Monday, 14 July 2014

Horizon class destroyers of the French and Italian Navy

Written by D-Mitch

The four vessels in the Horizon class in formation
The Horizon/Orrizonte class destroyers is a class of four hich-tech stealth Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) ships which were commissioned the period 2008-2009 in French Navy (Marine Nationale) and Italian Navy (Marina Militare Italiana).  Two ships were built for each navy, under a multi-national collaboration between the two countries, the Horizon SAS. Horizon SAS was a temporary consortium of companies between Italy and France (50% Italy - 50% France) provided by Orrizonte Sistemi Navali (joint venture between Fincantieri and Finmeccanica) and Armaris (joint venture between DCN and Thales). The project originally included also the United Kingdom  however due to differing requirements from the Royal Navy for a heavier ship that can provide air defence to a fleet that operates in hostile waters, the United Kingdom proceeded alone to develop the Type 45 destroyer instead. The main differences in the requirements were in the Vertical Launching System (VLS) and the scanned array radar. Though four units were planned for each navy, only two were built for each one. The French vessels, Forbin and Chevalier Paul, replaced the two AAW vessels of Suffren class while the Italian vessels, Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio, replaced the two AAW vessels of Audace class. The armament and equipment are almost identical between the vessels in service with France and Italy. The class carries a variety of weapons and electronic equipment and it is capable for any kind of mission. Great emphasis was given on the stealth performance and thus tilted superstructures, composite materials and special coatings contribute to a very small radar signature.

The four destroyers of Horizon/Orizzonte class in formation.

The general characteristics of the class is a displacement of 7,050tons, length of 153m, beam of 20.3m, maximum speed of close to 30knots and a range of over 7,000n.m. with a cruising speed of 18knots. The ship has a crew of 180-200 persons, an additional capacity for at least 30-50 passengers or admiral staff. The endurance of the vessels is 45 days at sea between replenishments . Each vessel can accommodate an NH90 or EH101 ASW helicopters and/or UAVs. The propulsion is of the CODOG (Combined Diesel or Gas).

The 76mm guns of Forbin.
Photo: Emmanuel L.
Caio Duilio's gun firing
The ships are equipped with two fully automatic OTO Melara Super Rapido guns of 76mm/62cal guns installed as a pair on the foredeck forward of the bridge. This gun is capable to intercept air and surface targets at a distance of 16 km unleashing 120 rounds per minute weighting greater than 6kg each. The gun has excellent performance in any kind of role, such as air defence, anti surface, anti-missile and shore bombardment role. The Italian vessels have an additional third gun installed on the helicopter hangar at the aft of the ship. Instead, the French vessels were initially to be equipped with one or two Mistral 2 Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) automatic launchers (remotely controlled) either Sadral with 6 missiles or Tetral with 4 missiles, on the starboard roof of the helicopter hangar. Until today French vessels have not been equipped with the launcher but they retain the provision for one such launcher in the future. Mistral 2 is a lightweight, fully digital and autonomous (fire-and-forget), heat-seeking missile, with a passive IR homing guidance by a highly sensitive cooled multicell seeker (seeker activation time: two seconds). The speed is Mach 2.5, the warhead is 2.95kg while the accuracy of the missile  is outstanding (96% kill efficiency rate demonstrated during user firings). The system is optimized to counter any air target at short notice. However until today the French ships have bot been installed with the launcher.

Impressive view of the guns and VLS
Launching an Aster missile
Forward of the two guns towards the bow deck, it is installed the main armament of the class,  a DCNS Sylver A50 VLS with 48 cells (four VLS) for MBDA Aster 15 anti-aircraft/missile missiles for local and area defence (medium range) and Aster 30 missiles that provide long range interception capability for area defence (see the video for Sylver VLS). According to some sources the space located forwards of the silos allows for 16 more missiles in the future. Both Aster 15 and 30 missiles featuring the same terminal dart. The Aster missiles are autonomously guided with a maximum range of greater than 30km for Aster 15 and a speed of higher than Mach 3 and a range of 100-120km and Mach 4.5 for Aster 30 that has two-stage propulsion system . The missile provides protection to the vessel against a full spectrum of air threats such as anti-shipping missile including sea-skimming and high diver missiles, supersonic and subsonic missiles, anti-radiation missiles UAV and aircrafts (see video) with a very high single shot probability. ASTER’s terminal dart is a lightweight, highly manoeuvring and agile missile equipped with a high-performance active RF seeker with capability against stealthy targets. Thanks to the unique combination of aerodynamic control and direct thrust vector control called “PIF-PAF, the missile is capable of high g manoeuvres. Together, these features give ASTER an unmatched hit-to-kill capability. The system has an extremely quick reaction time with high rate of fire and it provides full coverage under any kind of weather.

