Surface Forces: December 8, 1999


Britain has designated Marconi Electronic Systems (set to merge into British Aerospace) as the prime contractor for the Type-45 Air Defense Destroyer. The British expect to build 16 ships of this type, which will form the backbone of the Royal Navy. Total cost will reach $10 billion. The first ship is to enter service in 2007. The Type-45 replaces the failed multinational Horizon Frigate Program. The Type-45 destroyers are to include a 48-cell Sylver vertical-launch system, Aster-15 and Aster-30 missiles, and the Sampson multifunction radar. The vertical launcher can handle cruise missiles or anti-ballistic missiles, but the British say they have no requirement for such weapons. --Stephen V Cole

The Italian Coast Guard has acquired the 391-ton patrol boat Saettia. Built in 1985 as a private venture by Fincantieri, it never found a buyer and has been in storage for several years. Saettia is much bigger than any other ship in the Italian Coast Guard, the largest of which was previously 205 tons. Saettia has been reduced from its original armament (eight anti-ship missiles, one 76mm cannon, one 40mm gun) to a single 25mm gun. The Italian Coast Guard is using Saettia to test the concept of large patrol boats able to work farther from shore, and plans to buy at least five ships of this size. --Stephen V Cole


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