New combat vehicle programme, Italy to spend €5bn

For the combat vehicle programme, Army Armoured Combat System(A2CS), Italy has earmarked a budget of at least €5bn

According to the Italian army as reported by Defense News, the European nation is preparing to choose industrial partners to start working on a programme that will replace its aging Dardo vehicles with some 1,000 new combat vehicles. For the defence news site, the war in the Ukraine is one of the motivators behind the move to purchase new vehicles, as it has emphasised the relevance of land combat.

A2CS is due to kick off with the selection of partner firms within the next few months. “From a programmatic point of view, all documents related to the operational requirement have been approved and the Ministry of Defence has allocated an important part of the necessary budget,” said Major General Francesco Olla, the head of the Army’s General Planning Financial Division. “Therefore, the procurement activities will begin in the next few months.”

Combat vehicles with robust capabilities

The A2CS programme anticipates the purchase of vehicles, the site says, with scalable armour, open architecture, a strong command-and-control system, and the ability to work with unmanned aerial and ground vehicles. Moreover, it is looking for vehicles that are able to share targets with other platforms, use a wide range of ammunition, and tackle threats from improvised explosive devices, anti-tank missiles, and drones.

Combat vehicles
Credit: Unsplash

Scalable budget, European partners

Italy’s 2023 defence budget set out €5.2bn for the A2CS programme, which will extend over the course of 14 years, yet the sum dedicated to A2CS could go up to as much as €15 bn.

The budget also claimed that the programme would be a part of a “multinational context, based on alliances with solid European firms that already work with Italian companies.”

The military official said he anticipated the cooperation between European firms such as the strategic alliance signed between the Italian aerospace, defence, and security firm, Leonardo, and the Dutch defence industry holding, KNDS, last December.

“I do not see any [European Union] country capable of developing such a complex technological programme alone because of the associated costs and requested technological know-how. Therefore, we expect to see multinational cooperation in this regard, and I am sure that the recent agreement signed by Leonardo and KNDS is a very encouraging step toward that direction,” said Maj. Gen. Olla.

The partnership between Leonardo and KNDS was aimed at bringing Italy into the Main Ground Combat System European battle tank programme, the site reports, and could lead to possible collaboration on the new Leopard tanks that Italy is purchasing from KNDS.

Italian industrial capabilities

Although Olla stressed the importance of European collaboration for developing the combat vehicle programme, the military official also claimed that it is not likely for Italy to purchase pre-existing vehicles, and that an Italian company is likely to take the lead for the new vehicles’ design. “It is not only a matter of investments and jobs obtained in our homeland, but also an operational problem if you think of the logistics of the systems and the required development and upgrades they will bring with them,” he maintained.

“It does not mean that Italy will be self-sufficient, but we need to recover our industrial capabilities to produce high-quality platforms, which represent the best tool we can put in the hand of our warriors to give them the higher probability to accomplish their mission and get back home safe,” he added.

For some, however, the idea of creating new combat vehicles from scratch would delay the programme, adding as much as seven years to the project’s time line.

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Featured image credit: Unsplash

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