In the margins of NATO's 50th Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C., in late April, the lights went out on Project Horizon, the British-French-Italian Common New Generation Frigate. The project died with a whimper, and the three governments, the three ministries of defense, and the star-crossed partner rivals of the European defense industry will have to make early decisions on what can be rescued from the ashes.
Years ago, it had begun with a bang, or at least with the popping of flashbulbs and champagne corks. On 18 December 1992 the Chiefs of Naval Staff of Britain, France, and Italy signed a tripartite staff requirement for a tri-national frigate, to be procured under the name Project Horizon. Horizon itself had been developed from the ashes of an earlier failure—the multinational NATO Frigate Replacement for the 1990s that had been terminated, apparently with few regrets, in September 1989.