The two countries were expected to launch the $12.5 billion dollar 27-ship program at the end of October, but the two countries are still working out differences in operational philosophy issues impacting the cost of the ships. The target price of the ships is expected to be around $300-$336 million per ship, a price a bit higher than France wanted to pay, but less than Italy's initial estimates. The French want a combat management system that plugs into their planned network-centric architecture while the Italian navy wants a system compatible with U.S. Navy network systems. Both French and Italian navies will use the same electronic warfare, fire control, and sonar systems.
Italy will likely copy the French scheme for raising private monies outside of the standard defense budget to pay for the building of their ships, but working out the financial terms is another area where the project will be delayed, so a formal kickoff of the project isn't expected until the end of the year or early in 2005, with an initial contract for shipbuilding to be signed in the middle of 2005, a two year delay from the original schedule. Initial ship delivers are unlikely to occur before 2009-2010 with the last of the 27 ships to be delivered in 2019. Doug Mohney
The joint France/Italy effort to build a multimission frigate has been delayed again. The Renaissance-class frigates are designed to carry cruise missiles for land attack as well as perform anti-surface and anti-submarine missions and will carry several new European weapons systems (including a naval version of the Scalp/Storm Shadow cruise missile.)