraft carriers, but only a limited range was necessary due to the self-defence capability of Charles de Gaulle. Italy too required only close-range capabilities, as in its home waters of the Mediterranean Sea the ships would operate under Italian Air Force cover or escorts for its aircraft carrier Cavour. The Royal Navy, however, required more capable ships which could throw a large defensive “bubble” over a fleet operating in hostile areas. The compromise which largely solved this problem was the adoption of a standard radar interface which allowed France and Italy to install the EMPAR multi-function passive electronically scanned array radar and the UK to install the more capable SAMPSON active electronically scanned array radar – the SAMPSON radar has a higher data rate and an adaptive beam that allows a greater ability to track multiple targets, long-range detection of low-RCS targets, a lower false-alarm rate, and overall higher tracking accuracy.

An international joint venture company (IJVC) was established in 1995 comprising the national prime contractors, DCN (France), GEC-Marconi (UK) and Orizzonte (Italy). In the period 1995–1996 significant arguments, changing requirements and technological problems led to the slippage of the in-service-date of the frigates to around 2006.

In early 1997 a disagreement emerged as to the choice of vertical launching system (VLS) for the PAAMS Aster missile. France and Italy favoured their own Sylver Vertical Launching System, while the UK was leaning toward the American Mk 41 – capable of firing the Tomahawk land attack missile. This issue was eventually resolved when the SYLVER launcher was selected by the PAAMS development team.

UK withdrawal

On 26 April 1999 the UK announced that it was withdrawing from the CNGF project to pursue its own national design. The Financial Times summarised the main disagreements between the partner countries:

  • Vessel size – The UK wanted a large destroyer which could patrol large areas such as the Atlantic, compared to France’s desire for smaller aircraft carrier escorts and Italy’s intention to use them in the Mediterranean. An agreement was reached but the Financial Times reported that the issue “never entirely [went] away.”
  • Capability – As noted above the UK wanted the ships with a wide-area defence capability due to its experience in the Falklands War. The selection of differing radars largely resolved this.
  • Industrial structure – The UK tried to use its larger requirement to exert influence; the UK’s desire to see Marconi appointed as prime contractor was accepted by France, but only in return for DCN being given the role as prime contractor for the combat management system. The UK, which wished to see a British Aerospace-led consortium given this role, would not accept this.

The resulting Type 45 destroyer is armed with the PAAMS missile system and has benefited from investment in the Horizon project.

Franco-Italian project

France and Italy continued their collaboration under the Horizon project. In September 2000, the two countries signed a contract to jointly produce four ships, ordering two ships each which would deploy the PAAMS missile system. The Italian Navy ordered two units, Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio, to replace the Audace-class destroyers. Andrea Doria was accepted on 22 December 2007 and received the flag of the Italian Navy. Full operation capability was achieved in the summer of 2008. The French Navy ordered two units, Forbin and Chevalier Paul to replace the Suffren-class carrier escorts. The project cost France €2.16bn (~US$3bn) at 2009 prices. A further two Horizons were cancelled; instead the two Cassard-class frigates were to be replaced by the FREDA air-defence variant of the Franco-Italian FREMM-class multipurpose frigate. France has bought forty Aster 15s and eighty Aster 30s for her ships. On the Italian units the three cannon will be upgraded to the 76/62mm Super Rapid Multi Feeding David/Strales version with the capacity to use the DART guided projectile in the anti-missile role.


Type: Guided missile destroyer
Displacement: – 7,050 t (6,940 long tons; 7,770 short tons), full load
– 5.290 t (5.206 long tons; 5.831 short tons), light displacement
Length: – 152.87 m (501 ft 7 in) LOA
– 141.7 m (465 ft) LPP
Beam: 20.3 m (67 ft)
Draught: – 5.4 m (18 ft)
– depth 11.8 m (39 ft)
Propulsion: – CODOG scheme
– 2 x GE/Avio General Electric LM2500Plus TAG, 20.500 kW (27.491 hp) each
– 2 x diesel engines SEMT Pielstick 12PA6 STC 4.320 kW (5.793 hp) each
– 4 x diesel engine generators Isotta Fraschini V1716T2ME, 1.600 kW (2.146 hp) each
– 2 x shaft
– 1 x bow thruster
Speed: In excess of 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range: – 6,100 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 18 kn (33 km/h)
– 3,500 nmi (6,480 km) at 25 knots (46 km/h)
Complement: Italia: 255 in 1, 2 or 4 beds for cabin
Crew: Italia: 236, of which: 195 based-crew + 13 flight staff + 18 others
Sensors and
processing systems:
– Selex ES EMPAR Phased array G band multi-purpose radar
– BAE/Thales Group S1850M long range radar
– Thales Group UMS 4110 CL sonar
– (Only Italian units:) surface search radar in E/F band Selex RAN 30X/I (RASS)
– Selex ES IFF SIR R/S
– GEM Elettronica navigation radar AN/SPN753(V)4
– 2 x Selex ES RTN-30X fire direction radar
– Sagem IRST Vampir MB (IRAS)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
– Elettronica Spa 4100 Nettuno
– 2 x OTO Melara ODLS-H decoy launching system
– 2× SLAT anti torpedo system
Armament: Anti-air missiles: PAAMS air-defence system; A 48-cell A50 Sylver Vertical Launching System for a mix of up-to 48×: Aster 15 missiles (range 1.7–30 km); Aster 30 missiles (range 3–120 km)
Anti-ship missiles: 8× Exocet MM40 (France); Otomat Mk 2/ Block IV (Italy)
Guns & CIWS: 2× OTO Melara 76 mm Super Rapid guns (France); 3× OTO Melara 76 mm Super Rapid guns with Davide/Strales system (Italy); 1× Sadral Mistral CIWS, FFBNW (France);2× OTO Melara KBA 25/80 mm guns (Italy) or 3× 20 mm Narwhal remotely-operated guns (France); Italy: 2 x LRAD Sitep MS-424

Anti-submarine warfare: 2× WASS B515/1 single torpedo tubes for MU90 Impact (with 24 torpedoes stored)
Aircraft carried: 1 x AW101 or NH-90
Aviation facilities: – Flight deck, 24.8 m × 16.0 m (81.4 ft × 52.5 ft)
– Hangar for one AW101 or NH-90


  • French Navy – 2 units delivered in 2008
  • Italian Navy – 2 units delivered in 2007


Horizon Class Destroyer
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Horizon Class Destroyer
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2 thoughts on “Horizon Class Destroyer

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