Potential contracts worth millions of pounds to provide equipment on frigates for Project Horizon, a joint venture between Italy, France and the UK, could disappear as the three nations look to save money.
The cost of the 22-ship programme has escalated from less than £5bn to up to £8.25bn.
Affordability studies to identify areas where costs could be cut could decide the British attitude to the project, a British defence insider suggested.
‘What we want out of Horizon is the platform and PAAMS [Principal Anti-Air Missile System]. There are various other equipments which may not be feasible or affordable,’ he said.
The affordability studies started in October 1997 and are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The studies are looking at new equipment still needing full development, and off-the-shelf items. These include the anti-ship missile armament, which could be scrapped to save money.
Horizon’s full development items are the combat management system, the fully integrated communications systems and the electronic warfare system. Competitive project definition studies for these are already under way.
The affordability studies by the project’s International Joint Venture Company ‘are aimed at finding a balance between cost and capability for a solution that’s affordable within the three nations’ budgets,’ the MoD said.
It said it was ‘committed to obtaining value for money by collaboration. Alternative national options cannot match these potential cost savings. Of course, we keep alternative options under review and we wouldn’t pursue collaboration for its own sake regardless of cost.’