This Defense News article is fascinating. Check out these passages...
Dottori said the Army might find additional funding in the 2016 budget if Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti makes good on her promise to reduce spending on the joint strike fighter (JSF) program following criticism of the program from within the Italian Parliament.Then this...
Germano Dottori, a lecturer in strategic studies at Rome’s LUISS University, said that Italian Army generals might also be routing for a new battle tank.This is awesome! The Italians are one of the main proponents of wheeled vehicles but even they seem to be questioning the wisdom and that Tank Competition that the US Army participated in that I've been doing my very best to ignore their 4th place finish, is actually playing a role in their decision making.
“What they might be better off buying are Leopard II tanks, which is what the generals want,” Dottori said.
The Army is now down to about 30 functioning Arietes — its main battle tank — after savage cuts to maintenance budgets left many tanks without parts and out of service, he said.
Dottori said the Leopard II had recently beaten the Ariete in a NATO firing test, upping its reputation in Italy.
“If Italy wanted to go into Libya, its hands would be tied because it does not have battle tanks,” he said.
I wonder a few things. If the Italian Generals actually want Leopard II's then who's pushing the Centauro upgrade? Why haven't we heard more about the Italian defense minister's promise to cut the F-35? How bad are things in the Italian Army to be down to 30 Ariete Main Battle Tanks?
This bears watching.