Modified photo (2nd version) of  Orrizonte class destroyer of the Italian Navy. High resolution image here.

Exocet missiles onboard a French vessel of the class
The ships carry also eight (8) anti-shipping missiles between the ship's two masts. The French ships carry the MBDA MM-40 Exocet Block III guided anti-ship missiles with a range  of more than 180km carrying a warhead of 164kg. The missile accepts also GPS guidance system waypoint commands which allow it to attack naval targets under different angles and to strike land targets as well. The missile guidance is inertial in mid-flight until turns on active radar late in its flight (active guidance) to the corresponding trigger point for the detection and locking of its target. In order to minimize the recognition from rival radar and infrared seekers and the subsequent attack of the projectile from the air defense around the target, the system maintains a very low altitude during ingress, staying 1–2 m above the sea surface (sea-skimming) striking the target near the waterline. Due to the effect of the radar horizon and to the high speed of the missile (Mach 0.9), the target may not detect an incoming attack until the missile is only 6,000m from impact and thus it leaves little time for reaction of the target’s CIWS. The missile has low signature and it has enhanced target discrimination and ECCM making it very difficult to be intercepted.

The silhouette of Andrea Doria (D553) in the sunset. Photo: Marina Militare Italiana

Otomat/Teseo Mk2 anti-shipping missile
The Italian ships carry the MBDA Otomat/Teseo Mk2A guided anti-shipping missile, which has a range of up to 180km, a high subsonic speed Mach 0.9 and carries a warhead of 210kg capable piercing up to 80mm of steel. The warhead is designed to explode inside the ship with the force of the explosion directed to the bottom of the target ship. Capable of ranges from 6-180km in all directions, the system relies on powerful mission planning (3D way-points, terminal sea skimming profile, simultaneous attack from different directions). Target data is derived from the ship's Command System or taken directly from the ship's surface search radar. Mission Planning allows the selection of different firing modes (such as Fire and Forget or midcourse guided) and of specific trajectories and evasive manoeuvres. Cruise and approach phases may be either fully inertial or partially guided from the launch ship through a radio-link. Mid course re-vectoring from a co-operating ship or helicopter is also possible. The excellent capabilities of the missile (short reaction time, Fire and Forget, INS/GPS navigation, high target selection, ECCM and anti-CIWS manoeuvres, warhead lethality with no collateral damage) allow the system to operate effectively in littoral warfare environments, as well as in blue waters. The terminal attack phase is based upon an autonomous terminal guidance using an active homing head with improved target selection capabilities in complex scenarios. It should be mentioned that Otomat is one of the most powerful of all modern western anti-ship missiles having a mid course data-link and land attack capability.

Modified photo (2nd version) of  Horizon class destroyer of the French Navy. High resolution image here.

Torpedo launcher and MU90 torpedo.
For anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations the vessels have two twin (French ships) or two single (Italian ships) Eurotorp B515 324mm torpedo launchers for MU90/Impact torpedoes with Calzoni AHS (Automatic Handling System). The ships carry in total 24 torpedoes. MU90 is a lightweight torpedo with a warhead of 32.7kg, a speed from 29 to maximum 50 knots (!), around 10km with maximum speed and 23km with minimum speed. The maximum depth is 1,000m. The torpedo, is of fire-and-forget type and it has been designed to counter any type of nuclear or conventional submarine, acoustically coated, deep and fast-evasive, deploying active or passive anti-torpedo effectors while it has an extreme agility and maneuverability. In the main counter-counter measures are included stationary target detection capability, decoy classification and anti-jammer tactics. The torpedo equips also the NH90 and AW101 Merlin helicopters for ASW operations.

The single torpedo launcher of destroyer Caio Duilio.
The 2nd launcher has not been fitted.

