ROME, ITALY — In 2022, the Italian government indicated that it would invest €878.8 million to finance the mid-life modernization of 125 of the 200 C.1 Ariete battle tanks deployed by the Esercito Italiano.
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This operation was to consist of equipping these machines with a new motor-propeller unit with a power of 1500 hp. [supplied by Iveco], enhanced protection against mines and improvised explosive devices [EEI or IED], and improved fire control.
For several days, however, the idea of equipping the Italian army with German Leopard 2A7+ tanks has been discussed. Leopard 2A7+ is known in Germany under the name UrbOb. Under this name it has been tested by the Bundeswehr UrbOb or the Leopard 2A7+ is qualified by the German Ministry of Defence.
Thus, in a short message citing “well-informed sources”, the Agenparl agency, which specializes in parliamentary news, suggested that Rome planned to receive 250 copies for a total of 8 billion euros.
Then, in an interview given to Rivista Italiana Difesa [RID – Italian Defense Review], General Pietro Serino, Chief of Staff of the Esercito Italiano, confirmed this interest in the Leopard 2A7+… but referring to the purchase of 125 copies.
New tanks and BMPs
That said, during a hearing in the Chamber of Deputies, General Luciano Portolano, head of procurement at the Italian Ministry of Defense, argued that it was urgent to compensate for some capability deficits… And to mention the purchase of new tanks… but also as well as the replacement of the Infantry Fighting Vehicles [IFV] Dardo, with a relatively new design. “We are evaluating all options,” he said, refraining from specifying what models of tanks and BMPs are envisaged.
Anyway, an Italian defense source told Defense News that there is talk of equipping the Esercito Italiano with 250 battle tanks, of which 125 could be the modernized Ariete. As for the remaining 125, Giorgio Mulle, former deputy minister of defense and deputy of Forza Italia [a member of the government coalition led by Giorgia Meloni] explained to the American magazine that they could be hired.
In addition, General Portolano indicated that the Italian Ministry of Defense is in the process of defining its requirements for “new generation” tanks and BMPs, which could be developed with input from the Transalpine industry. And, not surprisingly, he cited the Franco-German Major Ground Combat System [MGCS]. In fact, Italy has never hidden its interest in this program, even if it has tried – without success so far – to join it.
Rusted Italian Leopard 1
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that at the end of last year, Italy showed dozens of Leopard 1 tanks, stored, rusted, and out of service. A failed deal between Italy and a South American client left them in this situation in Italy. They are located in Lenta – a town and municipality in Northern Italy, Vercelli province, Piedmont region. Pictures on the internet show rows of rolled-up tanks waiting for their next destination.
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Italy recently scrapped a large part of this modification of German tanks. The rest were prepared for export, but as we mentioned – the deal fell through.
The first impression is that there is a lot of rust on the tank chains. It is also not known what the current technological and operational status of the stored Italian armored fighting vehicles is.
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