By Paolo Valpolini
Loitering munitions are increasing their appeal, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict having shown their effectiveness against a variety of targets. The Italian Defence HQ has issued a Mission Need Urgent Requirement (MNUR) for the acquisition of a Loitering Munition system to be deployed by Special Forces. No technical details are available in the open-source document, which states onlt that the contract will include the provision of the Loitering Ammunition, the Loitering Inert Ammunition for training purposes, and the Ground Control Station. It will also cover training and system operational qualification.
The programme is financed with 1.758 million Euro that are part of the 2021 budget. The Italian MoD aims at filling the indirect fire capability gap of Italian SFs when these operate isolated downrange, and at providing them with a self-defence capability when carrying out operations for protecting national interests and/or Italian citizen abroad. Looking at the missions considered it is quite obvious that Italian SFs are looking for manportable solutions,
Israel is probably the main producer of loitering munitions, such systems being also designed manufactured in the United States, Poland, and Turkey, considering only western and NATO countries.
The acquisition will be done via a European tender procedure that will be issued by the Aeronautical Armaments Direction of the Italian Secretariat General of Defence / National Armaments Directorate. No time schedule is indicated, but being a MNUR and due to the single-year financing the contract should follow at short notice.
Photo courtesy Italian Army