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The 'Lupo' class frigates were designed primarily as convoy escorts, with some surface warfare capability. Lupo-class frigates were the results of a long period of study led by both the Italian Navy and Cantieri Navali Riuniti. They were able to accomplish several missions, ranging from the defence against naval and submarine forces to the escort of convoys. The class consists of Lupo, Sagittario, Perseo and Orsa [Wolf, Sagittarius, Perseus, and Bear]; first units equipped with surface-to-surface missile system, especially set up to counter the threat caused by other similar opposing units; fitted with self-defence however appropriate anti-submarine and anti-aircraft armament.

To reduce the ship's complement, the design's machinery was highly automated, and with a speed of 35 knots it was one of the fastest warships afloat. Although smaller than contemporary American and British designs, the 'Lupos' were heavily armed. The frigates of the Lupo class are multi-role units based on extended studies by the Italian Navy and the United Naval Shipyards. They are designed to for anti-submarine and antiship protection for supply convoys and naval forces, and to support amphibious operations.

The OTO Melara Compatto 127/54, which is an improved version of a smaller weapon and is designed particularly for anti-ship warfare, has achieved good sales successes, equipping, in addition to the Audace and all vessels of the Lupo and Maestrale type advanced-technology ships such as the four Canadian frigates of the Iroquois class. The Albatros, largely derived from the NATO Sea Sparrow system, can be offered with Aspide missiles (also available in an air-to-air version) as AA missile components on the export Lupo and on even smaller vessels such as the 800-tonne helicopter-carrier corvettes of the Esmeraldas class. The same was also the case for the ILAS-3 shipborne light antisubmarine torpedo system based on the A.244 type (324 mm) developed from he American Mk 46 torpedoes and built and marketed by Whitehead Motofides.

With the appearance of new gas turbines having a total power of up to 20,000-28,000 hp, plants of the C0D0G type (combined diesel or gas turbine) received wide dissemination on ships of various navies. One of their substantial advantages is contained in the simplicity of the kinematic scheme. Full speed is provided by gas turbines alone, and the diesels are cut off using overrunning clutches with the change-over from cruising speed to full speed. The relationships of the powers of engines which provide cruising speed and full speed are within narrow limits and do not exceed 22-24 percent. Controllable-pitch propellers are used on all ships with plants of this type, which permits excluding the reverse-reduction gear from the scheme, simplifying it, and decreasing the weight and volume occupied. Guided missile frigates of the "Bremen" (FRG), "Maestrale" and "Lupo" (Italy), and "Ishikari" and "Yubari" (Japan) types belong among the most modern ships equipped with CODOG combined power plants.

Towards the end of the 1970s, while the Italian industry (especially the shipbuilding industry) managed to obtain major foreign contracts (in 1974 contracts were signed for the sale of four Lupo type frigates to the Peruvian Navy) and while the Navy Law for the strengthening of the Italian Navy provided industry with-the investments and :onrracts which were to enable a qualitative leap forward, cooperative projects also got under way. By 1982 four had been ordered by the Italian navy, as well as foreign navies such as the Peruvian, Venezuelan, Iraqi and Egyptian Navies, which had ordered a total of 16 ships.

All these vessels were produced by the Italian naval shipyards, and in spite of the rapid growth of German competition, the Italian naval shipbuilding industry still provides a range sufficient to cover the main requirements of the purchasing navies. An example is provided by the contract, signed with the hoqi Navy for the sale of four Lupo type frigates, six Esmeraldas-class corvettes similar and a logistic ship of the Vesuvio type, of which two were already in service with the Italian Navy.

By the late 1980s the naval picture in Greece was characterized by the fact that the entire destroyer flotilla as well as the bulk of frigates, minehunters and landing ships were completely obsolete. Construction of four new frigates was being discussed interest was expressed in the MEKO 200 offered by Blohm + Voss; the Italian Lupo; an improved Leander, designed by Vosper Thornycroft; and a design offered by Todd Pacific Shipyards. However, it was considered important that the ships were constructed in Greece, presumably at the Hellenic shipyard. It was expected that one will be built abroad, while the others will be built at national docks.

The design has been successfully exported: six 'Lupos' were in service with Venezuela and four with Peru. Iraq ordered four 'Lupos' during the Iran-Iraq war. Eventually completed, they were since acquired by the Italian navy. The seven-fold increase in Iranian oil revenues in 1974 resulted in a "the sky is the limit" attitude in Iran towards arms purchases. Subsequent orders included several systems capable of substantially increasing (qualitatively as well as quantitatively) Iran's long range strike capability. Included within this category of weaponry were orders for four Spruance class destroyers, six 209 class submarines, twelve fast patrol boats with Harpoon missiles, and six Lupo class frigates - none of which was ever delivered.

Peru, after a spending blitz in 1995 (18 SU-25s and 18 MIG-29s from Belarus), purchased almost no new equipment over the next ten years. The only exceptions occurred in 1998 with the purchase of three more MIG-29s and two Lupo-class frigates from Italy. Peru's 4 LUPO-Class frigates and 6 fast attack missile craft were the most lethal naval units on the western South American coasts because of their speed, versatility, and weapons systems. Peru used the enhanced capability of the MK57 MOD 10 NSSMS on its four LUPO class (aka Aguirre) Class frigates purchased from Italy in 2004. The frigates had MK57 MOD 2 NATO SEASPARROW Systems modified to fire the ASPIDE air defense missile. The systems retain the ability to fire the RIM-7 SEASPARROW missile, and Peru intended to move from the ASPIDE missile to the RIM-7 SEASPARROW in a future purchase.

RAN-1 OS is a F-band (3 to 4 GHz.) air and surface surveillance radar manufactured in Italy by Alenia Elsag Sistemi Navali. It is on boardof the Lupo class frigates from the Venezuelan Navy. It is suitable for installation on medium tonnage ships, such as destroyers, frigates and corvettes. The main features are high elevation coverage, high data rates and high precision/resolution. Also, it uses a coded waveform in conjunction with digital processing of received signals. Typical operational roles include air warning against aircraft and missiles, direction of both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, surface surveillance, navigation and direction of surface-to-surface missiles.

With the Lupo type, with a sophisticated weapons system basically designed for anti-ship combat, Italy achieved notable sales success, and larger units, of the 3500-tonnes Maestrale class, derived from the Lupo and with more extensive capacities in the increasingly important area of antisubmarine warfare. Maestrale-class frigates were built as an improvement of the Lupo-class vessels; which had been realized for both the Italian Navy and several foreign Navies. With respect to Lupo. Maestrale had an heavier displacement and a more powerful armament for ASW.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:46 ZULU