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Marina Militare Italiana (Italian Navy) - Modernization

In the early years of the 21st Century the MMI's fleet included the two 5,400t "Durand de La Penne" class destroyers (1994-95), the two 4,500t "Audace" class destroyers (1972-73), the eight 3,200t "Maestrale" class frlgates (1982-86), one or two remaining (out of a class of 4) 2,500t "Lu po" class frigates (1977-80), the four "Artigliere" (or "Soldati") class frigates (completed in the mid-80's for Iraq but never delivered, and picked up by the MMI il) 1994-96) and the eight 1,300t "Minerva" class corvettes (1987-91), for a total of 25-26 ships.

In a simple ceremony attended by the Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, Admiral Angelo Mariani, the Italian navy 25 November 1997 accepted the 13th and final AV-8B Harrier II Plus assembled at Alenia's Aeronautics Division here. This brings to 16 the total number of Harrier II Plus aircraft and two TAV-8B two-seat trainers flown by the Italian navy. Italy, Spain and the United States collaborated to develop and produce the radar-equipped Harrier II Plus, which also features night-attack capabilities. AV-8B prime contractor Boeing worked with Alenia in Turin and with Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A. (CASA) in Seville, Spain, to set up final assembly lines for their nations' respective aircraft.

By 2003 a new class of four l,600t "Comandante Cigala Fulgosi" (NUMC program) class corvettes / helicopter OPV's were now entering service. They were built between 1999 and 2002, and though they were in theory replacing the 5 "Nibbio" class missile hydrofoils which retired around 1999, in fact they constituted, through their role and to a certain extent their capabilities, the planned but never built 3rd batch of 4 "Minerva" class corvettes. They were intended te increase the presence, surveillance and anti-surface interdiction capabilities of the fleet.

The main program for surface combatants as of 2003 was the New-Generation Frigates program (FNG), also known as the Frgates Europennes Multi-Missions (FREMM). A total of 10 units were to be built, in two versions with a common core of capabilities: 4 ASW frigates, and 6 ASuW/land-attack frigates. The program is a joint Italian-French program (France was planning to build 8 ASW and 9 land-attack FMM ships). The first of these 5,5OO ton Italian frigates was expected to be completed as soon as 2008, though in fact it was not launched until 2011. The 10th and last unit was toenter service in 2017, though this slipped to 2021. They were to replace the whole current generation' of frigates, and in particular the 8 "Maestrale" class frigates. The 4 "Artigliere" frigates and 8 "Minerva" corvettes still had a good number of years of service before them, and there was no replacement program launched.

The construction of the first of two 7,000 ton Andrea Doria class AAW destroyers (Horizon program) started in 2002, with the first expected to enter service in 2007, while the 2nd unit will follow in late 2008 or early 2009. The replaced the two "Audace" class destroyers. It was initially expected that a second pair would be ordered in the future, with ships entering service around 2015, and that Italy whould receive a total of 6 ships. The goal was to have four AAW-specialized units in service, but in fact only the first pair were ordered. The two "Durand de La Penne" class DDG's were sxpected to be around for some time, and would get a Mid-Life Update involving the sensors and C41 components.

By 2003 it seemed unlikely that the goal of 15 MCM vessels would be achieved, as the new-generation multirole MCM vessels program did not have a very high priority (and probably rightly so, given the other more urgent and important requirements). A new class of 9 bigger ships is planned for the future, in order to replace initially the "Lerici" but later also most if not ail of the "Gaeta" class units, except perhaps the most recent ones that entered service in the late 1990's. As of 2003 a new MCM command support shp was expected to enter service around 2009, replacng ITS Alpino, but that had not happened as of 2013. In the absence of a dedicated second unit of that type, the role of that second unit may perhaps be played in the future by one of the new multirole support ships that wll eventually be built.

Two salvage/sub rescue ships were in service as of 2003: the very old ITS Proteo, and the more modern and still very capable 3,000t ITS Anteo. A new ship was expected to enter service around 2010 to replace the ITS Proteo, but that did not happen. The ITS Magnaghi 2,000t hydrographic survey ship built in the 1970's will also needed to be replaced in the future. The new 3,000t SIGINT platform (ITS Elettra, NUSP program) and that design may constitute the basis for the construction of several multipurpose units that will be able to operate as MCM support, sub rescue, hydrographic survey or special forces support ships.

