TechItalian Parliament approves $10.72 billion project for 132 Leopard 2A8 tanks and support vehicles

Italian Parliament approves $10.72 billion project for 132 Leopard 2A8 tanks and support vehicles

The Leopard 2A8 tank at the IDET 2023 exhibit.
The Leopard 2A8 tank at the IDET 2023 exhibit.
Images source: © The text is "" and since it's a proper name, I'm not translating it as per your instructions.

4:54 AM EST, February 25, 2024

According to the German portal Hartpunkt, this approval supports the Italian Ministry of Defense's proposal to acquire 132 Leopard 2A8 tanks and 140 support vehicles based on the same chassis for $9.83 billion. The agreement also involves a significant contribution from the Italian industry, with the Leonardo Company as the designated contractor.

The contract fulfillment process is set in two phases. The first phase starts this year and is expected to finish by 2026. This phase will oversee the construction of a production line in La Spezia, and supervise the pre-series production of the tanks and their approval. The second phase spans from 2027 to 2037, during which 132 tanks and 140 support vehicles are expected to be produced.

Diverging from their German counterparts, the Italian tanks will incorporate the Leonardo fire control system used in the modernized C1 Ariete tanks and the Centauro II wheeled fire support vehicle. Additional elements such as communication systems or generators to power the tank's on-board electronics with the main engine off, can also be expected. This feature significantly lowers the tank's thermal signature during a stop.

Leopard 2A8: a new addition for challenging times

The Leopard 2A8 tanks embody the highest accomplishments of the European defense industry. They distinguish themselves from previous models by integrating with the advanced Israeli Trophy active defense system, which is also deployed in American M1A2 SEP V2/3 Abrams tanks.

Devised by Rafael, the Trophy system comprises radars mounted on the tank turret and countermeasure launchers, which are responsible for neutralizing incoming objects, irrespective of whether these are anti-tank missiles or cumulative head rotary ammunition. On the detection of an incoming threat, a countermeasure is triggered, launching a blast-kinetic penetrator that destroys the object away from the tank's armor.

Incorporation of the Trophy system is crucial, given that due to weight restrictions, a tank's heaviest armor is usually at the front, while the sides, rear, and top have significantly weaker protection. Anti-tank gunners and drone pilots often take advantage of this aspect, a fact highlighted by conflicts witnessed in regions such as Ukraine.

Furthermore, the Leopard 2A8 employs cutting-edge optoelectronics and communication systems. Its turret roof has been reinforced to offer enhanced protection against cluster ammunition. Possible use of an armor solution similar to Igelpanzerung mats, utilized in Puma infantry fighting vehicles and PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, may be noted here.

Due to these improvements, the Leopard 2A8 tank is well adapted for the modern battlefield. Its capabilities are expected to be adequate for several decades, until the introduction of the future tank resulting from the MGCS program for several European armed forces.

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