Monday, June 04, 2018

Italy finally buys the Centauro II.

via Shepard Media.
After years of delay caused by budgetary uncertainty, the Italian Army is expected to sign a contract that will finally kick start low-rate production of the long-awaited Centauro II mobile gun system.

The new tank destroyer – developed by the Iveco-Oto Melara consortium, CIO – was first shown off two years ago at Eurosatory 2016 and a production contract was expected soon after once government approval was received.

But fast forward to June 2018 and a production contract has still not materialised, with Italian lawmakers holding off funding a programme that will cost nearly half a billion euros for the first tranche of vehicles.

An official from the CIO consortium speaking in the lead up to Eurosatory said that despite these delays, the negotiations for low-rate production were now in their advanced stages and a contract for the first 11 vehicles was imminent.

The Italian Army has previously stated a need for 136 vehicles as it sought to begin replacing the legacy Centauro I MGS, although it appears this has since been increased to 148 vehicles across two tranches (74+74).

The industry official said that all acceptance tests for the Centauro II had now been completed. The additional 11 vehicles will be used to fully optimise the vehicle’s capabilities before it goes into full production.

The 8x8 Centauro was developed over 30 years ago for the Italian Army, with its main weapon system being a low-recoil 105mm Hitfact gun turret from Oto Melara (now Leonardo) giving it the same lethality as an MBT.

The new Centauro II features an improved Hitfact Mk 2 turret with a 120/45mm smoothbore gun and integrated muzzle brake. The turret has an ammunition rack for 12 NATO standard 120mm rounds, or if an autoloading system is installed, six in a drum and six in the ammunition rack, which sits in a space that is separated from the crew by ballistic steel.

For additional crew safety, the vehicle can support add-on armour and spall liners for ballistics protection as well as energy absorbing systems on each crew seat for mine protection.

The vehicle can be operated by just a drive and gunner, although space is provided for a gun loader that can assist during missions as the Italian Army operates the vehicle.

As part of its sensor suite, the turret features stabilised sights for the gunner and driver that both have third generation IR channels and daylight TV sensor.

According to information seen by Shephard, the Italian Army configuration will also utilise an extensive C4I suite that will include the SDR VM3 soldier radio (UHF), a HCDR radio (UHF), a SRT-635 SINCGARS radio (VHF) and CNR2000 radio (HF). In addition, it will have a Harris AN/PRC-152 for SATCOM communications and a Guardian H3 IED jammer from Leonardo.

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