The Audace-class destroyers were two guided missile destroyers built for the Italian Navy during the Cold War. An improvement of the Impavido class, these ships were designed for area air defence and had a heavy gun armament, they were fitted with contemporary American radars and sonars, but as the next Italian ships, all the modern weapons made by Italian industry of the time, such torpedoes and guns. Some indigenous radars were fitted; the design of these ships was related to the previous Impavido class, but they were meant as a decisive improvement over these older vessels. They hull was more capable to resist high sea conditions, incorporating an aft superstructure used to accommodating two AB-212 anti-submarine warfare helicopters; this torpedo tubes. The superstructures were built with aluminium alloys in two blocks with one mack each; the distance between the two superstructure blocks was high, as both the propulsion systems were located at midships and over this, the 76 mm gun battery.
The aft superstructure was dedicated to hangar. The propulsion had a two steam-turbine system powered by four Foster Wheeler boilers providing 73,000 hp, driving two shafts, it gave the vessels endurance of 4,000 nautical miles at 25 knots. With this new design, in order to perform ASW tasks, the Marina Militare opted for A.184 wired torpedoes instead of the ASROC missile. Though the new weapon had limited performance being a conventional electrical torpedo, it was one of the better models of its time and was modernized with several updates, it was one of the first to have both ASW and AS capabilities, while in the 1970s many torpedoes were built to have one or the other capability, lacking wire-guidance or homing sonar guidance. Twelve examples were on board, just as many as the smaller light torpedoes A.244 or Mk46 models with triple ILAS-3 launchers. A. 244 had better shallow-waters capabilities. Mk.46 torpedoes were better suited to attack depth and fast targets. The gunnery armament consisted of 6 guns of new generation automatic and with high rate of fire: two Compact, 127mm guns in single mounts, capable of firing at least 40 shells/minute, while new 76mm Compact were placed mid-ship.
Despite weighing only 7 tons, they had enough firepower: 80 c.min, with 85 ready ammunition under the deck in a rapid reloading system similar, as example, to the T-72 or T-80 gun reloading systems. Together with the 127 mm and the main air-defence system, all this weaponry made possible an effective air defence, both long range and close-in. Aft there was the hangar for two AB212ASW, medium helicopters modified by Agusta to perform naval roles, such as anti-submarine tasks and rescue, anti-ship search and attack; these helicopters were large, comparable to the Westland Lynx, so, the hangar left limited space to the SM-1/Tartar depots for the Mk 13 launcher. The helicopters were second in importance only to the SM-1 missile systems, because torpedoes and guns were useful for close defence of the ship; the Audaces were meant to carry an effective area-defence surface-to-air missile and helicopters, while guns and torpedoes were short range defence systems. The Audaces were equipped with several electronic systems.
They had an SPS-52 3-D radar, in the aft'mack', a US model that monitored the air space measuring altitude, up to 300 kilometres. The combination of two radars, one 3-D and the other 2-D was normal for a ship equipped with the Standard missile; the destroyers had a single SPQ-2 radar for low-altitude air and surface search, a 3M20 navigation radar placed in the fore mack. Both served for surface and low level aircraft detection. For fire control the vessels were mounted with two SPG-51 illumination radars for the SM-1/Tartar placed in the aft superstructure, three RTN-10x employed for gun control, one over the turrion, the other two midship in the aft superstructure to serve the 76 mm guns. For anti-submarine warfare they had a CWE610 hull sonar mounted. For ship defence, a pair of SCLAR rocket launcher for decoys were fitted, they were capable to fire HE rockets if necessary. They had several others systems, for ECM and communications and a SADOC-1 combat and communication system, similar to NTDS.
