Italian Army has signed a contract with Iveco-Oto Melara Consortium (CIO) for the purchase of 30 Freccia 8×8 wheeled medium armoured vehicles.
The contract, which also includes ten years of integrated logistics support, was signed on 27 December 2019 at Palazzo Guidoni, seat of the General Secretariat of Defence and National Armaments Directorate (SGD/NAD).
Out of the 30 vehicles ordered, 25 are in anti-tank version and 5 in combat version. The contract marks the resumption of the supply of vehicles to the Italian Army Second Medium Brigade, a unit already operating 381 platforms in various configurations.
The contract makes use of funds allocated in the Tri-ministerial Convention between the Ministries of Defence, Economic Development and Finance, allocating around 1.5 billion Euros to the Freccia VBM project in the coming years (up to 2032), drawn from resources approved by the 2017 and 2018 Budget Bills.
The Freccia VBM (Freccia Veicolo Blindato Medio, “Arrow Medium Armoured Vehicle”) is an 8×8 Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) in use with the Italian Army. It was developed from the B1 Centauro wheeled tank destroyer.
Freccia is a family of vehicles and are available in various versions including combat IFV, anti-tank, mortar carrier and command post versions. Freccia IFV is equipped with an Oerlikon KBA 25mm automatic cannon and the anti-tank variant is equipped with Spike MR/LR anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) in addition to the autocannon.
Thanks to a hull designed to provide maximum protection, a powerful Iveco engine coupled with the traditional H drive, three steering axles, HITFIST turret with 25 mm cannon and advanced Command, Control and Communications (C3) systems by Leonardo, the Freccia VBM assures crews excellent tactical and strategic mobility, and force protection combined with adequate firepower in a wide range of operational scenarios.
The Freccia/Centauro family of vehicles are manufactured by Iveco – Oto Melara Consortium, CIO in short, which was established in 1985 on equal participation between Iveco Defence Vehicles, a division of CNH Industrial, and Oto Melara (now Leonardo).
Within the Consortium, Iveco Defence Vehicles is responsible for engines, gears and all the automotive components, the hull and the final integration of wheeled armoured vehicles while Leonardo is responsible for weapon systems, sight and fire control systems and the hull and the final integration of tracked armoured vehicles.
In July 2018, CIO signed a contract worth 159 million Euros with the Italian Ministry of Defence for the acquisition for the first tranche of ten Centauro II armoured vehicles. Centauro II is an upgraded variant of the Centauro wheeled tank destroyer.
The 30-ton Centauro II features a larger 120 mm main gun (in place of a 105mm), digital communications system, a 720 hp engine delivering 24 hp/ton, and wheels extending farther out from the hull for greater stability and better protection against mine blasts.