OCCAR, in collaboration with Naviris and Eurosam, has finalized a €1.5bn contract for the mid-life upgrade (MLU) of French and Italian Horizon frigates.
The upgrade will see these vessels incorporating anti-warfare systems and command and control technologies to bolster their capabilities against modern threats. Naviris and Eurosam’s collaboration with their shareholders Fincantieri, Naval Group, MBDA Italia, MBDA France, and Thales will see a transformation in the Horizon frigates.
The upgrade will integrate new weapon systems, advanced command and control functionalities, and electronic warfare suites. The capabilities will improve performance against modern threats, including hypersonic, ballistic, supersonic sea-skimmer, high-velocity cruise missiles, UAVs, and highly manoeuvring aircraft in saturation attack scenarios.
One of the highlights of the upgrade is the introduction of the new generation of PAAMS & LRR, an anti-air warfare system.
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Developed and produced by Eurosam through MBDA Italia, MBDA France, and Thales, the upgraded system includes 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. This technology will ensure that the frigates remain effective in air defence missions.
Eva Bruxmeier, Managing Director of Eurosam, commended the success of the PAAMS & LRR system, “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.
This new generation of PAAMS & LRR for the frigates, developed and produced by Eurosam through MBDA Italia, MBDA France and Thales and integrated jointly with Naviris on 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”.
In January 2023, EUROSAM, MBDA and Thales signed a five-year new in-service support contract with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation’s (OCCAR) FSAF–PAAMS Programme Division.
The Horizon frigates were built between 2000 and 2010 as part of a collaborative program between Fincantieri and Naval Group and entered service with the French Navy in 2011. The upgrade project aims to reinforce the Italian and French navies with frigates equipped with advanced anti-air capabilities.
With the Mid-Life Upgrade, the Horizon class frigates will continue to serve as front-line fighting ships with specialized missions in anti-air warfare. These vessels will play a role in airspace control, Air Defense command and control, and anti-air cover for carrier groups and convoys, protecting against high-intensity threats and anti-ship missile attacks.
The project is expected to fortify the frigates for high-intensity operations with reduced crewing while contributing to air/sea control during military operations for allied forces.