ROME — Italy’s parliament has approved the planned acquisition of two new FREMM frigates with updated electronics and 132 combat-version Leopard tanks as well as 140 other tank versions.

The new buys, approved Feb. 21 by the parliament’s defense commission, are part of a uptick in Italian military spending partly spurred by the Ukraine conflict.

Italy has previously ordered 10 FREMM frigates; the latest orders, dubbed FREMM EVO, will take the fleet to 12. Italy has already taken delivery of eight vessels.

The ninth and tenth vessels were under construction when they were sold to Egypt and have been replaced with new orders.

The two FREMM EVO vessels, which will together cost €2 billion (U.S. $2.2 billion), will boast upgrades to their combat management systems and radar and electronic warfare suites as well as to the sonar, gun, communications and missile systems.

The second green light from parliament was for Italy’s planned purchase of Leopard 2A8 tanks to replace its ageing Ariete tanks and make good on NATO commitments.

The 14-year program will start with a two-year development effort to achieve what has been called an ‘Italianized’ Leopard, bringing in local firms to add systems to the German tank.

Lorenzo Mariani, the co-director general of Italian defense firm Leonardo, told Defense News this month Italy will add its own, domestically-manufactured components, including a Leonardo-supplied electro-optical sensor, software-defined radio, command-and-control system and possibly a gun barrel.

Between 2027 and 2037, assembly in Italy will occur with 132 main battle tanks produced to equip two tank regiments and 140 versions for other roles, including engineering.

With multiyear logistics, training and munitions included, Italy expects the overall cost of the program to reach nearly €8.3 billion euros, according to documents supplied to parliament.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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