Despite the improvements in anti-aircraft warfare and in the ASW capability, there were still limitation and shortcomings in this new vessel design. The weaponry lacked a specific anti-ship missiles system, except the AS-12. Within short range, there were many systems able to engage naval targets: A.184, two 127mm and four 76mm guns, the Tartar/SM-1MR missiles in their second role. There was not a real CIWS system on board, relating only to the massive firepower of artilleries, but at aft ship none of them can fire, so despite so many guns, there were still blind spots in the defence at low altitudes, covered only by Tartar/SM-1, not meant as anti-missile system. In 1988–1989 they underwent extensive modernisations: it included the replacement of one 127 mm gun turrets and the A.184 torpedoes with new weapons: a Teseo SSM system and an eight-cell Albatros Aspide SAM launcher. The four 76/62 mm guns remained, but the Compact m
Combined diesel or gas
Combined diesel or gas is a type of propulsion system for ships that need a maximum speed, faster than their cruise speed warships like modern frigates or corvettes. For every propeller shaft there is one diesel engine for cruising speed and one geared gas turbine for high speed dashes. Both are connected to the shaft with clutches, only one system is driving the ship in contrast to CODAG-systems, which can use the combined power output of both; the advantage of CODOG is a simpler gearing compared to CODAG but it needs either more powerful or additional gas turbines to achieve the same maximum power output. The disadvantage of CODOG is that the fuel consumption at high speed is poor compared to CODAG. MGB 2009, a modified Motor Gun Boat of the Royal Navy, The two German torpedo boats Pfeil and Strahl The US Navy Asheville-class gunboats The US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters Halifax-class frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy Bremen-class frigates, Brandenburg-class frigates of the German Navy Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates of the Philippine Navy Anzac-class frigates of the Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy other MEKO type frigates or corvettes Peder Skram-class frigates of the Royal Danish Navy Pohang-class corvettes of the South Korean Navy Visby-class corvettes of the Swedish Navy Shivalik-class frigates of the Indian Navy Niterói-class frigates of the Brazilian Navy BNS Bangabandhu of the Bangladesh Navy Gepard-class frigates of the Russian and Vietnamese Navies 118 WallyPower, luxury yacht
A frigate is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries. In the 17th century, a frigate was any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description used being "frigate-built"; these could be warships carrying their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks. The term was used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were referred to as frigates when they were built for speed. In the 18th century, frigates were as long as a ship of the line and were square-rigged on all three masts, but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armaments upon a single continuous deck – the upper deck – while ships of the line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns. In the late 19th century, the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship that for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat.
The term "frigate" was used because such ships still mounted their principal armaments on a single continuous upper deck. In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships as anti-submarine warfare combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, merchant convoys. Ship classes dubbed "frigates" have more resembled corvettes, destroyers and battleships; some European navies such as the French, German or Spanish ones use the term "frigate" for both their destroyers and frigates. The rank "frigate captain" derives from the name of this type of ship; the term "frigate" originated in the Mediterranean in the late 15th century, referring to a lighter galley-type warship with oars, sails and a light armament, built for speed and maneuverability. The etymology of the word remains uncertain, although it may have originated as a corruption of aphractus, a Latin word for an open vessel with no lower deck. Aphractus, in turn, derived from the Ancient Greek phrase ἄφρακτος ναῦς - "undefended ship".
In 1583, during the Eighty Years' War of 1568-1648, Habsburg Spain recovered the southern Netherlands from the Protestant rebels. This soon resulted in the use of the occupied ports as bases for privateers, the "Dunkirkers", to attack the shipping of the Dutch and their allies. To achieve this the Dunkirkers developed small, sailing vessels that came to be referred to as frigates; the success of these Dunkirker vessels influenced the ship design of other navies contending with them, but because most regular navies required ships of greater endurance than the Dunkirker frigates could provide, the term soon came to apply less to any fast and elegant sail-only warship. In French, the term "frigate" gave rise to a verb - frégater, meaning'to build long and low', to an adjective, adding more confusion; the huge English Sovereign of the Seas could be described as "a delicate frigate" by a contemporary after her upper decks were reduced in 1651. The navy of the Dutch Republic became the first navy to build the larger ocean-going frigates.
The Dutch navy had three principal tasks in the struggle against Spain: to protect Dutch merchant ships at sea, to blockade the ports of Spanish-held Flanders to damage trade and halt enemy privateering, to fight the Spanish fleet and prevent troop landings. The first two tasks required speed, shallowness of draft for the shallow waters around the Netherlands, the ability to carry sufficient supplies to maintain a blockade; the third task required heavy armament, sufficient to stand up to the Spanish fleet. The first of the larger battle-capable frigates were built around 1600 at Hoorn in Holland. By the stages of the Eighty Years' War the Dutch had switched from the heavier ships still used by the English and Spanish to the lighter frigates, carrying around 40 guns and weighing around 300 tons; the effectiveness of the Dutch frigates became most evident in the Battle of the Downs in 1639, encouraging most other navies the English, to adopt similar designs. The fleets built by the Commonwealth of England in the 1650s consisted of ships described as "frigates", the largest of which were two-decker "great frigates" of the third rate.
