On July 19, Fincantieri has been awarded a €74 million contract by the Italian Ministry of Defense to start the adaptative works for the use of the F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing) Lightning II aircraft onboard the STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft carrier CV Cavour. Works will end in late 2019. The first landing of the aircraft carrier is planned for 2020.

Italy has planned to acquire in total 90 F-35 aircraft (60 F-35A and 30 F-35B). Concerning the Marina Militare, the F-35B aircrafts aim at replacing aging AV8B+ Harriers.

The Cavour’s hangar capacity is for 8 AV-8B+/ F-35B Joint Strike Fighter or 12 EH-101/NH90.

This contract comes shortly after Italy received its first F-35B in late January 2018. The Italian F-35B, which is for the Italian Navy, is the first F-35B assembled aircraft outside the United States within the Cameri site (Novara, Italy). Since December 2015, nine F-35A have already been made and delivered for the Italian Air Force. Four of them are based for training purposes in the US Air Force Base of Luke (Arizona) and the remaining five are operated on the Italian Air Force base of Amendola.

The Italian F-35B has since been tested in the USA at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River (Maryland) for the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification (electromagnetic compatibility), and then being used in the US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort (South Carolina) where the Pilot Training Center for the USMC is. The next two Italian F-35B aircrafts will join the first aircraft later on.

On board the CV Cavour, F-35B aircrafts will be in charge of doing the following missions:

  • AI (Air Interdiction),
  • APCLO (Air Power Contribution to Land Operations),
  • APCMO (Air Power Contribution to Maritime Operations),
  • CAS (Close Air Support),
  • COMAO (Composite Air Operations)
  • DCA (Defensive Counter Air),
  • OCA (Offensive Counter Air).

By 2023, Italian F-35B aircrafts will have progressively replaced AV8B+ Harriers on board the Cavour aircraft carrier.

The FACO (Final Assembly and Checkout), operated by Leonardo, is responsible for the manufacturing of Italian F-35 aircrafts. Besides Italian orders, the facility will be also in charge of the manufacturing of 29 F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The production process for the Netherlands has already started.

The partnership between Lockheed Martin and Leonardo is at high stake for Italy: 27 Italian companies have been directly contracted by Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman while more than 70 others companies are sub-suppliers. In addition, Leonardo is responsible for the wings manufacturing for F-35 partner and Foreign Military Sales nations. The FACO in Italy will be, as well, the European Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade Center of Excellence.


Written by Benjamin Voisin (Finance Analyst) for OIDA Strategic Intelligence


December 2017, the French aerospace company Thales and the digital security firm Gemalto (secure software, biometrics and encryption for businesses and governments to authenticate identities and protect data), jointly announced the agreement on a recommended all-cash offer for all issued and outstanding ordinary shares for Gemalto (€51 per share). The waiting period has been extended until 15th August 2018.

Thales will combine its digital businesses into Gemalto, which will continue to operate under its own brand as one of Thales’ seven global business units. By acquiring Gemalto, Thales adds around €3 billion of revenue for 2018 to its digital business sales and acquires a set of technologies and competencies which have applications across Thales’ five vertical markets (Aeronautics, Space, Ground transportation, Defence and Security).

The combination of the two signifies that the French-Dutch company Gemalto will return under the French flag as Thales takes its shares. The digital security firm is currently based in Amsterdam and run by top Chief Executive Officer Philippe Vallée (since 2016) and Non-executive Chairman Alex Mandl. The company was launched back in 2005, after a merger of Axalto and Gemplus. The governing principle between these digital firms is the current Gemalto’s NEC: Alex Mandl, as he was also CEO of Gemplus, In-Q-tel, and former CIA employee. As a reminder In-Q-tel is an American non-profit firm created to support American intelligence agencies such as the CIA, and funds amongst others Palantir Technologies (Data Analytics), Recorded Future (Predictive Analytics), and Interset (Security Analytics).  Therefore, he will continue to play a crucial part with the French CEO in the governance, direction, and intelligence of the company within the merger with Thales.

Gemalto’s unrivalled and innovative technology portfolio will put Thales in a highly differentiated position to provide not only to enterprises and government agencies but also implement gradually new security and technologies within its own different markets.

