Naval Air: December 11, 2000


ITALY TO BUILD AIRCRAFT CARRIER; The Italian Navy has five new ships on order for a total of $2.46 billion. These include two Horizon-class anti-aircraft destroyers, two offshore patrol vessels, and the "New Major Unit" or NUM (Nuova Unita Maggiore). The NUM was once intended to be an amphibious warfare ship capable of operating helicopters, then a modified amphibious ship capable of operating Harriers or similar aircraft, and is now designed as a light aircraft carrier capable of operating Joint Strike Fighters. The NUM will be 236.5m long, with a beam of 39m and a draft of 7.5m. Standard displacement will be 22,290 tonnes while full load will be 26,600 tonnes. The NUM should start sea trials in 2006 and be commissioned in 2007. Four LM2500 gas turbines will drive the ship at 28 knots with a range of 7,000 nautical miles. With one engine on one shaft, it could make 18 knots and operate Harriers. Electrical power will come from six 2,200kw 660-volt generators. Sensors will include a RAN-40S long-range air-surveillance radar, a European phased array air search radar, an SPS-791 surface search radar, and a bow-mounted mine-avoidance sonar. The electronic warfare system will be leveraged from the one for the Horizon frigate. The flight deck will run the length of the vessel, with the obligatory ski jump at the bow. Six EH101 helicopters can land at the same time. The hangar is 134m long and 21m wide, and could handle 12 EH101 helicopters or eight Harriers or JSFs. There are two 30-tonne aircraft elevators (one in the center of the deck forward of the island and the other on the starboard edge behind the island). Separate elevators will handle weapons, personnel, or casualties. The docking well has been eliminated from the design, along with 1/3 of the original troop accommodations, reducing the embarked marine force to 360. When used for amphibious operations, six EH101s could deliver 360 troops to the beach. The hangar could also be used to carry vehicles which would be unloaded directly to the dock by means of ramps at the stern and starboard side. The hangar could hold 100 assorted trucks and smaller vehicles, or 20 Ariete main battle tanks. Accommodations include a crew of 450, an air wing of 250, a landing force of 360, an a flag staff of 140. Self-defense is to be provided by two 16-cell vertical launchers for short-range missiles, two SCLAR-H decoy rocket systems, and a SLAT torpedo-countermeasure system. Positions will be provided for two 76mm Super Rapid guns and three KBA 25mm close-defense guns, but these might not actually be installed.--Stephen V Cole


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