ROME — Italy is in talks with Indonesia to sell the Pacific nation two of its new PPA multipurpose patrol vessels, an Italian minister has told Defense News.

The ships to be sold would be among those already being built for the Italian navy in order to accelerate delivery, said Italian junior defense minister Matteo Perego di Cremnago.

He added that regional tensions with China meant Indonesia needed new ships rapidly.

“All countries in the region want to increase their fleets rapidly so fast deliveries are needed. Today, you can no longer think of delivering vessels within three years – we need to accelerate programs,” he said.

Italy has ordered seven of the multi-purpose vessels from local shipyard Fincantieri, with six now launched and three already in service with the Italian navy.

Vessel number six, the Ruggiero di Lauria, was launched on Oct. 6 at Fincantieri’s Muggiano yard in Italy.

The two vessels which could be sold to Indonesia would either be among those launched but yet to enter into service, or include the seventh, still-unlaunched vessel. The Italian navy would then order two more to fulfill its own requirement.

“It is not clear which of the vessels would go to Indonesia, that depends on when a contract is signed,” said Perego di Cremnago.

In 2020, Italy agreed to sell Egypt the final two of ten FREMM frigates it was already building for the Italian navy.

Rome decided to divert the two vessels to Egypt, then order two more from Fincantieri to complete the Italian navy’s complement of ships.

“There needs to be a flexibility on the part of companies, so they think, ‘I am already building this vessel, maybe I can divert it to that customer,’” said Perego di Cremnago.

“We did that with the two Fremms for Egypt which were due to go to the Italian navy. We could do the same thing with the PPAs,” he added.

The 143 meter long PPA vessels, which displace around 4,900 tonnes, can be configured in different versions, from disaster relief to full war-fighting. The ships are notable for their “naval cockpit” bridge, which were designed with help from naval aviators to resemble an aircraft’s cockpit and require just two navigators to pilot the vessel.

The talks with Indonesia stem from a tour of the Indo-Pacific region undertaken by one of Italy’s vessels, with stops in the Philippines, India, Singapore and Malaysia.

“The tour showed Italy is increasing operations in the Indo- Pacific, and was also a way to show Italian technological capabilities,” said Perego di Cremnago.

If a deal with Indonesia goes through, Italy will offer the transfer of technology and know-how, he added.

“All countries ask for it and we are ready,” he said.

Fincantieri previously signed to sell six FREMM frigates to Indonesia in2021.

Separately, a pan-European program for a new corvette received a boost this week in Rome when Europe-based defense contracting agency OCCAR signed with manufacturers to launch the program’s first, two year phase.

Fincantieri, Spain’s Navantia, France’s Naval Group and other firms, coordinated by Naviris – a joint venture between Fincantieri and Naval Group – signed up for the European Patrol Corvette program.

The European Defense Fund will contribute €60 million ($63 million) for the ongoing program phase, with another €27 million supplied by member states Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Greece and Norway.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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