The Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium (CIO) signed a contract with the Italian Secretary of Defence Land Armaments Directorate on 30 December 2021 to supply 14 Mortar Carrier Veicolo blindato medio (VBMs), 26 Command Post VBMs (13 Tactical Unit and 13 Command Unit versions), and six 10×10 rescue and recovery vehicles. Signed on 30 December 2021, at the Secretary of Defence (Segredifesa) Land Armaments Directorate, the contract comes as part of the ongoing supply (“Phase 2”) of Medium Armoured Vehicles to the Italian Army’s Second Medium Brigade, and includes an upgrade to “PLUS” version for the VBM platform, as well as long-term integrated logistics support for all platforms purchased.
The VBM Combat “PLUS” version will see changes to both the vehicle and the turret. Changes to the vehicle include upgrading to common rail technology for the engine, taking it from 550 HP to 660 HP ready for a future hybrid-electric traction system, and upgrades to the driveline, increasing growth potential by up to 15% compared to current levels. The “Freccia” VBM is an 8×8 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) of proven reliability in its various versions (Combat, Anti-tank, Mortar Carrier and Command Post) and represents the result of highly-technological synergies between the Technical Area (General Secretariat of Defence – Directorate of Land Armaments), the Operative Area (Army General Staff) of the Ministry of Defence and the Italian Industry.
Leonardo is upgrading the fire control system, introducing latest generation electronic components capable of interfacing the new “Janus D” and “Lothar D” digital optic detection and aiming systems. The contract also includes the supply of a new digital intercom system and a fully upgraded CIS system with four-channel SDR VQ1 radio, as well as the new C2D / N Evo Command and Control system, both developed by Leonardo. The vehicle will also be equipped with Galileo PRS technology developed in Italy as part of the European Union secure satellite navigation system. The new VBM PLUS distinguishes itself by increased mobility, lethality and integrated C4I, allowing the Italian Army to face the challenges of the coming years with a truly state-of-the-art vehicle.
The contract makes use of funds allocated in the Tri-ministerial Convention between the Ministries of Defence, Economic Development and Finance, allocating around 1.5 billion Euros to the “Freccia” VBM project in the coming
years (up to 2032), drawn from resources approved by the 2017 and 2018 Budget Bills. The Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium, CIO in short, was established in 1985 on equal participation between Iveco Defence Vehicles and former Oto Melara, which is now Leonardo. Within the Consortium, Iveco Defence Vehicles, a CNH Industrial company, is responsible for engines, gears and all the automotive components, the hull and the final integration of wheeled armoured vehicles while Leonardo is responsible for weapon systems, sight and fire control systems and the hull and the final integration of tracked armoured vehicles.