Italian legislators begin military procurement for frigates, armored vehicles

ROME – Italian politicians are working hard this month to sign a series of new procurement plans including naval frigates and amphibious vehicles as Italy’s booming defense budget spurs a military procurement.

Topping the list are two 10,000-ton DDX destroyers with a total value of 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), followed by 64 new amphibious vehicles and 347 VTMM 2 armored vehicles for the army.

The rush to approve it by defense committees of the lower house and upper house of the Italian senate follows a series of bumper defense budgets, culminating in procurement spending of 6.76 billion euros ($7.66 billion) last year, 24% increase over the previous year.

At the end of last year, the commissions signed a payment of 1.4 billion euros ($1.59) to upgrade four Italian B767 tankers as well as purchase two more aircraft, increasing the Air Force’s tanker fleet. army to six.

Money is also freed up to convert six Gulfstream G550 basic aircraft that have been purchased for early warning or signaling intelligence missions, while 80 million euros ($90 million) will be spent over five years. for the “Praetorian” special forces version of the C-27J Tactical Transporter.

Nearly 4 million euros ($4.5 million) has also been approved to provide Italian special forces with ammunition, while the army will receive more VTLM 2 vehicles, among the programs. other.

The congressional approval doesn’t mean the total cost of the procurement will be released immediately – it just allows the defense department to begin tranches of payments allocated to new programs that can be paid off in installments. for several years.

But the numerous requests for approval from congress reflect the confidence of ministry planners that the budget will continue to grow.

What is driving the increase in spending has drawn many explanations from analysts.

“The increase reflects the growing competition in the Mediterranean and the lessening of the US presence in the region,” said Germano Dottori, scientific adviser to Limes, an Italian geopolitical publication. .

He added that a pivotal moment occurred in October when General Enzo Vecciarelli, the outgoing army chief of staff, addressed the Italian parliament.

“He said Italy needs to be ready to carry out autonomous activities as well as joint activities with other countries, and that is a new thing for Italy,” Mr. Dottori said.

But this increase is also due to the growing attention of Italy’s domestic defense industry and Italy’s technological autonomy.

Alessandro Marrone, head of defense programs at the Rome think tank IAI, said that helped get the same defense secretary in office for three years.

Lorenzo Guerini was appointed by then prime minister Giuseppe Conte in 2019, but was reappointed by Mario Draghi, who formed a new government early last year.

“Guerini had time to articulate and execute a vision that recognized international tensions and he pushed the military to invest in systems for high-profile scenarios,” he said.

The increased budget, he added, has proven resistant to a two-year increase in healthcare spending during Covid. “That allows procurement officials to launch programs with a medium to long-term view,” he said.

Michele Nones, vice president of IAI, who pointed out that most of the defense cash is being spent on domestic programs.

“There is a push across Europe for domestic programs to help boost the domestic economy and respond quickly to requests that have been put in place for too long,” he said.

“That has led to a decline in European joint programs, which could harm interoperability,” he added.

Tom Kington is an Italian correspondent for Defense News. Italian legislators begin military procurement for frigates, armored vehicles

Jake Nichol

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