ROME — Shipbuilders from France, Italy and Spain have announced the creation of a consortium to ramp up design work on a new European corvette and coordinate cooperation on the program with dozens of firms around the continent.

Touted as a poster child for European defense industry integration, the European Patrol Corvette program was handed €60 million ($59 million) for development by the European Defense Fund in July, with work led by Spain’s Navantia, France’s Naval Group, Italy’s Fincantieri and Naviris – the joint venture teaming the latter two firms.

On Tuesday, the CEOs from those companies signed their consortium into life at the Euronaval exhibit in Paris, claiming it would “develop the initial design of the vessel, maximizing innovations, synergies and collaboration among European shipbuilding industry.”

To date, 40 firms from 12 EU countries have signed up to work on the program, a statement released by the firms added.

With Italy, France, Spain and Greece as founding national partners, and Denmark and Norway joining them last year, companies including Kongsberg, Siemens, Rolls-Royce, MAN and MTU are also on board.

“This program will strongly contribute to European sovereignty in the naval domain by strengthening European industry, increasing cooperation, efficiency and lowering duplication in defense spending,” the statement said.

An Italian naval official told Defense News last month that the European Defense Fund will issue a “call” next year for participants to push on with the program with a EU grant of around €200 million ($197 million) to be available, leading to the production of the first prototype.

Up to 110 meters long and displacing around 3,000 tonnes, the European Patrol Corvette will be built in a full combat version by Italy and Spain, while France and Spain are opting to pursue a long-range variant.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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