2omm modele F2 gun
OTO Melara 25mm gun
The French ships are armed with two 20mm/90cal modele F2 guns installed to port and to starboard. This gun has a firing rate of approximately 750 rounds per minute while the effective range against aerial targets is about 1,500-2,000m. The gun has two 150-cartridge boxes on each side of it. The gun is maneuvered by the body of the gunner, who is attached to the weapon directing the fire via an optical visor. The Italian ships have two OTO Melara Oerlikon KBA 25mm/80cal  guns which are also installed one to port and one to starboard. The guns are stabilized, electric servo-drive assisted, while a weapon control is featured in order to allow the gunner to remain steady at any barrel elevation, laying the gun with the maximum accuracy even against targets at maximum elevation. A conventional aiming system is fitted to the mount, but also an IR sight with integrated ballistic reticule is available. The rate of fire is about 650 rounds per minute and the effective range for aerial targets is about 2,000m. The gun has two 126-round boxes on each side of it.

Chevalier Paul  (D621)

As it was mentioned earlier, the vessels carry NH90 or AW101 helicopters. Both types can carry either MU-90 torpedoes (see previous paragraph about MU90) or MBDA Marte Mk2 anti-shipping missiles. Marte is a lightweight, fire-and-forget all weather subsonic and sea-skimming missile suitable for littoral environments. It carries a 70kg semi-piercing warhead  detonated by impact or proximity. The range of the missile is up to 30km.

AW101with Marte Mk2 anti-shipping missile
MBDA Marte Mk2 anti-shipping missile
NH90 armed with a MU90 torpedo

CONTRALTO-V or else SLAT system onboard.
Photo: Emmanuel L.
The countermeasures include the DCNS CONTRALTO-V Torpedo Countermeasures system (or else known as SLAT system) for surface vessels. CONTRALTO®-V is composed of several subsystems for an optimized defense against torpedoes: the reaction system, which calculates & suggests optimized evasive manoeuvres and sets off the countermeasures, the deployment system (launcher) fitted to several types of launchers (mortar, pneumatic, rocket) and the CANTO®-V countermeasure. CANTO®-V is a broadband active acoustic countermeasure. It is designed to saturate the torpedo data processing system by emitting specific and smart acoustic signals covering the whole torpedo frequency band in both active and passive mode. Its mission consists in exhausting the threat by creating and constantly renewing hundreds of false targets on a 360-degree coverage area (5 sec deployment). This concept, called dilution/confusion, is the only one capable of defeating advanced torpedoes while consuming less munitions and it is efficient whatever the number of torpedoes or their types and doesn’t need to be deployed far from the threatened ship. The system offers a 95% escape probability against torpedoes detected at 3,000 meters. Watch the video to realize how the system works.

Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio of Italian Navy in formation.
Photo: Marina Militare Italiana

SCLAR-H decoy launcher.
NGDS decoy launcher.
Photo: Dominique Lenoir
The French vessels are equipped with two Sagem NGDS (New-Generation Dagaie System) multiple decoy launchers to counter a variety of threats such as anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. NGDS is integrated in the ship's combat system's detection and warning system and can react automatically to current or emerging threats, in extremely short times. Each system is equipped with a single dual launcher including decoys (infrared, radar or acoustic) adapted to the threat to be neutralized. The NGDS system adapts to all types of munitions: electromagnetic or IR decoys, Active Offboard Decoy (AOD), Anti-Torpedo Decoy and/or laser jammer, deployed at short, medium or long range. The launchers are linked to a computer that selects the decoying best-suited technique. The Electronic Warfare Coordination Center provides the commanding officer with the ship’s tactical situation and coordinates the various Electronic Warfare (EW) tactics: threat evaluation, tactics optimization, coordination of decoys, radar jammer and more generally, electronic countermeasures Electronic Support Measures (ESM). Instead, the Italian ships are equipped with two OTO Melara/Selex SCLAR-H decoy launchers for 105mm or 118mm multipurpose rockets.

SCLAR-H decoy launcher in action
The vessels carry also two Zodiac Hurricane 733 RIBs for high speed assault/commando operations. The boats have a maximum speed of about 50knots.

