The Dardo is an infantry fighting vehicle designed for the Italian Army as a replacement for the M113 APC. It is designed and built by the Iveco Fiat Oto Melara Syndicated Company based in Rome. Iveco is responsible for the hull and propulsion systems, while Oto Melara is responsible for the weapons and fire control systems.
The Dardo is primarily armed with the 25mm Oerlikon KBA automatic cannon firing 600 rounds per minute, with 200 rounds of ready to fire ammunition stored in the turret. Two 7.62mm NATO machine guns are also installed in the turret, one coaxially mounted with the main gun. Five rifle ports, two on each side of the hull and one in the rear are provided to allow troops inside to use their personal weapons, if needed.
Fire control is provided by the Galileo Avionica Hitfist integrated fire control system, which is capable of measuring target speed and range. The commander is provided with six episcope sights, which provide 360° field of view. The cupola can be further fitted with a panoramic stabilised sight. Additionally, a laser range finder and a thermal imager are provided for the gunner. The commander is equipped with a monitor that displays the view from the gunner night vision system. For dealing with heavy armoured threats, two Spike-LR anti tank missiles can be installed, one on each side of the turret. These missiles have a maximum range of 4 km.
Firepower is provided by the HITFIST® two men turret, fitted by a 25 mm or 30 mm automatic gun and as an option, two ATGM launchers. The weapons system is capable of day or night operation (due to its sighting system), it is two axis stabilised and can fire on the move against both land static and moving targets and hovering helicopters assisted by the high elevation angle of the weapon system of 60 degrees. Four 80mm smoke grenade launchers are installed on each side of the turret.
The Dardo is powered by an Iveco V6 turbo-charged after-cooled diesel engine delivering 512 hp (382.2 kW). This drives a ZF-designed automatic transmission system, which is manufactured under license by Iveco Fiat. The transmission system has four forward and two reverse gears, and incorporates the steering system and the hydraulic retarder. The running gear consists of six dual rubber lined road wheels, with three return rollers on each side and connector type tracks. The suspension consists of a torsion bar, bumper and a hydraulic shock absorber on each suspension arm. Disc brakes on each of the final drives controlled by a transmission retarder provide the braking. Together, this allows the Dardo to achieve speeds in excess of 70 km/h, maneuver on gradients of more than 60% and ford waters up to a depth of 1.5 m.
The Dardo IFVs currently in service with the Italian Army are fitted with the “Hitfist” IFV turret. The chassis is intended to be the basic model of a family of vehicles, which may include a 120 mm mortar carrier, command (C3I) vehicle, ambulance and light tank with a 105mm gun turret. Dardo IFVs were deployed with the Italian Army as part of the Italian contribution to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. Currently ten are in Afghanistan to reinforce the Italian Battlegroups there. Also, some are in use with the Italian UNIFIL contingent.