Carrying 60 guns, these vessels were as capable as "great ships" of the time. The term "frigate" implied a long hull-design, which relates directly to speed and which in turn, helped the development of the broadside tactic in naval warfare. At this time, a further design evolved, reintroducing oars and resulting in galley frigates such as HMS Charles Galley of 1676, rated as a 32-gun fifth-rate but had a bank of 40 oars set below the upper deck which could propel the ship in the absence of a favourable wind. In Danish, the word "fregat" applies to warships carrying as few as 16 guns, such as HMS Falcon, which the British classified as a sloop. Under the rating system of the Royal Navy, by the middle of the 18th century, the term "frigate" was technically restricted to single-decked ships of the fifth rate, though small 28-gun frigates classed as sixth rate; the classic sailing frigate, well-known today for its role in the Napoleonic wars, can be traced back to French deve
Aster (missile family)
The Aster missile series comprising the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are a family of vertically launched surface-to-air missiles. The name "Aster" originates from the mythical Greek archer named Asterion, Asterion receiving his name from the ancient Greek word aster, meaning "star". Aster is manufactured by Eurosam, a European consortium consisting of MBDA France, MBDA Italy and the Thales Group; the missile is designed to intercept and destroy a wide range of air threats, such as supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles at low altitude and fast flying, high performance aircraft or missiles. Aster is operated by France and the United Kingdom and is an integrated component of the PAAMS air-defence missile system, known in the Royal Navy as Sea Viper; as the principal weapon of the PAAMS system, Aster equips the Type 45 destroyers and the Horizon class frigates. Aster equips the French and Italian FREMM multipurpose frigates, though they will not be operating as part of a PAAMS air-defence suite itself but through Franco-Italian specific declinations of this suite.
During the 1980s, the predominant missiles in Franco-Italian service were short-range systems such as the French Crotale, Italian Aspide or American Sea Sparrow, with ranges up to a dozen kilometres. Some vessels were equipped with the American medium/long range Standard. France and Italy decided to start development of a domestic medium/long range surface-to-air missile to enter service in the first decade of this millennium, that would give them comparable range but superior interception capability to the American Standard or British Sea Dart in service. Thought was given in particular to the new missile's ability to intercept next-generation supersonic anti-ship missiles, such as the Brahmos missile developed jointly by India and Russia; this allowed the actual systems to have the characteristic of being specialised either in short-to-medium range "point defence", or in medium-to-long range "zone defence". In May 1989, a Memorandum of understanding was signed between France and Italy for the development of a family of future surface-to air-missiles.
Eurosam was formed shortly afterwards. By July 1995 development had taken shape in the form of the Aster missile and test firing of the first Aster 30 took place; the missile intercepted a target at an altitude of 15,000 m and at speeds of 1000 km/h. A Phase 2 contract was awarded in 1997 at US$1 billion for pre-production and development of the French-Italian land and naval systems. During development trials between 1993 and 1994 all flight sequences and ranges, were validated; this was the period during which the launch sequence of Aster 30 was validated. In May 1996, trials of the Aster 15 active electromagnetical final guidance system against live targets began. All six attempts were successful. Again during 1997 Aster was extensively tested, this time being pitted against targets such as the C22 target and first generation Exocet anti-ship missiles. In numerous engagements Aster scored direct impacts on its targets. During one such engagement on 13 November 1997 in a strong countermeasures environment, the Aster was not armed with its military warhead so that the distance between the Aster and the target could be recorded.
The target was recovered bearing two strong cuts made by the fins of the Aster missile. In May 2001 Aster had again completed the "manufacturer's validation firing test" and was deployed for the first time on the French nuclear-powered aircraft carriers Charles de Gaulle. Again on the 29 June 2001 achieved a successful interception of a Arabel missile at low altitude in less than five seconds. During the same year a target simulating an aircraft flying at speeds of Mach 1 and at an altitude of 100 meters was intercepted by an Aster 15; the first operational firing of the Aster missile took place during October 2002 on board Charles de Gaulle. In November 2003 Eurosam was awarded the 3 billion euro Phase 3 production contract which saw full production commence and exports to France, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom; the resulting Aster surface-to-air missile meets inter-service and international requirements, addressing the needs of the land and naval forces of France and the United Kingdom.
The decision to base the missile around a common terminal intercept'dart' to which different sized boosters can be attached has made it modular and extensible. From 2002 to 2005, the Italian experimental frigate Carabiniere provided a test bed for live firing trials of the Aster 15 from Sylver A43 launchers with EMPAR and SAAM-it systems, the trials of Aster 30 from Sylver A50 launchers with EMPAR and PAAMS systems; as of 2012, France has spent €4.1bn at 2010 prices on 10 SAMP/T launchers, 375 Aster 30 missiles and 200 Aster 15 missiles. Another 80 Aster 30 and 40 Aster 15 have been bought for France's Horizon-class frigates under a separate programme. There are two versions of the Aster missile family, the short-medium range version, Aster 15, the long range version, Aster 30; the missile bodies are identical. Total weights of the Aster 15 and Aster 30 are 310 450 kg respectively. Aster 15 has a length of 4.2 meters, rising to just under 5 meters for Aster 30. Aster 15 has a diameter of 180mm.
