DefenseNews is reporting Italy will soon award a contract for new Patrol Ships.
While a bit longer, 135 meters in length compared to 127 for the NSC, the Italian ships will be the same displacement as the Bertholf class, 4,500 tons.
The initial contract will be for five ships in a “light” (patrol) configuration and one in “heavy” (frigate) configuration, with an option for four additional heavy versions.
There are a number of interesting things about this class.
The ships were designed in-house (I assume to the preliminary level) which appears to have it made quicker to get the ships into production. They expect to launch the first ships in 2016 or early 2017.
They are expected to have a top speed of 34 to 35 knots, so I presume they will have two gas turbine while the NSC has one. It is not clear if they will have a single complex gearbox like the NCSs that all allows any or all of her engines to power both screws or if they will go with a simpler arrangement with separate gear boxes for each shaft. It is also unknown how powerful their diesel cruise engines will be.
The radar will be fixed units. According to the manufacturer, Selex, “The KRONOS radar exploits Selex ES’s advanced Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) technology. It is able to perform surveillance, tracking, threat evaluation and fire control against multiple threats, simultaneously and automatically, at all altitudes.”
Even the “light” ships carry both a 5″ forward and a 76mm on the roof of the hangar. I would like to think that they have the 5″ for the reasons I outlined here, but the Italian 5″/64 has additional capability, the Volcano round. The two medium caliber guns also gives them a degree of redundancy.
They also have a degree of modularity.
“Both versions will offer two modular zones, one in the center of the deck and one underneath the rear flight deck. The central zone will be able to host vehicles or cargo containers that can be lifted aboard by on-board cranes. In a combat situation, that space can be used to carry large rigid-hull inflatable boats for special operations, the source said.”
Even the financing arrangements are innovative with bank loan to be repaid over 20 years.