The Maestrale class frigates were built by Fincantieri for the Italian Navy (Marina Militare). A fleet of eight frigates is currently in service with the Italian Navy. These frigates are expected to be replaced by the FREMM multi-purpose frigates by 2013. FREMM is designed by DCNS / Armaris and Fincantieri.
The Maestrale class frigates are primarily equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). However, they also possess anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capabilities. They were deployed in various international missions and in the normal operations of the Italian Navy.
The first ship in the class, Maestrale (F570), was launched in February 1981 and commissioned in March 1982. Four frigates were commissioned in 1983 and the rest of the fleet was commissioned by May 1985.
Maestrale class frigate design
The Maestrale class is derived from the Lupo class frigates, but has some differences in displacement and weapons fit. It has a larger displacement of around 500t and incorporates more sophisticated and powerful antisubmarine weapons than the Lupo class.
The large superstructure is made of light alloys. It extends without interruption until the hangar and includes one large turret and a single funnel. The hull is divided into fifteen watertight compartments.
Two non-retractable fin stabilisers provide stability to the ship and reduce the body roll by 30° to 3° at a speed of 18kt.
Command and control
The IPN-20 command and control system, developed by Alenia Marconi Systems (now Selex Sistemi Integrati), is interfaced with the combat system and integrates the sensors and weapon systems.
It collects data from the onboard sensors and communications and data networks and provides tactical information.
The Maestrale class is armed with an Albatros / Aspide octuple launcher, firing Aspide medium range air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. The system is reloaded by a Riva-Calzoni system.
The ship can carry an additional 16 missiles. Four TESEO Mk 2 missile launchers fitted above the hangar can launch Otomat / TESEO anti-ship missiles. The missile can engage targets within a 160km range, while carrying a 210kg warhead.
The main gun mounted on the foredeck is an Otobreda 127mm gun. It can fire 40 rounds a minute at a range of 30km. Two Oto Melara Twin 40L70 DARDO close-in weapon systems (CIWS) are fitted on the vessel.
The CIWS can fire high explosive shells against anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and other precision guided weapons. The fire control system and fire control radar assist the unmanned turret to react rapidly to incoming missiles.
The Maestrale class is fitted with two sets of 324mm triple torpedo tubes for Mk 32 torpedoes. There are two 533mm dual-purpose (ASW and AsuW) launch tubes for Whitehead A-184 wire-guided torpedoes.
Sensors / radars
The sensor suite includes an RAN10S air and surface search radar, an SPN703 navigation radar, an RTN-10X fire control radar and two RTN-20X radars for the DARDO systems. DE 1164 variable depth sonar and DE1160B hull mounted sonar are fitted to detect and track submarines.
The Maestrale class has a flight deck measuring 27m in width, allowing for the operation of AB-212 helicopters. The hangar can accommodate two helicopters.
Two SCLAR rocket-launchers onboard can launch chaff and infra-red (IR) decoys to deceive incoming missiles.
Payloads include Buck DUERAS chaff and IRRAS IR decoys, SNIA 105 LR-C chaff distraction, 105 LR-I illumination, 105 MR-C chaff seduction, 105 MR-IR IR seduction rounds, FR Countermeasures 105mm chaff and IR decoy rounds.
The system is controlled by an ESA-24 calculating system.
The vessel is powered by a combined diesel or gas propulsion system integrating two shafts with five-bladed propellers. Two Fiat-General Electric LM-2500 gas turbines and two D Grandi Motori Trieste BL-230-20-DVM diesel engines deliver a total power of 50,000kW. The electrical system consists of two plants providing 3,120kW.
The engine is remotely operated by an electronic system known as the SEPA-7206 digital control system. The direction is changed by activating the two hydraulic rudders. The ship incorporates vibration and noise abatement measures to reduce noise and improve the survivability of the ASW vessels.