Italy Halts Plans to Buy Israeli Underwater Drones

Italy’s plan to buy three Blue Whale autonomous submarines from Israel’s Elta Systems has been put on hold before its scheduled parliamentary review.

The decision was partly due to talks about building a domestic version of the underwater drone, as well as increased sensitivity over buying Israeli arms amid the Gaza war, Defense News reported.

The acquisition program was estimated to cost 254 million euros ($270 million) and scheduled to run until 2035. The deal would have included logistic support, control stations, and recovery and deployment systems for the new capabilities.

Development of the indigenous drones may involve local firms such as Gruppo ELT and Cabi Cattaneo, improving the country’s drone expertise and reducing its reliance on foreign technology.

Italy’s Growing Subsea Presence

The Italian Ministry of Defence has been pushing for a stronger stance on subsea development to bolster its maritime force.

Part of Rome’s efforts include hosting NATO’s mine countermeasure exercises at the La Spezia Naval Base in the northwest region of Liguria.

In December, the country also established the National Underwater Dimension Hub at La Spezia, designed to promote inter-industry cooperation for the development of new underwater programs.

The new center will take on research, development, and experimentation to sustainably and consciously improve subsea capabilities.

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