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Italy launches fourth PPA patrol ship, first in “full” configuration

Fourth Italian Navy PPA ship ITS Giovanni delle Bande Nere launched on February 12, 2022
Future ITS Giovanni delle Bande Nere ahead of its launch on February 12. Photo: Fincantieri

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri launched the Italian Navy’s fourth multipurpose offshore patrol ship (PPA – Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura) “Giovanni delle Bande Nere” at its Riva Trigoso yard on February 12.

The fourth unit, which is scheduled for delivery in 2024, is the first in “full” configuration, which means it will be equipped for a complete defense ability. It is also the first to be supplied with generator sets by Isotta Fraschini Motori, a Fincantieri subsidiary specialized in the production of diesel engines.

Italy is building a total of seven ships in the class, in three different configurations. The “light” configuration is equipped for patrolling tasks and contains basic self-defense capabilities, the “light+” adds the anti-air capabilities while the “full” version is capable of handling three-dimensional threats (air, surface and underwater).

The light version has a complete set of artillery and is developed with the “fitted for” approach that makes it able to quickly deploy growing operational capabilities. The Light+ version adds the missile firing capability with actuators planned also for ballistic missile defense. The full version will be able to operate in every naval warfare domain.

The 133-meter vessels will be capable of operating high-speed vessels such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) up to 11 meters long through lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern. Crewed by 145 sailors, the ships will have a top speed of more than 31 knots, and a hangar that will be capable of accommodating two NH90 helicopters.

When it comes to armament, PPA ships will field OTO Melara 127/64 LW Vulcano and 76/62 medium-caliber guns. In the full configuration, the ships will carry the SAAM-ESD surface anti-air missile-extended self-defense (SAAM-ESD) system and the Teseo anti-ship missile system.

According to the Italian Navy, the first three ships are undergoing sea trials, while the lead ship in the class, future ITS Paolo Thaon di Revel was scheduled to be commissioned by the navy in November 2021, following a multi-month delay. The Italian Navy is yet to make an announcement on the commissioning of the ship.