“One of the critical issues of the region is the anti-submarine issue and this is the reason why we delivered to the UAE Navy a highly developed anti-submarine warfare vessel last year,” Fulfaro said. “We assume that countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in the near future, will start with deep discussions regarding their submarine fleet.”
“With the experience of the Italian Navy and with the existing cooperation with the UAE, we can create a program for the development of small submarines,” Fulfaro added.
As recently as last year, UAE Naval Commander Rear Adm. Ibrahim al-Musharrakh said the UAE Navy wanted to acquire submarines to guard against threats in the littoral waters of the Persian Gulf.
“There are many different options for combating the threat of submarines in the region, for building the capacity and the capability to acquire submarines is something that is still under process and will take a long time,” Musharrakh said at the Gulf Naval Commanders Conference in Abu Dhabi in November.
Fulfaro says any acquisition would involve small-to-medium submarines which weigh between 300 and 1,000 metric tons.
Defense News also reported that German government sources claimed Saudi Arabia wanted to buy five German Type 209 submarines, with two dozen more planned for the future.