On August 2, the Italian Ministry of Defence inked a contract with CIO (Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium) for the upgrade of 90 Ariete main battle tanks to C2 standard, ushering in a new era of capabilities. The deal, valued at EUR 848.8 million, also includes an option for the modernization of an additional 35 tanks, further enhancing the country’s armored fleet. The Ariete modernization program is scheduled to take place between 2023 and 2030, with the first C2-standard tank set to be delivered to the armed forces in 2025. This ambitious endeavor aims to equip the C2 Ariete tanks with a state-of-the-art integrated propulsion system, featuring the powerful Iveco Vector 12 engine, generating 1,103 kW / 1,500 hp, and a cutting-edge Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission. The upgrade not only boosts the tank’s performance but also streamlines logistics by sharing components with the well-established Iveco Vector 8V engine found in the Centauro II wheeled tank destroyers. The inclusion of new tracks further bolsters the tanks’ durability, ensuring they can handle challenging terrains with ease.
Enhancements to firepower and situational awareness are a significant aspect of the upgrade. The fire control system will see notable improvements, with the commander receiving the ATTILA-D panoramic observation device and the gunner equipped with the LOTHAR-SD device, both expertly manufactured by Leonardo. A new ballistics computer will also be integrated, ensuring precise and effective targeting. Many elements of the fire control system will align with those utilized in the Centauro II wheeled tank destroyer, facilitating operational cohesion and efficiency. In a move to enhance safety and accuracy during firing on the move, the traditional turret hydraulic drives will be replaced with electric ones. The modernization effort also extends to the communication systems, incorporating top-of-the-line technologies such as the VQ-1 SDR radio station, Larimart intercom, and the C2 C2N Evo system developed by Leonardo.
The C1 Ariete is a 3rd generation main battle tank of the Italian Army, developed by CIO, a consortium formed by IVECO and OTO Melara. The tank has a conventional layout similar to other Western MBTs: a driver located at the front of the hull, the fighting compartment towards the middle, and the engine compartment in the rear of the hull. 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 the vehicles travelled a combined 16,000 km. Deliveries were first planned for 1993, and took place in 1995 due to delays. Final delivery occurred 7 years later in August 2002.
The Ariete’s main armament is 120 mm smoothbore gun, designed by OTO Breda, similar to the Rheinmetall L/44. The gun fires most NATO-standard rounds of the same calibre. It carries 42 rounds, 15 ready rounds are stored vertically on the left side of the main gun breech. The other 27 are stowed in a hull rack to the left of the driver’s station. The gun barrel has a thermal insulating sleeve and a fume extractor; it is fully stabilized in both azimuth and elevation by an electro-hydraulic drive system. Secondary armament consists of a 7.62 mm MG 42/59 coaxial machine gun operated by the tank gunner or commander and an additional 7.62 mm MG 42/59 configured as an anti-aircraft weapon operated by the main-gun loader from his hatch.