SeaFuture 2023 puts spotlight on Italian naval programmes
Between 5 and 8 June, the eighth edition of the SeaFuture exhibition took place at Italy's La Spezia naval base.
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.
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.
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