A new lithium-ion battery system that will potentially be installed on the Italian Navy’s new Type 212 Near Future Submarines (NFS) has completed a system design review.
According to OCCAR, the international organization for joint armament cooperation responsible for delivering the first two Type 212 NFS submarines currently on order, the milestone marks a mandatory step forward in the development, possible production and integration of the new battery system onboard of the U212 NFS fleet.
SDR core objectives were safety and the increase of the operating capacity of the Lithium battery system, according to the organization.
OCCAR said the next significant step would be the Critical Design Review that completes the design of this energy storage system in line with the Italian Navy operational requirements.
Compared to conventional lead-acid battery systems, those based on lithium-ion technology are capable of storing significantly more energy, allowing the submarines to stay submerged for longer periods of time.
Should Italy proceed with the installation of these systems, it would be joining the navies of Japan and South Korea, who have already embraced the technology for its submarines. Japan already has three subs with li-ion batteries in service, while South Korea has started work on two such boats. It is worth noting that the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has also embraced the technology, having receiving its first dry combat submersible (DCS) equipped with the lithium-ion fault tolerant (LiFT) battery system in 2020.
Italy is building two U212 NFS submarines under a 1.35 billion euro deal with Fincantieri from February 2021. The Type U212 NFS is an evolution of the first four Type 212 air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines that were delivered to the Italian Navy in cooperation with Germany’s thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) between 2006 and 2017.
According to Fincantieri, the first two subs are scheduled for delivery in 2027 and 2029, in time to replace the four Sauro-class submarines whose operational operational lifetime is coming to a close after 40 years of operation.
At 59 meters, the NFS boats will be some three meters longer than their predecessors and will displace around 1,600 tons.