Hurrican 733 RIB on Forbin. Photo: Dominique Lenoir

S1850M/SMART-L radar. Photo: Thales
The electronic equipment includes the S1850M long range surveillance 3D radar at the top of the aft mast, a derivative of Thales SMART-L. SMART-L is a 3D multibeam radar designed to provide long-range air & surface surveillance and target designation. SMART-L’s large sensitivity allows for the early detection and tracking of very small aircraft and missiles. The accurate 3D target information provides an essential contribution to the threat evaluation process, especially in multiple attack scenarios and it allows the weapon control system to lock-on rapidly. Operating in L-band, SMART-L provides a very long-range coverage (400 km radius, 65km for stealth missiles) as well as 70° of elevation.  The detection range is 2 km against RHIB and 7 km against FPB. SMART-L's high sensitivity allows for the early detection and tracking of very small aircraft and missiles. Full Doppler processing for instantaneous radial velocity measurement and clutter suppression, combined with refined signal processing, guarantees excellent performance, especially against stealth targets in a littoral environment. The Smart-L / S1850M is the de facto standard of the major European navies for their long-range 3D radar requirements and foreseen as one of the pillars in the NATO TBMD. Recent tests with SMART-L equipped with the recently developed Extended Long Range module were highly successful. Thanks to the ELR module, SMART-L's already impressive range can be substantially increased.

In front of the main mast the navigation radars (one SPN 753 in light green and
two FURUNO radars in blue). At the right of Syracuse satellite system another
SPN 753 radar. At the top of the mast the EMPAR radar while immediately
below  the RTN-30X radar.
At the top of the forward mast in a large round radome it is mounted the multi-function phased array radar, EMPAR (European Multi-function Phased Array Radar) which provides simultaneous surveillance, tracking and weapons control. EMPAR is the primary sensor in the FSAF/SAAM-IT and PAAMS missile systems. It operates at   C-band, performing concurrently 3D detection, multiple target tracking and missile guidance. It counters different threats such as high diving and sea skimming missiles, aircraft and helicopters and any kind of vessels. The maximum range of the radar is about 150km.

Caio Duilio (D554). Photo: Marina Militare Italiana
Selex RAN-30X surveillance radar. Photo: Selex
The Italian vessels are equipped with an X-band multi-mode surveillance radar Selex RAN-30X (SPS-791). RAN-30 X/I features up to four operational roles: Surface and Air Surveillance mode (detection and tracking of small air/surface targets; max. range 102km); Navigation and Helicopter control (high antenna rotation speed for navigation close to the coastline; max. range 41km); Over-the-Horizon (OTH) detection (low antenna rotation speed and long range detection capability; max. range 200km); Anti-seaskimmer missile detection (max. rage 25km). This mode has an high antenna rotation rate to ensure the detection and tracking of very small targets manoeuvring in clutter environment and featuring very low Radar Cross Section (R. C. S.). It is an automatic detection/tracker radar that can carry up to 255 system tracks (air and surface).

D620 Forbin
D620 Forbin

Selex NA-25X fire control system
Photo: Selex
The Italian ships are equipped with two Selex NA-25X Radar and Optronic Fire Control Systems (FCS). NA-25X is a modern fire control system based on the ORION RTN-25X tracking naval radar, a J-band fully coherent equipment which is characterised by anti-nodding, extensive ECCM and anti-clutter features together with high tracking accuracy. A set of two EO sensors (TV camera, IR camera) can be mounted on the radar director, to enable firing assessment and to provide an alternative line-of-sight on the same target. A third sensor (Laser Range Finder) can be mounted to provide a complete EO tracker facility. NA-25X can be provided with a dedicated multifunctional console or controlled by any console of the Combat Management System (CMS). The FCS can be easily integrated in every CMS and completely remote accessible. A couple of Targets Designation Sight (TDS) enhance the FCS configuration. Through an internal additional function, NA-25X system can be integrated inside an Artillery System (including at least two FCSs), to optimize the use of all onboard guns against multiple concurrent targets (missiles, air and surface targets). The system perfomrs the following tasks: radar and optronic autonomous search with automatic/manual self-designation, surveillance and self designation on ship's search radar video, automatic engagement of evaluated priority target up to firing action, automatic air/missile/shore and surface targets tracking, automatic detection of launched missile, control of up to three guns with different calibres in the anti-air/anti-surface warfare and CIWS roles, line-of-sight/line-of-fire stabilization and Track While Scan (TWS) on external naval data. The French ships are equipped with a single monopulse Selex ORION RTN-30X (NA-30S)automatic target acquisition tracker/multi-sensor, a more powerful tracker version than the RTN-25X.

