The Government this week denied it had threatened to pull out of the £8bn tri-nation Horizon frigate programme in an effort to force France and Italy to resolve their problems over the project.
However, the Ministry of Defence said Defence secretary George Robertson has expressed disappointment to his opposite numbers with slow progress and with industrial and management aspects of the programme.
Robertson expects to see ‘substantial progress and resolution of at least some of our concerns by the end of the year’, the MoDadded.
The MoD expects to place the tri-national contract for development and initial production of Horizon’s Eurosam Paams air defence missile early next year. This will include British Aerospace Defence Systems’ Sampson multi-function radar.
Talks on supplements to the Horizon memorandum of understanding, covering phase two of the Horizon ship programme, are also under way, the MoD said.
A Horizon contract is planned early next year with GEC Marine, France’s DCN and Italy’s Orrizonte, which are running the project as an international joint venture company.
Project Horizon aims to provide 12 new generation frigates for the Royal Navy, six for Italy and up to four for France.