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Italian parliament green lights construction of third Near Future Submarine

A graphic depiction of the Italian Navy's Near Future Submarine. (Fincantieri)

The Italian parliament has approved construction of the third Type 212 Near Future Submarine (NFS), marking another milestone in the programme.

The Italian Navy is planning to procure four boats under the NFS programme, which passed its critical design review in early 2023.

The first unit was laid down at Fincantieri's Muggiano shipyard in La Spezia in January 2022 and the boat is expected to be launched in 2026. Meanwhile, a steel-cutting ceremony for the second boat is scheduled for 6 June, the shipbuilder said. Fincantieri is building the first pair under a contract awarded via the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement: OCCAR) on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Defence in February 2021 that includes options for two more boats.

Under current timelines the units of the first pair are expected to be delivered to the navy in 2027 and 2029. The third submarine is planned to be delivered at the end of 2030.

The NFS design is an evolution of the Italian Navy's existing fleet of four Todaro (Type 212A)-class air-independent propulsion (AIP) SSKs. Design improvements include a lengthened hull (by 3.1 m), a larger sail (to accommodate electrically hoisted non-penetrating masts), an improved fuel cell AIP system with a higher degree of local content, and lithium ion batteries for energy storage. The boats are being equipped with a new combat management system supplied by Leonardo, a new electronic warfare suite supplied by Elettronica, and updated sonar and communication suites.

They will also be able to deploy unmanned underwater vehicles, Leonardo Black Shark Advanced heavyweight torpedoes, and will feature a strike missile capability.

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