Italian companies Leonardo and Fincantieri announced stricter cooperation on naval system projects to facilitate each other building better ships and get ready for an expected Italo-French teamwork in warship construction.
The two firms said they would relaunch Orizzonte Sistemi Navali, an existing joint venture between them, to develop naval combat systems.
Leonardo, which holds 49 percent of the joint venture, has supplied radars, guns and other systems to ships built by shipyard Fincantieri, which holds a majority 51 percent.
OSN was created in 2002 to integrate the work of the two companies on Italy’s Horizon frigates, Cavour carrier and FREMM frigates, but was not used in the recent construction of Italy’s new PPA frigates.
OSN will “assume responsibility for the development of the combat systems, the subsystem requirements, and individual components’ architecture, including the Combat Management System (CMS)” in new vessels, the companies said in a recent statement.
“Fincantieri will act as prime contractor, the single interface to customers and hold responsibility for the warship as a whole (Whole Warship Design Authority), therefore in charge, on behalf of OSN, of the architecture of the ship system concerning both the platform and the combat system. Leonardo will be the lead partner for the Combat Management System, as well as the equipment and systems of the ship,” the statement explains.
An Italian industrial source said the deal was designed to make systems integration more central to shipbuilding by the two companies.
“Until recently, much of the work on integration took place during the ship building process. Now, integration will take place earlier in the process,” sources say.
The sources added that the deal also helped Fincantieri and Leonardo get ready for a planned integration of Italian warship building with France’s Naval Group, which is being discussed by industry and government officials from both countries.
Naval Group builds not only platforms, but also handles systems work. Thirty percent of the company is controlled by Thales, the systems provider.
Fincantieri, which is Naval Group’s counterpart, is a platform builder and has no systems work. However, as a 51-percent stakeholder in OSN, we expect that to change.
“The deal means OSN has capabilities in-house that Naval Group has,” said the source. “It balances things out with the French,” he added.
The deal may satisfy Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo, who has expressed fears that French systems, rather than his, will equip Italo-French ships since Leonardo does not have a key role in talks.