A Ministry of Defence source this week dismissed suggestions that the MoD had set an end of March deadline to resolve the dispute threatening the £7bn pan-European Project Horizon air defence frigate.
`The end of March was never a deadline, only a date by which we hoped for a solution,’ the source said.
Last month the MoD said contracts due under Horizon’s first phase were on hold until the dispute was resolved. Britain wants a frigate to defend several ships over a wide area as specified in the original trilateral staff requirement. France and Italy want a cheaper ship to protect a small area.
Senior British naval officers recently visited Washington to look again at US alternatives to the Eurosam Paams air defence missile system planned for Horizon.