Thursday, June 20, 2024

Italy offers cutting-edge PPA Paolo Thaon corvettes to Indonesia

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Italy has expressed a strong interest in offering its Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura (PPA) Paolo Thaon corvettes to Indonesia, even though Indonesia has not officially activated the contract for the purchase of FREMM ships from Fincantieri.

The PPA Paolo Thaon corvettes, produced by Fincantieri, are part of the PPA project initiated by the Italian Navy in 2015. These corvettes boast exceptional flexibility, capable of performing various roles, from offshore patrolling to frontline combat.

Measuring 143 meters in length and weighing approximately 4,900 tons, the PPA corvettes can be configured for a wide range of missions, including disaster relief and full-scale military operations.

One notable feature of these corvettes is their “navy cockpit” bridge, designed in collaboration with naval aviators, resembling an aircraft cockpit and requiring only two navigators to operate the vessel.

PPA Paolo Thaon corvettes come armed with capabilities surpassing traditional frigates, despite their classification as corvettes. Various combat system configurations, from lightweight patrol tasks with self-defense capabilities to full-fledged frontline combat, are integrated into these vessels. The total contract value for seven units of Paolo Thaon reaches approximately EUR 3.5 billion.

These corvettes are renowned for their advanced design and are produced with the assistance of prominent European defense companies, including Elettronica, MBDA, and, most significantly, Leonardo. Leonardo, under an agreement from 2015, oversees the design authority for the entire combat system.

Fincantieri is currently building the fourth and fifth units of the Paolo Thaon in the Revel class, named Giovanni delle Bande Nere and Marcantonio Colonna, at the Riva Trigoso and Muggiano shipyards. The Italian Navy is planning to operate at least seven of these corvettes.

Notably, there have been reports that Italy and Fincantieri intend to sell two of these corvettes to either Indonesia or Malaysia. Specifically, the fourth unit, “Giovanni delle Bande Nere,” set to be delivered in 2024, is a “full” version with maximum defense capabilities, and it is also the first in the series to feature Isotta Fraschini generators. Motori, a subsidiary of Fincantieri specializing in diesel engine production, announced these developments.

If these warships are sold to foreign nations, it would be the inaugural sale of the Paolo Thaon outside of Italy. Indonesia’s chances of acquiring the Paolo Thaon corvettes are significantly enhanced due to existing contracts for FREMM ships.

Before this, the Italian Navy had no intention of selling the Paolo Thaon in the Revel class to Indonesia. Remarkably, Fincantieri initially intended to construct the fourth and fifth units of Paolo Thaon in the Revel class for the Italian Navy but later decided to offer them to Indonesia.

The situation is dynamic, and Italy’s sudden decision to offer the corvettes to Indonesia signals a potential shift in strategic cooperation. If these corvettes are sold to Indonesia, Italy also plans to transfer technology to facilitate their operation.

Discussions between Italy and Indonesia began with an Indo-Pacific regional tour conducted by one of the Italian vessels, making port calls in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

In a time of growing regional tensions with China, Indonesia is in urgent need of new ships, leading Italy to seek accelerated delivery for Indonesia’s potential acquisition.

Italy has already ordered seven multipurpose ships from the local shipyard Fincantieri, six of which are already launched, and three are in service with the Italian Navy. The sixth ship, Ruggiero di Lauria, was launched on October 6 at the Fincantieri yard in Muggiano, Italy.

The two Paolo Thaon corvettes available for sale are either already launched but not yet operational or part of the yet-to-be-launched seventh ship. Once the Italian Navy acquires the two corvettes, it plans to order two more to meet its own requirements.

“It’s not clear which ships will go to Indonesia. It depends on when the contract is signed,” explained Matteo Perego, Italian Deputy Minister of Defense.

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