The order is part of the acquisition program of 4 U212 Near Future Submarines
Fincantieri press release
Such contract, in which Fincantieri will act as prime contractor, envisages an option for 2 additional units and is part of the new U212NFS (Near Future Submarine) acquisition program of the Italian Navy. The total contract value for the first two vessels, including relevant logistics support, amounts to 1.35 billion euros.
The project is an evolution of the U212A program carried out in cooperation with the German thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, which resulted in the production of 4 submarines for Italy – “Todaro”, “Scirè”, “Venuti” and “Romei”, delivered by Fincantieri between 2006 and 2017 – and 6 for Germany. According to highly reliable analyses, the technological content of these air-independent propulsion submarines determined the shift in the balance between nuclear and conventional vessels in the postwar period.
With the first two deliveries scheduled for 2027 and 2029, the U212NFS program stems from the need to secure adequate underwater spatial surveillance and control capacity, considering the future complex scenarios of underwater operations and that the operational lifetime of the 4 “Sauro” class submarines, currently in service, is drawing near. It also aims at upholding and further developing Fincantieri’s acquired strategic and innovative industrial know-how, as well as consolidating the technological lead attained by the company and its supply chain, enhancing the presence of technologically-advanced component parts developed by Italian industries on board.
Our national submarines carry out many different tasks for the benefit of the community on a daily basis, responding to requests coming from the Government or the Nation’s main Alliances, NATO and EU. They range from purely military missions to operations pertaining to freedom of navigation, anti-piracy, keeping the energy supply routes safe (due to the presence of seabed resources or underwater infrastructure), observance of international law, fighting terrorism, defending external borders, and safeguarding maritime infrastructure, including essential off-shore and underwater infrastructure, not least detecting the presence of whales.
Fincantieri CEO, Giuseppe Bono, commented:
“We are proud that the recognition of our skills by the Italian Navy and the German partner has brought about a change in the relations, thus securing – on the one hand – our role as design authority, on the other as prime contractor. We are going to take a real technological leap forward compared to the submarines of the previous class, starting with the design and the combat system developed along with Leonardo, which we are in charge of integrating on-board. This will allow Italy to continue being a main actor among the limited group of Countries that can build such advanced units”. Bono also added: “Once again, a qualified supply chain, made up of small and medium-sized enterprises of the sector, will benefit from the driving effect triggered by our activities, which will in turn generate manifest economic growth in terms of GDP, employment, and research and development advancement”.
Naval News comments (by Luca Peruzzi):
About Type U212 NFS — Near Future Submarine
The Italian Navy currently has four U-212A Todaro-class submarines in service: the Todaro (delivered in 2006), the Sciré (2007), the Pietro Venuti (2016) and the Romeo Romei (2017).
Conceived to maintain advanced capabilities in the underwater domain with a renewed national R&D and industrial cluster participation, and to replace four in-service updated Sauro-class boats maintaining an eight platforms submarine fleet, the NFS program will sees the procurement contract award for two boats plus option for additional two boats in addition to in-service and logistic support. The program funded by the Minister of Economic Development is subdivided into two tranche, as indicated by information provided to the Parliament in 2018 and 2019: the first tranche regards the development and procurement of the first two boats with the related technical-logistic in-service support (10 years) while the second tranche is related to new technologies development and the procurement of the second batch of two boats and the related in-service technical-logistic support. The first tranche also include the technological update of the training ad operational support systems. According to the multi-year planning document 2020-2022 released last October, the funded procurement cost of €1,35 billion indicated in the notice regards the first tranche of the program. The overall program cost, according to the same document, is today indicated in €2,68 billion. No update information on the program schedule was given, but Naval News understood that if the contract will be awarded around year-end, the first U212 NFS could be delivered in 2027 while the second will follow in 2029.
U212 NFS technical characteristics
As a national development of the U212A submarines already in service under the joint German-Italian procurement and support program, the U212 NFS AIP boats will have an hydrodynamic enhanced hull design with an central body 1,2 meters longer compared to in-service platforms, and including a propeller optimized cap combined with pre-swirled rudders, a fluoropolymer foul release hull coating to reduce fuel consumption, all contributing to reduce the acoustic signature, alongside a new emerging blowing system.
The new platforms could potentially also take advantage in the future of the on-going revolutionary Submarine UnderWater Invisible through MetaMaterials (SUWIMM) R&D program. The Italian MoD invested in a nationally-developed energy storage system centred on new-generation Lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery system integrated by Fincantieri and provided by Italian FiB/FAMM company and adds to the in-service AIP propulsion system on the first two new boats to further extend underwater operational endurance. The following batch could benefit from a second-generation fuel cell-based AIP R&D program. All program’s platforms will have a new longer low-profile sail design with seven electrically-actuated mast-raising systems from Calzoni/L3Harris. The new boats will also feature a new integrated combat system developed and mainly provided by Italian industry alongside a new or enhanced integrated platform management system and up-to-date Avio Aero autopilot. With a new combat information centre arrangement, it will accommodate a new combat management system provided by Leonardo, managing a sensors package centred on an enhanced sonar suite, new masts with new-generation RESM/CESM suite provided by Elettronica and communications equipment, in addition to a new weapon systems package.
U212 NFS weapons
The U212 NFS will feature six 533 mm tubes for the Leonardo Black Shark Advanced (BSA) heavy-weight torpedoes as well as, in the pipeline to be approved and funded, land attack cruise missiles and UUVs. As we previously reported, the Italian Chief of Navy highlighted the need for a credible deep strike capability to be provided by submarines (and surface platforms), which is under defense review. The DPP 2020-22 include a long-term unfunded and unspecified service-provided ‘Deep Strike New Generation’ capability.
Italy’s U212 NFS program will provide Fincantieri and Italian industry, a strong export push in the underwater platform sector as well as in support of the on-going cooperation in submarines with Germany and potentially other customers.