ROME — The Italian Army has launched a strategy and technology blueprint that stresses the role of civilian emergency operations and gives details of planned helicopter and vehicle procurements.
Launched in Rome on Feb 9, the document could win back the attention of policymakers who have recently focused more on Navy and Air Force modernization and spending. at the Navy and Air Force.
Drawn up with the help of industry and strategy specialists, the document follows the passing of a law granting over €5 billion (US $5.7 billion) in funding in funding for new Navy ships and continued funding for the Air Force's flagship Joint Strike Fighter program.
While Despite the Army has performed the largest share doing the lion's share of work in recent overseas deployments, including Afghanistan, Army procurement "has remained behind," said Germano Dottori, one of two academics involved in the writing of the document.
The Army may receive more attention now that Army Chief Gen. Claudio Graziano is due to move up to become Italy's military chief of staff. On the funding front, the procurement of 381 armored vehicles has also been approved signed off by Italy's parliamentary defense commission. The Freccia armored vehicles, built by an all-Italian consortium of Iveco and Finmeccanica unit Oto Melara, The new Freccias will equip an Army brigade, which will add to an existing brigade that has already been equipped with Freccias thanks to a previous order of 249 vehicles.
will equip an Army brigade in addition to a first brigade equipped by a previous order of 249 Freccias.
The new document states that the Italian Army currently has 11 brigades, 3,800 combat vehicles, 7,300 support vehicles, 226 helicopters and 103,000 military personnel, joined by 9,800 civilian personnel.
At the end of the current military restructuring, the Italian military is undergoing, the Army will have just nine brigades, 90,000 military personnel, 7,000 civilian personnel, and by 2018, a 40 percent reduction in infrastructure.
The document stresses the need for the Army to become more "dual" — ready to take on tasks during civilian emergencies and disasters, and to shape a suitable command-and-control set-up. Greater service digitization Improved digitalization is also called for.
Apart from new vehicles, the document calls for "The acquisition of a series of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, both piloted, optionally piloted and unpiloted, dual, including new tiltrotors."
The document goes on to describes the planned development of a family of tiltrotors for dual use ranging from 8eight to 14 tons.
"A first aircraft of eight tonnes for six passengers would allow the rapid transport of personnel and material, host an aerial command post," and carry out medical evacuations, the document said.
That first tiltrotor could be a commercial acquisition, after which the Army could oversee the development of a 14-ton tiltrotor able to transport 15 personnel or a load of 2.5 tons.
The Army would require the larger tiltrotor to be able to control UAVs.
Dottori said the Army was more likely eyeing developments of the planned AgustaWestland AW609 tiltrotor than the Boeing Osprey. Italian firm AgustaWestland is now going alone in the development of its AW609 after ending a partnership with Bell. The firm has long left the door open to a military version.
A second helicopter planned in the document would also likely provide work for AgustaWestland. Looking beyond the current service of the AW129 assault helicopter, which has served effectively in Afghanistan and is now being upgraded, the document envisages a successor to the AgustaWestland AW129 being developed.
Weighing 5five tons, the new model would be able to launch and control small UAVs.
The document also envisages the Army operating armed, unmanned helicopters.
Before any of those programs find funding, the Army will push ahead acquiring its new Freccias, although Dottori warned that the €2.65 billion euro program was only funded for the first four of a multiyear procurement plan.
In the past, the Italian government might have sought bank loans to shore up the procurement, but a plan to use loans to buy new ships has just been deemed wasteful by parliament and scrapped, with funds being found up front. Dottori said it was now likelier the government is more likely to would stick to useing direct funding for the Freccia.
The new Freccias are planned in combat, anti-tank, mortar, command post and exploration version.
Roberto Cibrario Assereto, the chairman of Iveco Defense Vehicles, said the second batch of Freccias could be equipped with more powerful engines get increased engine power thanks to parallel development work being undertaken on a new version of Iveco and Oto Melara's Centauro wheeled tank, which is at prototype stage.
The new Army document has come out ahead of a new Italian defense white paper, which was originally due out in December.
"The two documents were written in parallel," said Dottori. "The white paper is aimed at the political world and the country, to justify the relaunch of the culture of defense. The Army document is about new armaments that can equip the Army for the next 15 to 30 years and about having an industry that can compete come the middle of the century," he said.
Speaking at the launch of the Army document, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said the white paper was completed but still needed a sign-off from Italy's president.
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