Given the larger dimensions of the Aster 30, a naval based system requires the longer tubes of the Sylver A50 or A70 vertical launching system. Additionally the American Mark 41 Vertical Launching System can accommodate Aster 30. Aster 15 - Ship point and local area defence Aster 30 Block 0 - Ship local and wid
General Electric LM2500
The General Electric LM2500 is an industrial and marine gas turbine produced by GE Aviation. The LM2500 is a derivative of the General Electric CF6 aircraft engine; the LM2500 is available in 3 different versions: The LM2500 delivers 33,600 shaft horsepower with a thermal efficiency of 37 percent at ISO conditions. When coupled with an electric generator, it delivers 24 MW of electricity at 60 Hz with a thermal efficiency of 36 percent at ISO conditions; the improved, 3rd generation, LM2500+ version of the turbine delivers 40,500 shp with a thermal efficiency of 39 percent at ISO conditions. When coupled with an electric generator, it delivers 29 MW of electricity at 60 Hz with a thermal efficiency of 38 percent at ISO conditions; the latest, 4th generation, LM2500+G4 version was introduced in November 2005 and delivers 47,370 shp with a thermal efficiency of 39.3 percent at ISO conditions. As of 2004, the U. S. Navy and at least 29 other navies had used a total of more than one thousand LM2500/LM2500+ gas turbines to power warships.
Other uses include hydrofoils and fast ferries. In 2012, GE developed an FPSO version to serve the oil and gas industry's demand for a lighter, more compact version to generate electricity and drive compressors to send natural gas through pipelines; the LM2500 was first used in US Navy warships in the Spruance class of destroyers and the related Kidd class, which were constructed from 1970. In this configuration it was rated to 21,500 shp; this configuration was subsequently used into the 1980s in the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates, Ticonderoga class cruisers. It was used by one of People's Republic of China's Type 052 Luhu Class Missile Destroyer acquired before the embargo; the LM2500 was uprated to 26,500 shp for the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, which were initiated in the 1980s and started to see service in the early 1990s, the T-AOE-6 class of fast combat tanker. In 2001 the LM2500 was installed in a sound-proof capsule in the South African Navy Valour class frigates as part of a CODAG propulsion system with two MTU 16V 1163 TB93 Propulsion Diesels.
The current generation was uprated in the late 1990s to over 30,000 shp. LM2500 installations place the engine inside a metal container for sound and heat isolation from the rest of the machinery spaces; this container is near the size of a standard 40-foot intermodal shipping container - but not the same, the engine size slightly exceeds those dimensions. The air intake ducting may be designed and shaped appropriately for easy removal of the LM2500 from their ships; the LM2500+ is an evolution of the LM2500, delivering up to 40,200 shp or 28.6 MW of electric energy when combined with an electrical generator. Two of such turbo-generators have been installed in the superstructure near the funnel of Queen Mary 2, the world's largest transatlantic ocean liner, for additional electric energy when the ship's four diesel-generators are working at maximum capacity or fail. Celebrity Cruises uses two LM2500+ engines in their Millennium-class ships in a COGAS cycle; the LM2500 is license-built in Japan by Ishikawajima-Harima, in India by HAL BHEL L&T BEL, South Korea Hanwha Techwin Doosan, MTU Aero Engines in Germany and in Italy by Avio Aero.
