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Italy’s defence budget planning

16 Oct 17.  Italy’s Defence 2017-2019 Budget Planning Document (Documento Programmatico Pluriennale, DPP 2017-2019), released end of July at the Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni office’ decree, enhances public financing for a total of €47.5bn in the 2017-2032 timeframe, including a €12.8bn extra-ordinary budget funding for defence and security. These funds inject new resources for the purpose of these missions both at national and international level. However, these efforts are not enough to support the aim of Italian Government to gradually increase the defence expenditures to reach the 2% of GDP. Moreover, the discontinuity in supporting defence procurements and the delay in establishing a long-period (six years) planning law as indicated by the Defence White Paper, is affecting both military and industrial systems.

Based on Italy’s budget law for 2017, the 2017-2019 Defence Planning Document has assigned to the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 a budget of respectively €20,261.8m (vs €20,0 of year 2016), €20,061.8m and €20,027.3m corresponding to 1.19%, 1,14% and 1,11% of GDP, according to the same document. The latter also include the Carabinieri’s budget for internal security and homeland missions. The PM Office extra-budget funding for €12.8bn to be distributed over the 2017-2032 period allows for sustaining not only new and on-going procurement programmes but also interventions in other sectors, including infrastructures, reclamations and seismic upgrading. However, due to concurrent social and infrastructure (disaster prevention) needs, the distribution over the 16 years sees a low funding contribution for the first ten-year period, concentrating most of the budget in the remaining six years.

Thanks to the 2017-2019 planning document and the support provided by the 16 years extra budget funding, the Italian MoD will be able to launch a series of new aforementioned procurement programmes. The evolving hybrid and conventional threats characterising the theatre of operations involving Italian Armed Forces and threatening national security pushed the Italian MoD to provide new funding for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as for special forces in addition to the enhancement of C4I network infrastructure protection and homeland security. In 2017, Italian MoD will launch a five-year programme to introduce latest NATO interoperable standards for the Identification Friend and Foe (IFF) equipment (New Generation IFF), developing new first-of series devices between 2017 and 2018 and later launch the production-series for the services. Another five-year programme will deal with protection of C4I network infrastructure with updated or new crypto equipment. Italian MoD will continue financing the leasing of an unspecified SIGINT platform called SPYDR, reportedly being identified as a Beech 350ER equipped by L-3 Communications Integrated System. There also is the will to launch a programme to procure two Joint Airborne Multi-sensor Multi-mission Systems (JAMMS) starting in 2018. New funding has been introroduced respectively for an information analysis programme called PANTERA to further develop the capabilities of the Joint Armed Forces Intelligence Centre, as well as to continue maintaining the SATCOM operational capabilities with both communications (SICRAL) and earth observation (COSMO SKYMED) satellite constellations. Particular attention has also been paid to maintaining or enhancing the operational capabilities of the Armed Forces’ Special Forces (SF), with additional money for unspecified equipment, except for a highlighted new air-launched Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) programme for the Navy’s SF to ensure rapid deployment of units without local support.

The Italian MoD has also funded the establishment of a Security Force Assistance (SFA) centre to train personnel initially for Italian Army and then for other national and international armed forces. The Electronic Warfare Support (EWS) to counter IED and communication surveillance offered by the EC-27J dedicated version of Leonardo’s aircraft division platform called JEDI (Jamming Electronic Defense Instrumentation), has been further expanded financing a more capable equipment package programme based on lessons learned on the theatre of operations. The security of troops abroad is also boosted with funding for additional man portable C-IED equipment, special personal protection for amphibious troops involved in boarding missions, dual-use CBRN equipment for military and national emergencies as well as the planned launch of a programme to develop an initial counter mini- and micro- UAV systems operational capability, which will also support homeland security.

While the 2017 budget law registered a slight increment in the procurement area, the additional funding provided in this sector by the Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE) for the same period put to risk the development of important programmes. Thanks to the MiSE’s support to Defence procurement, the Italian MoD was able to launch and sustain programmes such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the multirole FREMM frigates, the NH90 helicopter and VBM 8×8 Freccia Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV), while more recently it was the case for the Naval Law procurement, AW101 CSAR helicopter, M346 and M345 trainer programmes.

The 2016 MiSE contribution to defence procurement allowed to launch the development and qualification of FSAF’s MBDA Aster 30 Block 1NT missile for ballistic missile defence (BMD), the future combat helicopter (ESS, Elicottero Esplorazione e Scorta) to replace the AW129 platform and the new CIO (Iveco/Leonardo consortium) CENTAURO II armoured vehicle armed with the 120mm smoothbore gun development and procurement in addition to the first batch of 50 vehicles. The MiSE’s €2,550m allocated budget for 2017, however, provides funding mainly for the period after 2017-2019. The lack of money for the 2018-2021 is quantified in €1.45bn, which according to the document, will mainly impact the Eurofighter Typhoon, NH90, Tornado Mid-Life Update, FREMM and VBM 8×8 (for the completion of the second Brigade), if the Italian Government will not introduce corrective actions to the 2018 budget law.

The aforementioned 16-year extra-budget is expected to partially overcome this situation, but no indications have been provided on the devoted funding. The 2017-2019 budget planning document also encompasses a number of additional programmes, which the Italian MoD is keen to launch when and if funding will be available. Among them, the procurement programmes of a new lightweight multirole and training rotary-wing platform for respectively the Army and the Air Force, a lightweight training aircraft for the latter service, new dual-role mine countermeasures vessels (MCMV) and additional logistic support ships (LSS), the life-extension for the MBDA Storm Shadow long-range weapon and the acquisition of both MBDA Italia air-to-surface version of MARTE ER anti-ship missile and the ‘Mk2E evolved’ weapon system, the latter reported as an evolved Teseo ship-launched anti-ship missile, the development of a new Mobile High Power radar version of Leonardo’s Kronos Land Grand for the SAMP/T mid-life update, the weapon system package for the F-35, JFACC enhancements with mobile C2, the institution of a new joint EWOS centre and a Defence Space plan. The latter encompasses special radars for surveillance against debrides and weapons, the new SICRAL 3 communication satellite and a new earth observation space platform, in addition to facilities for low-orbit flights. (Source: ESD Spotlight)

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