Italy’s foremost naval supplier, Fincantieri, will construct two Pattugliatori Polivalenti d’Altura (PPA) multi-purpose patrol ships for the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) despite the fact that these vessels were originally destined for the Italian Navy.

Under the management guidance of Europe’s Organisation for Joint Armament Production (OCCAR), the PPA programme was introduced in May 2015, with construction beginning in 2017.

Italy’s contract stipulated seven ships and in-service support for ten years in a deal worth €3.5bn ($3.89bn). According to GlobalData intelligence, the Italian Navy currently have two PPA units in active service. The new fleet will replace Italy’s ageing fleet of various patrol boats, corvettes and frigates acquired from as early as the 1980s.

Within a framework of collaborative relations initiated by the Italian MoD, Indonesia will benefit from two of these PPAs in a deal worth €1.18bn, according to the supplier on 28 March 2024.

However, it remains unclear whether the two ships will come from the seven Italian PPAs. This is unlikely given that Fincantieri launched Italy’s sixth PPA, the Ruggiero di Lauria, from Muggiano shipyard in October 2023.

Indonesia’s interest in PPA units stems from Italy’s maritime campaign in the Far East of the Francesco Morosini, the second ship of the Italian Navy’s PPA class, which also stopped over in Indonesia in July 2023.

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Fincantieri suggests that “the transaction will catalyse additional synergies in the operational, industrial, and technological fields between the two countries.”

PPA features

PPA primary missions include patrolling, surface combat, anti-piracy, monitoring, protection and control of maritime zones and rescue of personnel in distress.

Each offshore patrol vessel will be able to carry up to 171 crew members. The overall length is approximately 143 metres (m), while the length between perpendiculars is 133m. The depth and beams of the vessel are 10.5m and 16.5m respectively.

A hangar located at the aft of the vessel can hold up to two NH90 or one EH101 medium-lift utility helicopter. A flight deck, which is placed next to the hangar near the stern of the ship, is intended to support the operations of one NH90 or one EH101 helicopter.

There are three configurations: light variant, for low-intensity patrol duties; a light plus variant, which comprises a missile firing capability; and a full combat variant. The Italian Navy’s first two units are light vessels, while it is unclear what variant Indonesia will receive.

Indonesia’s naval force structure expansion

The Indonesian Navy is also in the process of acquiring other surface combatants.

These include six FREMM frigates and air defence frigates under its Merah Putih programme based on the British Arrowhead 140 or Type-31 class model. GlobalData projects both programmes to cost $3.5bn and $480m respectively over the next ten years.

Notably, the Polish Navy also opted for the Type-31 model in its Miecznik frigate programme in August last year. While the US Constellation-class is similarly based on the FREMM frigate.

Image of a FREMM frigate. Credit: OCCAR.

Although this new portfolio of vessels provide a greater presence within the country’s expanding force structure, the PPAs will also help to support Indonesia in protecting its national interests and contribute to the stability of the delicate Indo-Pacific strategic quadrant.

Naval Technology reached out to OCCAR on whether Indonesia’s induction of Italy’s PPAs may bring the country into the programme management framework in some capacity such as an observer state now that it has an interest in the ship, however the organisation did not immediately respond for comment.

This is unlikely given that Indonesia is also procuring FREMM frigates and has no status in this naval programme, which OCCAR also manages for Italy and France.