Italy seeks MBT, Franco-German MGCS with Rh-130mm cannon is an option

ROME, ($1=0.88 Euros) — Rome plans to buy a new main battle tank to replace its current locally developed Ariete fleet around 2035, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing InfoDefensa. The time coincides with the schedule for the Franco-German MGCS [main ground combat system] program to replace the current German Leopard 2 and French Leclerc, so Italy’s accession to the project is perceived as a great interest.

Italy seeks MBT, Franco-German MGCS with 130mm cannon is an option
Photo credit: Meta-Defense.fr

This is reflected in an extensive article published earlier this month by the Center for European Policy Analysis [CEPA], composed of a group of experts based in the United States and Poland specializing in research and reports on European policy. Eastern Europe, Russia, and the surrounding areas.

Last May, a document was unveiled by the German government for the country’s parliament, which envisions the entry of new partners in the MGCS project, led by German companies Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann [KMW], along with French company Nexter.

KMW and Nexter are part of the KNDS consortium from 2015, which in 2018 presented its proposal for a European battle tank EMBT [acronym for European Main Battle Tank] as a pledge for MGCS. The development resulting from this program is expected to replace the aforementioned Leopard 2 and Leclerc from the mid-2030s.

Italy-seeks-MBT,-Franco-German-MGCS-with-130mm-cannon-is-an-option-2
Photo credit: InfoDefensa

Currently, the countries of the European Union maintain 17 different models of battle tanks. In contrast, the United States, the world’s largest military power, has only one model.

Assumptions for MGCS

One precondition for a new tank may be the development of a new main cannon with better performance. German defense company Rheinmetall showcased a new 130 mm tank cannon at the Eurosatory military trade fair in 2016, the Rheinmetall Rh-130 L/51. It is designed to offer better performance than the current Rh-120 L/55 introduced with the Leopard 2A6

Italy seeks MBT, Franco-German MGCS with 130mm cannon is an option
Photo credit: Jane’s

For KNDS’ exhibition at Eurosatory, the hull, engine, and entire chassis of a Leopard 2A7 which can carry 68 tons were modified to host the lighter, more compact, autoloader-equipped turret of the Leclerc.

According to Nexter’s head of tracked and armor programs, Francois Groshany, the benefit of the tank is the combination of the “very high capability” Leopard 2 chassis with the lighter Leclerc turret. The 2-man Leclerc turret is approximately 6 tons lighter than the 3-man Leopard 2 turret. The lower weight of the vehicle enables it to traverse bridges that might not be able to support heavier tanks. Full-scale development of the tank could be launched if export customers are found.

Project with Spain and Poland

In October 2020, it became clear that Italy was trying to join Poland and Spain in its own project to develop a new battle tank to replace its Ariete C1 and the Spanish and Polish Leopard 2, after having previously failed tried to be part of the Franco-German MGCS program.

Now, however, Italy’s chances of joining the Paris and Berlin programs are clearer, according to a CEPA article, which recalls that Italy is a European power with a solid defense industrial base and an important role in the politics and security of the old continent. the third-largest economy.

The Armed Forces of Poland received the first Leopard-2PL tanks
Photo credit: PGZSA

Iveco-Oto Melara consortium

The source emphasizes that Italy can offer technological opportunities to strengthen the project for the next European battle tank and cites the possible entry of companies such as Iveco-OTO Melara Consortium [CIO], a joint venture of Leonardo and Iveco Defense Vehicles with decades of experience. the development of ground military equipment. This will strengthen the European character of the estimated project, for which Rome will contribute from 1,8 billion euros by 2028.

He also points out that “given the recent agreement on defense cooperation between France and Italy and the growing political cooperation between Germany and Italy, it makes sense to include a third major partner in the project.”

Last October, Sweden applied to join the MGCS, initially as an observer. The Scandinavian country currently has a fleet of 120 Stridsvagn 122 tanks, derived from the German Leopard 2A5, which has been in service since the late 1990s.

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