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France, Italy Sign Multi-Billion-Euro Frigate Deal

Illustration of the FREMM frigate.

Paris (AFP) Nov 16, 2005
NATO allies France and Italy on Wednesday signed a deal initiating the first phase of a joint programme to build 27 naval frigates, in Europe's largest naval construction project.

The agreement to start the 11-billion-euro (13-billion-dollar) project -- known as Renaissance in Italy and FREMM (European Multi-Mission Frigates) in France -- was signed Wednesday morning, French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.

"The contract for the development and realisation of the multi-mission frigates was signed this morning, after three years of efforts.

"Europe's largest ever naval programme is now underway," Alliot-Marie told parliament during a question and answer session.

In Rome, Italian Defence Minister Antonio Martino welcomed the deal, which was finalised in spite of the fact that France and Italy were both running hefty public deficits that put them at odd with European Union budget rules.

"While expressing his satisfaction, minister Martino underscores that the signing of the document expressed the goverment's intention to respect commitments to develop a European project of great strategic, operational and technical value, despite the existence of budget constraints" from European Union criteria, an official statement said.

French President Jacques Chirac and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed last month to launch the joint project.

The deal was to have been signed during a high-profile summit in Paris but was put off at the last minute when Italy's finance ministry failed to release the funding necessary for the project to begin.

The naval programme is one of Europe's most ambitious ever, and represents a key step towards the development of European and NATO rapid reaction forces, which would rely on the ships to project military power.

It calls for 27 ultra-modern frigates to be ulimately built and entering service between 2010 and 2020.

France is to take 17 of the vessels -- some which will be suited to land-attack missions -- while Italy will take 10.

The frigates are set to be conventionally powered vessels outfitted with automated systems requiring around 100 crew members.

Measuring 140 metres (460 feet) long and 20 metres wide with a draught of five metres and a weight of 5,600 tonnes, they will be capable of a top speed of 27.6 knots and can carry a helicopter.

Each will have sophisticated electronic detection and defence systems featuring radar and infra-red technology, communications gear, sonar and anti-aircraft and anti-submarine missiles.

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EADS To Supply Digital Map Generators For Eurofighter And Tornado
Friedrichshafen, Germany (SPX) Nov 11, 2005
EADS is to equip the Eurofighter combat aircraft of Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Italy and Austria as well as the Tornado combat aircraft of the German Armed Forces with a total of 364 Digital Map Generator systems (DMG).

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