An Italian weapons manufacturer that provides the Israeli Navy with warship guns.
Leonardo SpA is Italy's largest, and the world's 11th largest, weapons manufacturer. Italy's Ministry of Economy and Finance owns 30% of the company. Originally named Finmeccanica, the company's subsidiaries and brands include AgustaWestland, Alenia Aermacchi, DRS,Oto Melara, Selex ES, and WASS. In 2022, Leonardo's U.S. subsidiary Leonardo DRS merged with Israeli military radar manufacturer RADA, and the joint company is independently traded in the NASDAQ and Tel Aviv stock exchanges.
Leonardo manufactures the OTO Melara 76/62 Super Rapid 72mm naval guns, which are installed on the Israeli Navy's Sa'ar 4.5, Sa'ar 5, and Sa'ar 6 warships. The Sa'ar 6 warship was used operationally for the first time on Oct. 16, 2023, during Israel's massive attacks on Gaza. The Sa'ar warship fleet forms the backbone of the Israeli Navy and has been instrumental in enforcing Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007.
The 76mm guns were ordered for Israel by the U.S. Navy in 2016, using funds from the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. They were manufactured at Leonardo's factory in Largo, Florida. The last four guns in the order, worth $100 million, arrived in Israel in 2022, and the Israeli Navy was expected to order more in the coming years.
In addition, Leonardo subsidiary DRS Sustainment Systems, based in St. Louis, provides heavy-duty tank trailers to the Israeli military. The $15.4 million contract was awarded in December, 2023, during Israel's massive attacks on Gaza, and is funded through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. Delivery is estimated to be completed in 2026.
Leonardo has also provided the Israeli Air Force with its main training aircraft. In 2012, Israel acquired 30 Aermacchi M-346 planes, known in Israel as the Lavi, in a deal worth some $1 billion. In 2019, the Israeli Air Force ordered seven AW119Kx Koala training helicopters, manufactured by Leonardo at its Philadelphia production facility. This order was also funded through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.