Lupo class frigate

Lupo class frigate

The "Lupo" class is a class of frigates built by "Cantieri Navali Riuniti" (CNR) for the Italian Navy. Designed as multipurpose warships with emphasis on anti-surface warfare (ASuW), they have enjoyed some success in the export market, being acquired by the navies of Peru and Venezuela. A small run of a slightly updated version is known as the "Artigliere" class.


In the early 1970s, the Marina Militare faced an increased Soviet naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea which constituted a threat to its sea lines of communication as well as to its extensive coastline. To parry this menace, Italy started a naval expansion program which included frigates focused on ASuW ("Lupo" class) and on ASW ("Maestrale" class).

For the first part of the requirement, CNR presented a design for a 2,500-ton frigate with a high speed and a heavy weapons load. The ship employed a CODOG propulsion plant to achieve 35 knots, making it one of the fastest warships at the time. Armament included 8 SSMs, 8 SAMs, several gun systems, 2 triple torpedo tubes and an ASW helicopter, which was equivalent to that carried by larger warships. To save weight, "Lupo"-class frigates are highly automated, allowing a crew of around 200, lower than the 250 of the comparable "Leander"-class frigate.

Italian Navy

The Marina Militare commissioned four "Lupo"-class frigates between 1977 and 1980. These ships were deployed to the Persian Gulf first as escorts for tankers during the last stages of the Iran–Iraq War (1987–1988) and then as part of the Coalition forces during the 1990–1991 Gulf War. After this operations the whole class underwent modernization which included fitting an SPS-702 CORA surface search radar and SATCOM equipment. After two decades in service, the four Italian "Lupo"-class frigates were decommissioned and sold to Peru in the early 2000s.

Peruvian Navy

Peru became involved early in the "Lupo" class frigate program, ordering four ships in 1973. The Peruvian ships were built to a modified design which included different radars, Aspide instead of Sea Sparrow SAMs and a fixed instead of a telescopic hangar. The first two were built by CNR at its shipyard in Riva Trigoso, Genoa, and commissioned in 1979.

Construction work for the second pair was carried out under license by SIMA ("Servicio Industrial de la Marina", Navy Industrial Service) at Callao, with the ships commissioning in 1984 and 1987. Of the Peruvian Lupos, BAP "Carvajal" (FM-51), BAP "Mariátegui" (FM-54) and BAP "Montero" (FM-53) have had their flight decks extended to allow ASH-3D Sea King helicopters to land and refuel, even though they cannot be housed in the ship's hangar.

Venezuelan Navy

Venezuela ordered six "Lupo"-class frigates from CNR in 1975 as a replacement for older warships. This units were commissioned between 1980 and 1982. In general terms, their appearance and equipment is similar to those built for Peru, except for some small differences in electronics. The first two ships, ARV "Mariscal Sucre" (F-21) and ARV "Almirante Brión" (F-22) were upgraded by Ingalls Shipbuilding over a four years period (1998–2002). Modifications have included:

* Fitting of Elbit NTCS 2000 combat management system
* Fitting of Elta EL/M-2238 Single Face STAR 3D air/surface radar
* Fitting of Northrop Grumman 21 HS-7 hull sonar
* Fitting of Elisra NS-9003 ESM system
* Fitting of Elisra NS-9005 ECM system
* Replacement of 2 GMT A230-20M diesel engines with 2 MTU 20V 1163.

The other ships in Venezuelan service are expected to undergo an austere version of this upgrade.

Iraqi Navy

Iraq ordered four "Lupo"-class frigates from CNR in 1981 as part of a naval expansion program during the Iran–Iraq War. These ships, which feature a telescopic hangar were completed between 1985 and 1987 but due to wartime restrictions they remained interned in Italy. In 1993 all of them were seized and, after being refitted as patrol ships, incorporated to the Marina Militare as the "Artigliere" class in 1996. Changes made for Italian service included the removal of all ASW equipment. The four ships are "Artigliere" (pennant F 582), "Aviere" (F 583), "Bersagliere" (F 584) and "Granatiere" (F 585), and are used in fleet escort or long range patrolling duties.



* Faulkner, Keith, "Jane's Warship Recognition Guide". 2nd edition. Jane's Information Group, 1999.
* Rodríguez, John, "Las fragatas Lupo: una breve mirada retrospectiva y perspectivas". "Revista de Marina", Year 95, No. 3: 8–32 (July / December 2002).

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