Thales’ interest in acquiring Gemalto reflects its recognition of several opportunities such as securing the American 3M’s Identity Management business which specialises in biometric technology, after losing the Safran Morpho deal to Oberthur Technologies (U.S. IDEMIA), and announced in 2017 new on-demand connectivity deals with consumer device makers like Microsoft, industrial players such as the PSA Group, and mobile operators like AT&T and Telefonica (see table below).

All in all, whilst Gemalto will appear under the French flag just like Morpho, it seems in reality to be highly influenced by American direction by reason of Alex Mandl, and its affiliation with its new U.S. subsidiary 3M.

From Thales’ point of view, acquiring Gemalto represents first and foremost an acceleration of its digital strategy: over the past three years, the aerospace company has significantly increased its focus on digital technologies, investing over €1 billion in connectivity, cybersecurity, data analytics and artificial intelligence, in particular with the acquisition of Guavus, Sysgo, and Vormetric.

In addition, further indications of Thales’ interest for digital security within the defence environment can be seen through its participation in the French “Matrice” program with the “Hackathon” project (“hacker” and “marathon”) which is now in its second year. Thales has partnered up with the French Navy and “l’Ecole 42” to create a 3-day competition for students to develop a collaborative sharing tool intended to feed a specific cloud for maritime users. This initiative represents the new direction the French Defence and Maritime industry is taking, notably with the Thales-Gemalto partnership leading the way.


Written by Alexandra Stafferton (Junior Analyst) for OIDA Strategic Intelligence


With drones gaining more popularity, anti-drone technologies may become a necessary countermeasure in years to come to neutralise drone threats in the defence, commercial, and homeland security sectors by detecting and intercepting drones. Anti-drone technology is also known as counter-UAS, C-UAS, or counter-UAC technology. As in any market segment, anti-drone manufacturers consist of the larger corporates like Thales, Lockheed Martin, and SAAB, however start-ups are becoming fierce competitors with their own in-house innovations, low-cost manufacturing capabilities, and the ability to build anti-drone systems to customer requirements.

Anti-drone technologies can be ground-based (fixed or mobile on buildings or vehicles), hand-held (operated by hand), and UAV-based (mounted on drones). They can have a detection and tracking capability with radar, radio frequency (RF), electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), acoustic, or combined sensors, and/or an interception capability with RF jamming, GNSS jamming, spoofing (takes control of the drone by accessing the drone’s communication link), laser, nets, and projectiles. Further, anti-drone technologies can initiate controlled landings or instruct the drone to return to the operator. But technologies are not the only option. A company from the Netherlands called Guard From Above, trains birds of prey to intercept drones. The most commonly used drone detection methods are radar, RF detection, EO, and IR – with jammers being the most popular for interception.

Apart from the obvious military and law enforcement applications, the anti-drone market varies greatly to include government installations (such as prisons), commercial venues, critical infrastructure, and airports. Drones are readily available and cheap, a hassle-free option for non-state actors to utilize them for a number of operations. Non-state actors like ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthi rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and Colombian and Mexican drug cartels have all used drones. Drones can be armed with explosive payloads or used as a delivery system for biological or chemical weapons, where the controlled landing of a drone is absolutely critical. However, drones do not necessarily need to be weaponised to cause disruption and can be used as surveillance, recording devices, and delivery vehicles.

The anti-drone market will inevitably grow with a variety of systems available to counter drones’ many applications. The future will see an increase in partnerships between companies wanting to collaborate on anti-drone technologies such as Belgian software company Unifly who recently announced that they have joined forces with Integra Aviation Academy to set up an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system, which alerts pilots on emerging drone threats. To date, the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in the U.S. has identified over 230 anti-drone products manufactured by 155 manufacturers in 33 countries.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA



Porte de l'Arenas, Hall C - CS13326
455, Promenade des Anglais
06206 Nice cedex 3, France


Please note that this website should not be used as an investment tool nor does it provide any investment advice. OIDA Strategic Intelligence SASU can accept no liability whatsoever for actions taken based on any information that may subsequently prove to be incorrect, inaccurate or omitted and publicated in this website.