ROME — Italy this year allocated millions of euros to buy new tanks, fighting vehicles and rocket launchers as the war in Ukraine revives the demand for land warfare systems, a government document has shown.
The budgeting document, officially due in the spring but only released Tuesday, breaks down Italy’s defense spending for 2023 and offers forecasts for 2024 and 2025. Officials reportedly held up the document’s release amid a scramble to update military shopping lists in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Now on the list are 21 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems — U.S.-made rocket launchers that have seen success on the battlefield against Russian targets. An initial €137 million (U.S. $145 million) is expected to go toward the launchers over the next seven years, the document said, with the total outlay to reach €960 million (U.S. $1 billion).
The document also confirmed Italy’s intention, announced in July, to buy new Leopard 2 A8 tanks to beef up its depleted fleet. For the tanks, €100 million is penciled in for 2024, and Italy expects to have spent €4 billion by 2037, with spending eventually running to €8.25 billion.
Defense sources said over the summer that Italy’s target is 133 new tanks to meet NATO requirements.
At the time, the government said the purchase of Leopards would not rule out Italy’s entry into the envisaged Main Ground Combat System program, a Franco-German initiative to develop and produce a replacement for their tank fleets.
Another new scheme outlined in the document is a €15 billion program to buy new armored fighting vehicles to replace Italy’s aging Dardo vehicles. With €48 million forecast for 2024 to get the program going, the document said €5.23 billion was budgeted so far and spread over 14 years.
Italy has yet to decide on what vehicle to buy or develop, but the document stated the program must “maximise” Italian industrial input, jobs and know-how, while being part of a “multi-national context, based on alliances with solid European firms that already work with Italian companies, creating advantageous opportunities for the expansion of the partnership on the development of the future European Main Battle Tank.”
Among other new programs is a €76 million outlay to develop drone swarm technology.
And Italy’s investment in the trilateral Global Combat Air Program to develop a fighter aircraft with Japan and the U.K. is to receive €271 million this year, with spending by 2037 is forecast to reach a total of €7.77 billion.
The 2023 budget includes a total of €19.56 billion in spending by the Defence Ministry, up from the €18 billion spent in 2022, which was in turn an increase on previous years.
The part of the budget devoted to procurement stands at €6.1 billion, a 12.5% jump from the €5.42 billion spent in 2022, which in turn was a jump by about 35% on the €4 billion spent in 2021.
For a true picture of Italian defense procurement spending, the annual extra cash for domestic procurement provided by the country’s industry-focused ministry must be added, which amounts to €1.87 billion, down from last year’s €2.43 billion.
Nevertheless, the overall procurement total this year, combining spending by the Defence Ministry and the industry-focused ministry, runs to €7.97 billion, up from €7.85 billion last year.
Last year’s total was in turn up from the €6.76 billion in 2021 and the €5.45 billion in 2020, showing a continuing positive spending trend.
The budget document forecast that total procurement spending will rise again in 2024 to €8.16 billion and then again to €8.74 billion in 2025.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.