The Italian Army is seeking to modernise its long-range fires force following the award of two separate contracts to Italy-based Aris SRL and Leonardo UK to upgrade the FH70 155mm towed artillery and other systems current in service.

Valued at a combined total of over €21.8m ($23.8m), the contracts were broken down into individual awards of €15.7m to Leonardo UK and €6.1m to Aris SRL. European countries are reevaluating the role of artillery in the modern battlespace following the impact the capability has had in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

Such has been the use of artillery by Ukraine that European and Western supporters of Kyiv have depleted their own ammunition stocks as the Ukrainian military gets through thousands of rounds each day, particularly in the 155mm calibre. In addition, European countries have donated significant quantities are artillery systems to aid it in its fight against Russia.

Spain recently announced its intention to replenish its own 155mm ammunition stocks, while European leaders have called for a pan-continental effort to rearm.

According to GlobalData, Italy operates 160 FH70 155mm towed artillery howitzers, which were first delivered into service in 1978. The modernisation effort is likely intended to replace worn parts and reduce obsolescence issues with a platform that has been in service for more than four decades.

Further GlobalData analysis indicates that Italy’s defence budget has historically seen only limited growth or fluctuation due to political gridlock and lack of consensus on the national defence budget.

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By GlobalData

Nevertheless, Italy’s budget saw modest growth from 2019-21, climbing by $5.7bn from $26.1bn to $31.8bn. Despite a drop during the Covid-19 pandemic, the defence budget looks set for a return to growth from 2024-28 with a forecast steady increase in expenditure from $31.6bn to $38.5bn.