The LM2500/LM2500+ can be found as turbine part of CODAG or CODOG propulsion systems or in pairs as powerplants for COGAG systems. Aircraft carrier: Italian aircraft carrier Cavour HTMS Chakri Naruebet Spanish aircraft carrier Príncipe de Asturias INS Vikrant Amphibious assault ship: USS Makin Island Spanish ship Juan Carlos I Canberra-class landing helicopter dock Cruiser: Ticonderoga-class cruiser Destroyer: Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Hobart-class destroyer Atago-class destroyer Durand de la Penne-class destroyer Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer Kidd-class destroyer Sejong the Great-class destroyer Kongō-class destroyer Spruance-class destroyer Type 052 destroyer Frigate: Adelaide-class frigate Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Anzac-class frigate Baden-Württemberg-class frigate Barbaros-class frigate Brandenburg-class frigate Bremen-class frigate Cheng Kung-class frigate FREMM multipurpose frigate Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate Halifax-class frigate Horizon-class frigate Hydra-class frigate Naresuan-class frigate Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Sachsen-class frigate Santa María-class frigate Shivalik-class frigate Valour-class frigate Vasco da Gama-class frigate Ulsan-class frigate Fast Combat Support Ship: Supply-class fast combat support ship Maritime Prepositioning Force: Watson-class vehicle cargo ship Littoral combat ship: Independence-class littoral combat ship Corvette: Ada-class corvette Niels Juel-class corvette Sa'ar 5-class corvette Inhauma-class corvette Fast Attack Patrol boat Pegasus-class hy
The NHIndustries NH90 is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter. It was developed in response to NATO requirements for a battlefield helicopter which would be capable of being operated in naval environments; the NH90 was developed and is manufactured by NHIndustries, a collaborative company, owned by Airbus Helicopters and Fokker Aerostructures. The first prototype conducted its maiden flight in December 1995; as of January 2017, the NH90 has logged 127,000 flight hours in the armed forces of thirteen nations. The NH90 has the distinction of being the first production helicopter to feature fly by wire flight controls. There are two main variants, the Tactical Transport Helicopter for army use and the navalised NATO Frigate Helicopter. In early service, the NH90 has suffered several teething issues, which has in turn delayed active deployment of the type by some operators. In 1985, West Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom teamed to develop a NATO battlefield transport and anti-ship/anti-submarine helicopter for the 1990s.
The United Kingdom left the team in 1987. On 1 September 1992, NH Industries signed an NH90 design-and-development contract with NAHEMA; this agency represented the four participating nations: France, Germany and the Netherlands. Portugal joined the agency in June 2001. Design work on the helicopter started in 1993; the first prototype, PT1, made the type's first flight on 18 December 1995. The second prototype, PT2, first flew on 19 March 1997 and the third prototype, PT3, on 27 November 1998. On 12 December 2002, PT3 became the first helicopter to fly with fly-by-wire controls following the removal of mechanical back-up controls; the NH90 was developed into two main variants: the Tactical Transport Helicopter and the NATO Frigate Helicopter. These two main variants share about 75% commonality with each other. Many of the operators have requested specific configurations to their own helicopter fleets, thus each nation's NH90 is customized to the end-user's requirements. During the development phase of the programme in the 1990s, both technical and funding problems were experienced.
In June 2000, the partner nations placed a large production order, worth US$8.6 billion, for a total of 366 helicopters. Additional orders have since followed from customers in Europe and Australia. By April 2013, a total of 529 NH90s of all variants were on order by various customers; the NH90 was intended to be produced at three exporting final assembly lines. The Nordic and Australian contracts stipulated production locally. Spain has a final assembly line at Albacete; the Marignane assembly line can complete up to 22 NH90s per year. Major components are produced by each of the shareholding companies: Airbus Helicopters France 31.25% Airbus Helicopters Deutschland 31.25% Fokker 5.5% AgustaWestland 32% Items built by the shareholding companies are distributed to the six locations for assembly and flight test. In late 2006, the German Army, the first customer to receive production aircraft, accepted delivery of its first NH90 TTH. In April 2010, the Royal Netherlands Navy was the first customer to receive the navalised NH90 NFH variant.
In June 2014, the consortium announced that they had completed delivery of the 200th NH90. In order to alleviate delays and reduce the complexity of manufacturing a large number of NH90 variants, NH Industries proposed the adoption of a simplified baseline airframe which could be configured to the individual customer's requirements. Between 2004 and 2016, the production lead times for the NH90 had reduced from 18 months to 7.5 months. In 2014, worldwide production of the NH90 peaked at 53 helicopters. In October 2015, the delivery of the 250th NH90 was formally accepted by the Italian Army. In 2015, the rate of NH90 production declined due to countries choosing to delay their orders and some contracts having been fulfilled. In 2010, German newspaper Bild reported that German Army experts had concerns that the helicopter was not yet ready for the transportation of combat troops, they stated that the seats were only rated for 110 kg, not considered enough for a equipped soldier. Heavy infantry weapons could not be adequately secured and the cabin floor was prone to damage, citing an anecdote of damage caused by footwear.
The helicopter could only land with obstacles not exceeding 16 cm. Troops carrying full equipment could not use the rear ramp due to weight-limitations placed on it. Adding a door machine gun was not possible due to space taken by troop ingress and egress.
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection