ROME — Italy has signed a €500 million ($535 million) deal to buy its fourth and final U-212 NFS submarine to be built by state-controlled Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

Standing for Near Future Submarine, the new NFS vessels are destined to serve alongside Italy’s four U-212 submarines, and replace its four Sauro-class subs which are due to be retired.

The new purchases will therefore maintain Italy’s submarine fleet total at eight – the number navy planners believe are needed to patrol the increasingly congested Mediterranean.

Managed by European-based contracting agency OCCAR, the new deal covers logistic support for the new sub, Fincantieri said.

Fincantieri is due to launch the first and second NFS subs in 2027 and 2028 and started work on the third this week at its Muggiano yard in Italy, the firm said.

While the first four U-212 subs were built using German technology thanks to a partnership with Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, the new platforms are a mix of German and Italian know-how with Fincantieri holding the design authority role.

The Italian firm said it was now installing lithium batteries to replace traditional lead-acid batteries on the new submarines, increasing range.

Italian planners have also introduced a Fluoropolymer coating for the hulls of the new subs, which reduces encrustation to cut down on drag, while the hydrodynamics of the vessels were upgraded from the U-212 model by changing the bow design.

Editor’s note: This story was corrected on June 29 to reflect that Fincantieri is due to launch -- versus deliver -- the first and second NFS subs in 2027 and 2028.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

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