Italy is pushing to equip LEO 2A8IT tank with Italian devices

If Berlin heeds Rome’s call, 132 Leopard 2A8IT battle tanks could be retrofitted with devices and systems directly from Italy. This requirement is a major topic in the fast-paced negotiations and is officially detailed in the ministerial decree that gives the program the green light. 

Italy's La Spezia gears up for Leopard 2A8IT tank production
Photo credit: KMW

At this stage, all key contributors to the program have been designated, with Italian defense giant Leonardo in the central role. A state-of-the-art tank chassis production facility is projected to be established in La Spezia, a tip-off initially reported by and later confirmed by Rome. Leading the Italian project, two German corporations have stepped up. KMW has been tasked with the combat configuration of the tank while Rheinmetall is handling the additional request for 140 specialized versions, spanning from engineering to recovery, and beyond.

The active nurturing of the supply chain and strengthening of Italian competencies in the chain sector are set to continue, thanks to the ARIETE C2 program. This blueprint underlines the potential for future enhancements of the C3 development and positions the project strategically with an eye toward A2CS [Army Armored Combat System] – a system set to undergo feasibility studies in the near future, as well as the MGCS [Main Ground Combat System]. 

Leopard 2A7HU technologically superior tanks in the Bundeswehr
Photo credit: Hungarian Defense Forces

The agreement itself has been remarkable. We’re talking an impressive 8.5 billion euros [$9.1 billion], with just over 4 billion euros [$4.3 billion] already set aside. If Germany agrees to Italy’s terms, it could mean a significant boost for the local economy. The benefits of this project are not confined to large corporations, as a considerable number of medium and small businesses are also expected to join, with most acting as subcontractors for Leonardo.

It’s not exactly clear what the outcome will be. However, Italy has a strong track record in building tank apparatus and systems. Take Leonardo, for example, a company involved in creating communication and fire control systems for tanks, as well as their superb optics. There’s also the expertise of Iveco Defense Vehicles that could prove beneficial – they have significant production experience from the Centauro II. 

Leonardo’s subsidiary, Oto Melara, absolutely shouldn’t be overlooked. As one of the world’s leading cannon manufacturers, with a reach spanning the Navy, Air Force, and especially Land Forces, their prowess is undisputed. They are particularly noted for their work on the 120mm L/44 smoothbore gun, which is used to great effect in the C1 Ariete – Italy’s primary tank.

Spain: Ukraine needs 105mm Centauro and 40mm Pizarro light tanks
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Shifting our gaze to another significant player in this field, Elettronica S.p.A., noticeable for its remarkable specialization in electronic warfare and the creation of defense systems that can perfectly integrate with tanks. Lastly, let’s not undervalue Fincantieri. While their chief focus lies in the naval defense sector, their extensive proficiency in producing components for armored vehicles merits recognition. 

Looking past Leonardo’s contributions, the collaboration between OTO Melara and Iveco also stands as a crucial factor in the production of the LEO 2A/IT. Their joint expertise spans years of developing indigenous tank systems linked to prominent combat vehicles such as the C1 Ariete and Dardo tank system, the 8×8 Freccia infantry fighting vehicle, and the portable 105mm Centauro. This clearly attests to their strength in the field.

RID, in defense of greater Italian involvement in this venture, noted that, “Although customization can occasionally extend timelines and inflate costs, it’s crucial to acknowledge the benefits this brings in terms of enhancing industrial skills, sustainability, and logistical advantages. Plus, it provides autonomy in managing configurations and tweaks in platform functionality.” 

MGCS tank boasts versatility with innovative 140mm cannon firepower
Photo credit: Nexter

Under this light, Italy has become an attractive ally. The future appears bright for further expansion of local tank manufacturing. France has even suggested the possibility of inviting the Italian defense industry into the development of the Main Ground Combat System [MGCS], a Europe-wide tank project currently co-managed by France and Germany.


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