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Italy Dispose Maestrale, Soldati Warships & Sauro Class Submarines To Philippines To Protect WPS

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Published on Jan 31, 2012

The Maestrale class is a class of frigate in the Marina Militare (Italian Navy). The class is composed of eight vessels, all of which were built by Fincantieri S.p. A, Riva Trigoso, except for Grecale, which was built by Fincantieri S.p.A. - Muggiano, La Spezia.

The Maestrale class frigates were primarily designed for anti-submarine warfare, however the ships are highly flexible so they are also capable of anti-air and anti-surface operations. Ships of this class have been widely used in various international missions, either under NATO or ONU flag, and during normal operations of the Italian Navy.

The first of these ships entered in service in early 1982. The rest of the fleet was launched over the next three years. The ships of the Maestrale class are scheduled to be replaced by the Rinascimento class starting in 2011.

The Lupo class entered in service in 1977. The Maestrale class is an upgraded version of its predecessor. Maestrale shares the same, extremely slim hull (with a length/width of 10:1) but this was enlarged to accommodate many more systems. The Lupos is three knots faster, and has eight OTOMAT. Maestrale had much of Lupo's equipment, but arranged differently. Endurance was increased with the Maestrale class from 5,000 to 6,000 miles (9,700 km).

Maestrale has half the OTOMATs but twice as many torpedo launchers (with the introduction of the new heavy torpedoes), twice the helicopters, and twice the sonars, having also a VDS. This, coupled with heavy torpedoes and two helicopters, improved dramatically the ASW capabilities. The use of more modern equipment and an Albatross missile system improved in some aspects the air defense.

Maestrale has some shortcomings. The most prominent is the air-defense layout: while Lupos has the four weapons distributed across the entire hull length, Maestrale, because of the double hangar, lacked this ability, resulting in all of the weapons systems being placed on the foredeck and midships. This arrangement leaves dangerous blind spots in the ships' defenses.

After their entry in service, Maestrales were modernized with some minor programs, but as many other Italian ships, no major improvements were made. The equipment present on the Maestrale class ships is almost equal to what it was in 1982, except for a pair of 20 mm guns installed as 'anti-fast vessels close defense', in 2005

The department said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was in Italy meeting with Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola to sign a five-year agreement to acquire military hardware such as fighter jets and warships including radar and combat and patrol aircraft.

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