PARIS --- The Italian Ministry of Defence announced May 28 that it had authorized the award of a production contract to the IVECO-OTO-Melara consortium for a second batch of 40 Centauro II wheeled tank destroyers, with an option on a further 56.
Including the option, a comprehensive ten-year support package, related equipment and an extended warranty, the contract is valued at 1,159 million euros excluding value-added tax. It will be jointly financed by the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The vehicles will be delivered in “3.0” standard, which will be able to operate in the Italian Army’s new digitalized Medium Brigades, alongside the Freccia wheeled infantry combat vehicle. The details of the vehicle’s capabilities are classified, but according to the explanatory memo issued May 28 by the National Armaments Director, the overall objective is to deploy “an adequate line of armored vehicles, capable of incorporating the characteristics of mobility, protection, firepower, speed, versatility and interoperability with the VBM Freccia, which is the main vehicle of the combat regiments deployed in operational theaters with medium to high threat levels, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).”
According to Italian media, the changes in version 3.0 mainly consist of improvements to the fire control system allowing the use of programmable ammunition, improved observation and sighting systems, and an uprated electrical system.
The B1 version of Centauro currently in service cannot match the capabilities of the Freccia.
A further batch of 100 vehicles, which will complete the Italian Army’s requirements, is awaiting ministerial approval, the memo adds.
The original Centauro B1 tank destroyer has been in service with the Italian Army since 1991; it is armed with an 105mm main gun and is in service with 8 armored cavalry regiments.
The Centauro 2 contract follows an order for 30 Freccia 8x8 armored infantry combat vehicles awarded to the same Iveco-Oto-Melara consortium on Dec. 27, and intended for the Italian Army’s second “medium” brigade.
Italy is spending about €1.5 billion on the Freccia program up to 2032, and plans to buy an additional 381 vehicles in an improved EVO (Evolved) version and delivered in several configurations, including combat vehicle, anti-tank, command post etc.