New FREMM with ASuW/ASW capabilities for Italian Navy

    WORLD  28 November 2023 - 20:03

    The ninth Bergamini-class Multi-Mission European Frigate (FREMM) being built by Orizzonte Sistemi Navali (OSN), the joint venture between Fincantieri (51 per cent) and Leonardo (49 per cent) for the Italian Navy under commission within the framework of the Italian-French international cooperation programme managed by OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement), was technically launched at the Italian shipbuilder’s Riva Trigoso (Genoa) integrated shipyard on November 24.

    The Spartaco Schergat (F 598) frigate is the first of two FREMMs in a new ASuW/ASW hybrid configuration which are under procurement by the Italian MoD’s Naval Armament Directorate (NAVARM) to replace the two FREMM GP (General Purpose) sold to Egypt by Fincantieri. Based on the requirement to enhance the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities of Italian Navy, the Spartaco Schergat’s and the follow-on Emilio Bianchi’s steel cut ceremony were celebrated respectively in February 2021 and October 2021. After its launch, the Schergat was transferred to Muggiano shipyard (La Spezia) for final fitting-out and trials, the latter at-sea trials beginning are planned within the second quarter 2024. Delivery to the Italian Navy is planned for the second quarter 2025, according to NavalNews
     
    Being the backbone of the Italian Navy fleet as highlighted by the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, admiral Giuseppe Berutti Bergotto, the service needs a sufficient number of FREMM platforms which have demonstrated high flexibility and availability. Having stressed the success and importance of the Italian-French FREMM programme according to General Joachim Sucker, Director of OCCAR, the history of Italian Navy’s platforms is continuing with new chapters. Its design is evolving through these two frigates to reach a new platform standard with the future FREMM Evo (Evolved) as remarked by General Claudio Graziano, Chairman of Fincantieri. A next generation frigate also called FREMM 2.0 is however in the pipeline as remarked by Dario Deste, head of the military vessel division in Fincantieri. 
     
    New FREMM configuration
     
    FREMM Spartaco Schergat

    The two FREMMs come in a new configuration which combines the hull and superstructures design and mission suite of the GP (General Purpose) or ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare) configured Italian Navy’s FREMMs with the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) suite and capabilities of the same service’s ASW-configured ones, together with the replacement and/or enhancements to onboard systems to keep them lasting the lifespan of new frigates.

    Among the main enhancements to the platform systems, the ship management system (SMS) has been taken by Fincantieri NexTech to the latest hardware and software configuration already used on the newest naval platform, namely PPA, LHD, LSS and OPV. The new frigates also incorporates all the platform improvement introduced with the previous in service ships, such as the new digital damage control panel station, alongside new full LED lightning.
     
    The new FREMMs share the same Leonardo SADOC 3 CMS (Combat Management System) of the in-service GP/ASW-configured platforms. The CMS has been empowered with the software package and functionalities related to the anti-submarine warfare capabilities alongside the anti-surface warfare (AsuW) ones. The communications suite is however new sharing the same software defined radios (SDRs), SATCOMs and multi data link processor used by the latest in-service platforms such as PPAs and others, including two SITEP Italia SATCOM (UHF band) antennas installed aside of the secondary mast. In addition to the Thales 4110CL bow-mounted sonar integrated with the Leonardo obstacle and mine avoidance sonar installed on both GP and ASW configured FREMMs, the new frigates will incorporate the same panoramic multibeam echo sounder and the Thales 4249 (CAPTAS 4) suite including the low-frequency active variable depth sonar and the multi-function passive towed array (MFTA) for both submarine and torpedoes detection, in addition to the two anti-torpedo decoy launchers, as used on the ASW FREMMs.
     
    Due to the installation of the CAPTAS 4 VDS in place of the 11 m RHIB mounted on the GP variant, the new frigates will be able to launch and recover the same length boats on the two ship side stations.
     
     
    Another key difference in term of combat package regards the integrated electronic warfare suite (IEWS) which belongs to the same new generation family developed and installed by ELT Group (Elettronica) on board the PPAs and the LHD. The IEWS passive suite consists of the RESM component whose antennas are mounted as in the previous class ships under the radome of the multifunction radar on the main mast and the CESM component which antenna is installed on top of the secondary mast. The RECM active modules embodying the GaN technology (instead of GaAs) and featuring reduced dimensions but at the same time enhanced capabilities, are installed in the same position already used by current same equipment on board in service frigates, namely in the frontal area of the main mast and on the port corner side of the hangar structure. The suite also include an EW suite managing equipment which allows the potential combined use together with the sensors installed on board the NHIndustries SH-90A ASuW/ASW helicopters and future unmanned systems. The Italian Navy plans to equip a number of FREMMs with the tools to operate the recently put into service Insitu ScanEagle UAS, when required. As anticipated, the ASW suite of the new ships also includes the two Leonardo B530 anti-torpedo decoy launchers (12 cells each) positioned amidship as on the ASW variant.
     
     
    The remaining sensor suite includes the Leonardo Kronos Grand Naval 3D multi-function radar utilizing the GaAs technologies as part of the SAAM ESD (Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile Extended Self-Defence) system capable of consort ships defence, featuring also a C2 and two 8-cells Naval Group Sylver A50 launchers for MBDA Aster family of surface-to-air missiles. The new ships can also accept two additional Naval Group 8-cells Sylver A70 launchers for surface-to-air or land-attack missiles, which space is today occupied by additional personnel accommodations.
     
    The sensor suite also includes the GEM Elettronica standard dual-band navigation radars, as well as the Leonardo SPS-732 2D air and surface surveillance radar and the SIR-M-CA IFF interrogator system with conformal array compliant with STANAG 4193 Edition 3, together with the Leonardo SASS (Silent Acquisition & Surveillance System) IRST system. The new frigates also features two Leonardo OLDS 20 launcher for both AAW and anti-torpedo decoys and two new generation SX-424 multirole acoustic stabilized system (MASS) centered on non-lethal weapon and search/tracking systems by SITEP Italia. The latter are positioned aside the secondary mast differently by previous installation.
     
    In addition to the 127/64 mm LW (LightWeight) main gun with fully automatized loading and ammunition magazine and the capability to manage and fire the Vulcano family of long-range guided and unguided munitions alongside the 76/62 mm Super Rapido in the Strales configuration plus the two 25 mm manually operated weapon systems by Leonardo, the two new frigates will also be ready to install eight launchers for the MBDA Italia’s family of Teseo anti-ship/land attack missiles and Leonardo triple-torpedo launchers.
     
    FREMM Spartaco Schergat
     
    Thanks to the new FREMM hybrid ASuW/ASW configuration, the Italian Navy will increment its escort fleet of ASW platforms from four to six ship, while creating the base for the new FREMM EVO (Evolved) platforms which programme for at least two ships is included in the latest Italian MoD multi-year defence planning document (DPP 2023-2025).   

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