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SeaFuture 2023 puts spotlight on Italian naval programmes

20th June 2023 - 16:00 GMT | by Defence Insight Team in London


Among the ships on display in La Spezia were the FREMM frigate Marceglia (F597) and the U212A SSK Romeo Romei (S529). (Photo: Giovanni Rasio)

The recent SeaFuture event highlighted some of Italy's most important submarine, surface ship and naval aviation procurements. Shephard Defence Insight puts these latest programme developments in detailed context.

Between 5 and 8 June, the eighth edition of the SeaFuture exhibition took place at Italy's La Spezia naval base.

During the four-day show, the Italian Navy showcased the Thaon di Revel PPA, the Marceglia ASW-configured FREMM frigate, and the Romei U212A submarine.

The Pattugliatori Polivalenti d'Altura (PPA) class of seven multi-purpose OPVs is being built to replace four Soldati-class frigates and eight Minerva-class corvettes. A $3.89 billion contract was awarded by OCCAR to a consortium of Fincantieri and Leonardo for the construction of six PPAs, with the option for an additional four and one logistic support ship (LSS).

A contract for a seventh unit was exercised in November 2015, and the contract value increased to $4.33 billion.

Italy ordered ten FREMM frigates, but the ninth and tenth, Bianchi and Schergat, were sold to Egypt in 2020 as part of a $1.3 billion deal. Works on the two hulls that will replace the ships began in 2021, and they are expected to be commissioned by 2025.

In March 2023, Italy's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Adm Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, confirmed that two additional FREMMs will be budgeted in the 2023-2025 defence planning document.

During SeaFuture, steel was cut for the Italian Navy's second U212 Near Future Submarine (NFS). Three boats have already been ordered, and a contract amendment for the fourth is planned for 2024.

Italy is also in the process of procuring two new destroyers (DDX), three amphibious ships (LXD), eight corvettes (EPC/EPX), and a class of new minehunters. Defence Insight estimates that the programmes could require a total investment of almost $12.4 billion, and 30 new vessels could join the fleet over the next 10-15 years.

Compared to other navies, the Italy's is the only blue-water force lacking UAS and ASW maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). However, with the APR Imbarcati programme, Rome is investing $180 million to expand the surveillance capacity of surface units and optimise the use of conventional, crewed aircraft. Shephard estimates that up to 42 UAVs could be procured.

A new version of the AWHero, one of the potential contenders for the APR Imbarcati programme, was unveiled at SeaFuture. The updated platform features modifications to the airframe, a heavy fuel powerplant and sensor modularity.

The latest edition of SeaFuture saw the participation of 300 exhibiting companies and welcomed 71 foreign naval and defence procurement delegations.

Defence Insight Team


Defence Insight Team

The latest data insights and analysis brought to you by our dedicated Defence Insight Team, …

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