STUTTGART, Germany — France and Italy will see major midlife upgrades to their Horizon-class frigates after co-contractors Eurosam and Naviris were awarded a €1.5 billion (U.S. $1.7 billion) deal earlier this month.

The international entity Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation signed a contract with the two companies’ executives on July 18, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between France and Italy in June, OCCAR and the companies announced July 31.

Naviris — which is a joint shipbuilding venture between France’s Naval Group and Italy’s Fincantieri — and Eurosam — consisting of the French and Italian arms of MBDA — will lead the industry teams for the midlife upgrades. The work covers four refurbished Horizon-class frigates to be delivered to the two navies between 2027 and 2030, per OCCAR. The Horizon class of ships were originally built between 2000 and 2010 to provide the two nations with new ships specifically for air defense.

The refurbishment will include anti-air warfare capabilities, including a new-generation Principal Anti-Air Missile System and Long-Range Radar, provided by MBDA France and Italy alongside Thales. Other contractors on the program include Leonardo and Sigen — a consortium comprising France’s Thales and Italy’s Elettronica SpA.

The new system will be designed to defeat capabilities including missiles (hypersonic, ballistic, supersonic sea-skimmer, high velocity cruise), unmanned aerial systems, and highly maneuverable aircraft, said Thales in a press release.

OCCAR and Navaris signed a contract in 2020 for a feasibility study phase focused on identifying solutions to upgrade the frigates’ anti-air weaponry to increase their capabilities through the end of their life cycle. The refurbished frigates will go to Italy first — with the “Andrea Doria” delivered by the end of 2027 and the “Caio Duilio” by mid-2029, per OCCAR. The “Forbin” and the “Chevalier Paul” will then be delivered to France by the end of 2029 and the end of 2030, respectively.

Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.

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