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Aegis Radar Appears on Italian Ship Design

Oct. 26, 2012 - 09:20AM   |  
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS   |   Comments
Fincantieri's Aegis frigate is a company-sponsored ballistic missile defense concept design.
Fincantieri's Aegis frigate is a company-sponsored ballistic missile defense concept design. (Christopher P. Cavas / Staff)
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PARIS — Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri is well known for showing a wide array of designs at naval expositions, and a huge model of the Italian Navy’s sail training ship Amerigo Vespucci dominates their display at the Euronaval exposition just outside Paris. But tucked in among more than two dozen ship models is a frigate design featuring something quite different for the company — four Aegis SPY1-D radar panels on the forward superstructure, along with a Mark 41 vertical launch system.

It appears to be the first time a shipbuilder is showing the Aegis system on a ship other than a U.S. design and its Japanese and South Korean derivatives, or on frigates built or designed by Spanish shipyard Navantia for the Spanish, Norwegian and Australian navies.

Fincantieri’s “theater ballistic missile defense surface combatant” is a concept design, intended to show that the Aegis system, currently the only shipborne ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, can be installed on a ship with a hull similar to the FREMM multimission frigates built by Italy and France.

No European government has announced a current requirement to build a BMD ship, but an industry source said the design is meant to show that Fincantieri already is thinking along those lines and has a design readily adapted to the BMD role.

No formal relationship with Lockheed Martin is behind the design, the industry source said.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman at Euronaval declined comment on Fincantieri’s design, other than to say there was no formal agreement between Lockheed and Fincantieri to develop an Aegis frigate.

“They are clearly linked with Navantia on their Aegis frigates,” the industry source said of Lockheed. “But this could be a winning solution too,” referring to the Fincantieri design.

The 6,500-ton Fincantieri Aegis frigate uses the 144-meter hull of a FREMM variant designed for Brazil, powered by a combined diesel and gas turbine arrangement.

Fincantieri, however, has a strong relationship with Lockheed on a non-Aegis program. The firm owns Fincantieri Marinette Marine, which builds Lockheed’s littoral combat ship in Marinette, Wis.

And while Lockheed has produced several potential export designs of its LCS fitted with an Aegis system, there are no active plans to build such ships.

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