The Centauro II MGS (Main Gun System) 120 mm is a modernized version of the Centauro 1 8×8 wheeled tank destroyer. It was developed by a consortium of manufacturers, the Società Consortile Iveco Fiat – Oto Melara (CIO). It is the first 8×8 wheeled tank destroyere in the world with a 120 mm high-pressure gun. The Centauro II represents the logical evolution, being armed with a third generation 120/45 mm gun, with integrated muzzle brake and semi-automatic loading system. The weapon system provides a fire power equivalent to that of most modern main battle tanks, and is capable of firing all latest generation 120 mm, NATO APFSDS and multi-role MP munitions.
The turret has a crew of three men – commander, gunner and loader – with the latter able to use the new automatic loading system, while being able also to undertake manual loading operations, as back-up, or other emergency operations. Optronic equipment includes a panoramic commander’s sight and a gunner’s sight, and a back-up sight for use in degraded mode. In the turret, as an alternative to the external turntable-mounted anti-aircraft machine gun, a remote-operated HITROLE Light turret can be installed, with the possibility of using 7.62 or 12.7 calibre machine guns as well as 40 mm AGLs, integrated with the firing system, allowing the loader to undertake battlefield surveillance from a protected position.
As for ballistic armour, protection levels are significantly higher than in the past, with a completely rearranged hull chassis and turret design, integratable add-on ballistics and technical solutions, tested to the AEP 55 standard, capable of handling threats such as mines, IEDs and the latest-generation kinetic munitions. Crew safety has also been further increased, with partitioning of stand-by ammunition and stores within the hull, in addition to the state-of-the-art NBC, fire-fighting and anti-explosion systems. As regards ergonomics, the ammunition reserves in the hull are automated, as is the new automatic loading system in the turret.
The Centauro 2 is intended to carry out tactical reconnaissance, fire support of combat units and territorial defense tasks. It can escort convoys and be used for road patrol missions. Once in service with Italian Army the Centrauro 2 will operate in medium brigades alongside Freccia infantry fighting vehicles, and associated combat vehicles based on similat 8×8 wheeled chassis. In June 2020, the Italian Ministry of Defense has approved an order for 40 Centauro II. The Italian Ministry of Defence announced May 28, 2020, that it had authorized the award of a production contract to the IVECO-OTO-Melara consortium for the second batch of 40 Centauro II wheeled tank destroyers, with an option on a further 56.