Under the Defense white paper "Investing In Security - Transforming the Italian Military" published in early 2006, the priorities established by the Long-Range Plan included enhanced capabilities for projection and sustainment of Forces at sea far from the homeland. This requirement demands a new different configuration of the naval component, which becomes smaller in its dimension yet more complete and capable of carrying out deterrence and rapid intervention operations in offshore areas in response to crisis situations, even without the support of bases or facilities provided by third Countries.

The amphibious projection capability will be modernized and enhanced by progressively substituting the current San Marco and San Giorgio class LPDs with new and larger units. Furthermore, the aircraft carrier Garibaldi will be replaced with an LHD/LHA that will have the capability of embarking a large Amphibious Force and a number of support aircraft, and will be equipped with Command and Control capabilities for the management of complex air maritime and amphibious operations (MCC/(C)JTF/CATF/CLF level).

The Power projection capacities will be based on board the aircraft carrier Cavour which has the capability of deploying a mix of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. The backbone of the front line units will be composed of 12-13 destroyers and frigates with the capacity to carry out antiaircraft defense, ASW and in-depth attack of land targets; these units, belonging to the Orizzonte and Rinascimento classes (FREMM), will be developed according to a plan that stipulates a reduction in numbers but at the same time an enhancement of the operational capabilities of the single platform.

Logistical support at sea will be guaranteed by a new class of refueling ships that will eventually replace the current Stromboli and Etna classes. The transportation and support capabilities of the Naval Air Forces will be enhanced by the introduction of the new EH-101 and NH helicopters. The Italian Navy has ordered a total of 56 NH90s (46 NFH and 10 TTH units) which will replace old helicopters for a variety of roles including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and utility. In August 2009 the Italian Navy took delivery of its 21st AW101 three engine medium/heavy helicopter. This Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) configured aircraft was the first unit of the final AW101 batch for the service, which had committed to a total of 24 AW101s. The updating of the AV8-B aircraft will improve their fleet protection capabilities as well as their air power projection while awaiting their replacement presumably with the JSF.

The introduction of the Todaro (U212A) class submarines will bring major progress in quality and capability to the submarine component which will nevertheless be downsized in relation to the new operational scenarios. The foreseeable reduced requirements in the sector of submarine warfare will at the same time require a reduced commitment by the fleet of naval patrols, which will be gradually reduced. New emphasis will be placed on wider surveillance and control capabilities in relation to the waters adjacent to the national territory, as well as on support of projection operations which will be developed according to an integrated and joint perspective within the framework of the Joint Surveillance and Command System, already mentioned among the strategic multipliers.

The development of the projection capabilities will also entail a reduction in the second line units, the capabilities of which will nevertheless be enhanced in the new classes so that they will be able to provide a greater contribution to the control of the lines of communication and support to the projected forces. The capacity to furnish support to submarines and minesweepers will also be enhanced, as will the capacity to conduct oceanographic explorations.

In synthesis, the goal was the development of a more flexible and versatile naval component, capable of achieving greater operational effects even inland and at a great distance from the homeland. At the same time, the capability to provide specific contributions to lesserscale operations will be increased, by means of new units with more comprehensive capabilities.

By 2015 planned construction included six multipurpose ships worth 436,7 mn (USD 663.7 million) each by 2029, one supply vessel worth 325 million ($ 494 million) by 2018, a landing ship helicopter-dock worth 844 million ($ 1,28 billion) by 2018, two high-speed vessels for the special forces of 20 million ($ 30.4 million) each.

The multi-year program for the renewal of the Italian Navys fleet foresees the construction, besides the LSS, of one transport and landing unit (LHD or Landing Helicopter Dock) - under construction in this same shipyard with delivery in 2022 - as well as seven Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Ships (PPA), with other three in option. The launch of the first is scheduled in 2019, with delivery in 2021. The following deliveries will take place in 2022, 2023, 2024 (two units), 2025 and 2026.

The fundamental characteristic common to all three classes of ships is their high level of innovation providing them with a considerable degree of efficiency and flexibility in serving different mission profiles. In particular, these are dual use vessels, meaning that they may be used for both standard military purposes and those in favour of the community (as for example for civil protection), and they also have a low environmental impact thanks to a state-of-the-art auxiliary propulsion system generating a low level of pollution emissions (electric engines).

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Page last modified: 21-11-2018 12:19:15 ZULU