Andrea Doria (D553). Photo: Marina Militare Italiana

Vampir NG. Photo: SAGEM
Electronica NETTUNO 4100 jamming
antenna system. Photo: Electtronica
Sagem Vampir NG is a very long-range infrared search/track system (dual mode IRST). It provides naval ships with passive panoramic surveillance functions including automatic detection, tracking and reporting of symmetric or asymmetric threats, from sea-skimming anti-ship missiles to Fast Incoming Attack Craft such as jet skis. It is very sensitive system using the ultra-rapid “step-and-stare” principle enabling 360° coverage with a single high-performance, 3rd generation 3-5 μm IR camera. The high-resolution, 3-axis stabilized video enhances the advanced identification capabilities. It is backed by an image processing system offering optimal performance, even in rough seas. Vampir equips the vessels of the class in the MB version. The ECM equipment of the class is very advanced offering a range of high fidelity jamming techniques designed to counter long range search radars, target acquisition radars and missile radars operating in both their search and locked-on modes. It includes a Thales VIGILE ESM/ELINT system, a Thales TSB 3520 ATC & IFF Combined Interrogator Transponder two Electtronica ESM/ECM SIGEN systems combining Thales ESM sensors and Electtronica NETTUNO 4100 electronic jammers for active electronic defence. The NETTUNO-4100 can exploit a wide range of ECM techniques against surface search and tracking radars in support of anti- surface engagements. Some of the characteristics of these jammers (according to the company) include a very high performance, smart ECM modes, both noise and deception, exploiting DRFM-generated jamming signals, multi-threat jamming capability, electronic beam steering (electronically stabilized against ship movements), high level of readiness (no warm-up), full solid-state design ensuring high ERP and graceful degradation in case of failure and high reliability and maintainability.

Detail of the Forbin. The faceted
appearance reduces radar cross
-section for stealth.
Variety of navigation radars on Forbin.
Photo: Dominique Lenoir
The powerful aft jammer of Forbin.
Photo: Dominique Lenoir
Helicopter hangar and flight deck
24 MU90 torpedoes are carried.
Photo: Dominique Lenoir
The ships are equipped with a Thales UMS 4110 CL low frequency active and passive Bow Mounted Sonar. The hull mounted sonar covers a very large area providing ASW all-round surveillance as it can detect any kind of threat or object from a long range in any environmental condition. It has an excellent target positioning allowing to prosecute and engage distant submarines with organic weapons or airborne assets. The electronic equipment completes two GEM SPN-753G (V) 10 ARPA navigation radars (auto-tracking up to 50 targets), one GEM SPN-753G (V) 10 for helicopter approach control, a Selex SPN-730 Low Probabily Intercept (LPI) Navigation Radar and Precision Approach Radar (PAR) (on the Italian vessels according to Fincantieri), one IFF Selex ES IFF SIR M5-PA, a Secondary Surveillance Radar Selex SIR R/S (the Italian vessels according to Fincantieri) and two FURUNO navigation radars (French ships). 

Interview with the commander of Chevalier Paul, Herve Boy in 2010

Sylver A50 Vertical Launching System. Notice the mountings
for M2 12.7mm machine guns.Photo: Dominique Lenoir
The communications include a variety of equipment and differs between the two navies. Thales ALTESSE is a high performance wideband for Communication ESM providing early warning and tactical situation awareness capabilities based on interception and direction finding of the radio communication signals in HF and V/UHF band, that can be easily integrated with Combat Management System. The TMR6200 are receiver-exciters that use digital signal processing technology to offer cost-effective and highly flexible radios for HF naval communications systems. They can be operated independently as a standalone radio via the control panel or within an integrated naval communications system offering voice, data, messaging and e-mail services. The Thales TUUM-6 Digital Under Water Communication System offering Long range Low Probably Intercept (LPI) data transmission, high data rate transmission and communication with divers. Other equipment includes Link 11, Link 16, satellite and commercial communications such as Syracuse antennas for the French vessels (SURFSAT-L terminal),  the Thales TRN 4000 Fixed Frequency UHF Transceiver and the Thales PARTNER Communication Management System to cope with crew reduction and a friendly use of the communications. The Italian vessels include in their equipment a Selex-SI integrated navigation system and a NICCO Integrate communications system. The command and control system is built by EuroSysNav and it is based on the SENIT (Système d'Exploitation Navale des Informations Tactiques) combat data system. 

The four destroyers of Horizon/Orizzonte class in formation.


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