The Italian Army (Esercito Italiano) and Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium (Consorzio Iveco Oto Melara, CIO) signed a contract for 86 Centauro II armoured vehicles, plus 10 additional units in option, integrated logistic support and equipment. The contract was signed between the Land Armaments Director Lieutenant General Paolo Giovannini and the Commercial Director of the Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium (CIO) Dr. Eng. Giovanni Luisi at Guidoni Palace, headquarters of the General Secretariat of Defence and of the National Armaments Directorate on Dec. 30. The contract ensures a long-term stability thus strengthening the strategic know-how for the land sector of the national industry of Defence and guaranteeing the production continuity.
The new Centauro II armoured vehicle represents a new stage in the evolution of the storied Centauro I 105mm/120mm armoured vehicle, the first 8×8 wheeled antitank vehicle in the world with a high-pressure gun. It was developed by a consortium of manufacturers, the Società Consortile Iveco Fiat – OTO Melara (CIO). Iveco Fiat was tasked with developing the hull and propulsion systems while Oto Melara was responsible for developing the turrets and weapon systems.The Centauro II marks a major step forward compared to the previous Centauro I, in terms of power, mobility, firing range, communication and maximum crew protection. The result is a new concept of wheeled armoured vehicle capable of operating in any scenario: from national security missions, to peace-keeping and support operations including all interventions involving the Italian Armed Forces.
The third generation 120/45 mm gun (optional 105/52mm interchangeable to 120 mm), with integrated and stabilised low-recoil muzzle brake, provides the same fire power as most modern main battle tanks, with the capability of firing all latest generation 120 mm NATO APFSDS and multi-role MP munitions. The turret, equipped with new anti-mine seats, 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. 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 AGL
As regards mobility in particular, the power-to-weight ratio, increased to 24 HP/tonne, provides unequalled performance in terms of speed and acceleration thanks to the new-generation IVECO engine, offering more than 720 HP, and to the associated modernisation of the transmission, braking system and control electronics. The digital tyre pressure control (CTIS), allied with run-flat systems, the new suspension and the low nominal ground pressure allow the new Centauro armoured vehicle to extricate itself from any type of terrain. 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.