The Navy was an active participant with other NATO allies in a multi-nation NATO frigate program known as NFR-90. Under study since the early 1980s, the program was established by a 25 January 1988 memorandum of understanding for the project definition phase of a NATO frigate replacement for the 1990s (NFR 90). The ultimate configuration of NFR-90 and its full capabilities were the subject of extensive study and debate. It was intended to be "stealthy" with shaped superstructure, radar absorbent materials, advanced degaussing and sound isolation mounting for engines and auxiliaries to reduce electromagnetic, radar cross section and noise signatures. The ship was also been intended to include modular component groupings in the platform and combat systems to easily re-configure the ship for a specific mission or to meet a projected threat.
However eventually the decision regarding eventual procurement of the NFR-90 was in the negative. US Navy studies such as the Surface Combatant Force Requirement Study did not define any need for a single mission ship such as the frigate. Consequently there are no frigates planned in the Navy's five-year shipbuilding program.
Following the termination of NFR90, the HORIZON Frigate Program and in light of reductions in their defense budgets the French, British and Italians collaborated to develop the HORIZON Program in order to meet their objectives of substantial savings. Similarly the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany combined their frigate programs in the Trilateral Frigate Program to achieve cost reductions through the development of common components and subsystems.