The C1 Ariete is the main battle tank of the Italian Army, developed by a consortium formed by Iveco-Fiat and Oto Melara (CIO, Consorzio Iveco Oto Melara). The chassis and engine were produced by Iveco, while the turret and fire-control system were supplied by Oto Melara. The vehicle carries the latest optical and digital-imaging and fire-control systems, enabling it to fight day and night and to fire on the move. Six prototypes were developed by 1988, which were subject to intensive testing the following year during which the vehicles travelled a combined 16,000 km. Deliveries were first planned for 1993, but in fact took place in 1995 due to delays. Final delivery occurred 8 years later in August 2002.
The tank’s fire control system is the TURMS FCS produced by Galileo Avionica (formerly Officine Galileo) of Firenze, Italy. It includes a day / night stabilised commander’s panoramic periscope sight, gunner’s stabilised sight with thermal imager, a self stabilised optical sight with IR camera and laser rangefinder, and a digital fire control computer. The C1 Ariete can engage stationary and moving targets by day and by night, while the tank itself is stationary or on-the-move. The main gun is a 44 calibre 120mm auto-frettaged smoothbore gun manufactured by Oto Melara. The gun is fitted with a thermal sleeve, a fume-extraction system and a muzzle reference system. The gun is stabilised in two axes by hydraulic servoes and can fire all available types of ammunition including APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) and HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) rounds.
The hull and turret are of all welded steel construction with enhanced armour protection over the frontal arc. The crew is protected from nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare by an NBC protection system developed by Sekur SpA in Rome.
The C1 Ariete is powered by a Fiat V-12 MTCA (modular turbo-charged aftercooler) turbo-charged, 12 cylinder, diesel engine developing 937kW (1,273hp). An improved version of the MTCA engine has been developed by Iveco and is expected to be fitted during revision of the existing tanks. The engine can produce 1,600hp at 1,800rpm.