Italy reactivates Leopard 1s, M113s and M109L SPGs stocks massively

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In Italy, there’s a significant activation of military equipment that has been in storage. Recently, satellite images have surfaced online, revealing Italian warehouses designated for long-term military storage. You can observe that many of these warehouses were either partially or completely empty. The primary equipment being moved from storage includes Leopard 1 tanks, M113 armored personnel carriers, and M109L self-propelled guns. 

Video screenshot

Rome has not released any official statements regarding this large-scale reactivation of ground combat equipment. However, BulgarianMilitary.com speculates that a portion of these combat vehicles, particularly the most suitable ones, will likely end up in Ukraine. It’s also plausible that the equipment not currently operational is undergoing repairs. But, as we mentioned, there is no official information explaining why these warehouses are being emptied. 

Italy is actively supplying military aid to Ukraine, although some transfers are not officially reported. Previously, information about the provision of such equipment to Ukraine’s armed forces often came to light through journalistic investigations or when Italian combat vehicles were spotted in the Ukrainian army. 

Photo credit: Defence-Blog

For instance, a Puma armored personnel carrier was destroyed near the Belogorivka region. The delivery of these APCs to the Ukrainian Armed Forces had not been previously announced, indicating a secret transfer of such equipment from Italy.

Ukraine is not the only possibility

While it’s a possibility that Italian tanks, armored vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers might be sent to Ukraine, Italy has shown that their domestic defense needs take priority. For instance, eight months into the war in Ukraine, Rome had 722 M113 armored personnel carriers in its inventory. Rather than dispatch them to the front lines, these vehicles underwent demilitarization under the D3 project. 

Photo credit: NATO

The Italian Army decommissioned these combat vehicles through a detailed process of demilitarization, disassembly, and disposal, spearheaded by NSPA – the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. Italy managed to earn 3 million euros [approximately $2.9 million] by selling eight million kilograms of recycled scrap on the international metal markets. It’s noteworthy that this process also saved 41,000 tons of CO₂ emissions. Additionally, the recycling of non-ferrous and ferrous metals bolstered the circular economy. This intricate process demands meticulous actions, including the cutting of many critical components to ensure that the military machines cannot be reused.

The combat vehicles’ condition

The condition of stored war machines revealed by satellite imagery remains questionable. This issue is significant, especially considering the fallout just eight months into the conflict. An attempted deal to sell Italian Leopard 1 tanks to a South African buyer collapsed due to their poor quality. These tanks were kept in the city of Lenta. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Initial observations show extensive rust on the tank chains. Removing rust is a complex, time-consuming task that could span from three months to a year. Despite this, the current technological and operational status of these stored Italian armored vehicles remains uncertain. 

However, the tanks in Lenta have a notable advantage — they’re housed in a facility specializing in the repair of heavy armored fighting vehicles. This proximity to repair resources means they could potentially be operational in under three months. Unfortunately, BulgarianMilitary.com does not have updated information on the fate of these tanks. 

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