A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Admiral Bruno Branciforte
Italy—like most other European countries—is experiencing a severe economic crisis resulting in the need for a leaner organizational model for the Italian armed forces, including the navy.
Though working with reduced resources, the Italian Navy in coming years will boast the capabilities needed to fulfill its national and international commitments. Seamless and effective maritime defense and projection of capabilities will be delivered in the entire area of national strategic interest.
The evolution of the navy will be guided by the operational experience gained in the past decade, which has placed emphasis on:
• Enhancing the expeditionary role of the fleet
• Using naval air power effectively
• Achieving brigade-level amphibious operations capabilities
• Acquiring multirole platforms to deal with both traditional and asymmetric threats
• Strengthening national defense and surveillance to promote maritime security.
We wish to preserve a balanced navy, one that has high projection and surveillance capabilities; one that can deliver an operational output based on functional and effective solutions; and one with a high degree of operational readiness and sustainable maintenance/management. We will achieve that through fleet streamlining and upgrading programs, while ensuring that several of our platforms are of dual use.
Over the next five years, the already ongoing upgrading program will focus on frigates and carriers. Ten multimission frigates will enter service to replace the aging Maestrale class. While the carrierCavour will remain fully operational, the Garibaldi will be converted into an amphibious assault ship able to support an amphibious landing force.
Second, in the next ten years, steps will be taken to complete our submarine upgrade program, with a total of four air-independent propulsion U-212 Todaro-class vessels. Modernization of the amphibious component will come with the acquisition of three newly designed, top-performing landing helicopter dock ships. Our fleet’s air arm will be bolstered with the full availability of the new NH90A medium-to-heavy lift helicopters and the procurement of the F-35 STOVL variant, which will further reinforce our projection capabilities. Additionally, our support ships will see the launch of an innovative logistics unit, and our landing-force capabilities will be enhanced and updated in line with the net-centric warfare concept.
Finally, in the next 20 years, while the amphibious-modernization program is completed, the Italian Navy very much looks forward to a new multi-role class of offshore-patrol vessel that will have the modularity to also perform mine-countermeasure tasks.