ELAC SONAR GmbH, has been awarded an order valued at over €49m by Leonardo S.p.A, among the top world players in the Defence and Security sectors, a leader in the design and supply of systems for naval defence and maritime and coastal surveillance.
ELAC SONAR will provide sonar systems for two new U212 Near Future Submarines (NFS) being supplied by Fincantieri for the Italian Navy under the framework of the contract awarded to the Italian shipbuilding group. The contract will be managed by the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), an international organisation with the express mission to facilitate the management of cooperative armament programmes in Europe (currently, OCCAR manages 16 programmes with a portfolio of around €80 Billion, that is expected to increase to up to €100 Billion). Work on the contract starts immediately and will complete in 2030.
In accordance with OCCAR’s Through Life Management principle and best practices, the contract includes delivery of the submarine sonar systems, special test and training tools, and associated technical services. It also includes options for two more U212 NFS submarines.
“This is a major achievement for ELAC SONAR. Being selected to provide the complete submarine sonar suite for a European Navy of the first rank is a strong and visible endorsement of ELAC SONAR’s world leading Sphere™ technology. We look forward to working with Leonardo and Fincantieri to create a capability for the Italian Navy that is unmatched on a submarine of this class.”Andy Thomis, Cohort Chief Executive.
About Type U212 NFS — Near Future Submarine
The Italian Navy currently has four U-212A Todaro-class submarines in service: the Todaro (delivered in 2006), the Sciré (2007), the Pietro Venuti (2016) and the Romeo Romei (2017).
Conceived to maintain advanced capabilities in the underwater domain with a renewed national R&D and industrial cluster participation, and to replace four in-service updated Sauro-class boats maintaining an eight platforms submarine fleet, the NFS program will sees the procurement contract award for two boats plus option for additional two boats in addition to in-service and logistic support. The program funded by the Minister of Economic Development is subdivided into two tranche, as indicated by information provided to the Parliament in 2018 e 2019: the first tranche regards the development and procurement of the first two boats with the related technical-logistic in-service support (10 years) while the second tranche is related to new technologies development and the procurement of the second batch of two boats and the related in-service technical-logistic support. The first tranche also include the technological update of the training ad operational support systems. According to the multi-year planning document 2020-2022 released last October, the funded procurement cost of €1,35 billion indicated in the notice regards the first tranche of the program. The overall program cost, according to the same document, is today indicated in €2,68 billion. No update information on the program schedule was given, but Naval News understood that if the contract will be awarded around year-end, the first U212 NFS could be delivered in 2027 while the second could follow in 2028.
U212 NFS technical characteristics
As a national development of the U212A submarines already in service under the joint German-Italian procurement and support program, the U212 NFS AIP boats will have an hydrodynamic enhanced hull design with an central body 1,2 meters longer compared to in-service platforms, and including a propeller optimized cap combined with pre-swirled rudders, a fluoropolymer foul release hull coating to reduce fuel consumption, all contributing to reduce the acoustic signature, alongside a new emerging blowing system.
The new platforms could potentially also take advantage in the future of the on-going revolutionary Submarine UnderWater Invisible through MetaMaterials (SUWIMM) R&D program. The Italian MoD invested in a nationally-developed energy storage system centred on new-generation Lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery system integrated by Fincantieri and provided by Italian FiB/FAMM company and adds to the in-service AIP propulsion system on the first two new boats to further extend underwater operational endurance. The following batch could benefit from a second-generation fuel cell-based AIP R&D program. All program’s platforms will have a new longer low-profile sail design with seven electrically-actuated mast-raising systems from Calzoni/L3Harris. The new boats will also feature a new integrated combat system developed and mainly provided by Italian industry alongside a new or enhanced integrated platform management system and up-to-date Avio Aero autopilot. With a new combat information centre arrangement, it will accommodate a new combat management system provided by Leonardo, managing a sensors package centred on an enhanced sonar suite, new masts with new-generation RESM/CESM suite provided by Elettronica and communications equipment, in addition to a new weapon systems package.
The U212 NFS will feature six 533 mm tubes for the Leonardo Black Shark Advanced (BSA) heavy-weight torpedoes as well as, in the pipeline to be approved and funded, land attack cruise missiles and UUVs. As we previously reported, the Italian Chief of Navy highlighted the need for a credible deep strike capability to be provided by submarines (and surface platforms), which is under defense review. The DPP 2020-22 include a long-term unfunded and unspecified service-provided ‘Deep Strike New Generation’ capability.
Italy’s U212 NFS program will provide Fincantieri and Italian industry, a strong export push in the underwater platform sector as well as in support of the on-going cooperation in submarines with Germany and potentially other customers.