TechItaly reactivates weapon reserves amid rising speculation on Ukraine aid

Italy reactivates weapon reserves amid rising speculation on Ukraine aid

Leopard 1 tanks in storage, illustrative photo
Leopard 1 tanks in storage, illustrative photo
Images source: © Reuters

4:03 PM EDT, May 19, 2024

Italy is massively reactivating its weapon reserves, reports the Bulgarian Military portal, which cites satellite images published online. The photos show how Italian warehouses are emptying, primarily of Leopard 1 tanks, M113 armored personnel carriers, and M109L guns.

Satellite images depicting Italian warehouses where the local army stores weapons intended for long-term storage have sparked numerous speculations among analysts regarding the destination of the disappearing machines from Italy's reserves. Rome has not yet issued statements regarding the reactivation of equipment from military warehouses.

However, as the Bulgarian Military portal noted, some of the mentioned vehicles may be heading to Ukraine. It's unclear, though, what specific condition the reactivated vehicles are in. It cannot be ruled out that the Italians are clearing out examples from the warehouses that require appropriate preparation to be handed over as part of aid to Ukraine.

Bulgarian Military explains that delivering machines from emptied warehouses to Kyiv is very likely since some transfers from Italy to Ukraine were not officially announced. The truth, however, surfaced only after the appearance of photos or videos confirming the presence of Italian weapons on the front. As an example of this type of operation, the Bulgarian Military cites the sighting of the Italian Puma armored personnel carrier in Ukraine, about whose transfer there were no official reports.

Equipment from Italian warehouses

What specific vehicles are being discussed regarding their reactivation from Italian warehouses? First and foremost, these are Leopard 1 tanks (most likely in the A5 IT modernization). While these are indeed older constructions, dating back to the 1960s, the A5 variant from the 1990s introduced many modifications that significantly increased the vehicle's utility, so even in 2024, the Leopard 1 A5 can pose a threat on the front.

This vehicle is equipped with the EMES 18 fire control system, which is characterized by the presence of a thermal sight and ballistic computer. Additionally, the Leopard 1's defensive capabilities are provided by a 105 mm rifled gun, which, when using APFSDS-T ammunition, can easily penetrate the armor of Russian T-72B tanks.

Satellite images from Italy also reportedly show M113 armored personnel carriers, among the most popular vehicles of this type in the world. They are in service in over 40 countries. Before the introduction of today's famous M2 Bradley, the M113 was the primary vehicle in the arsenal of the American infantry. It is powered by an engine generating almost 300 horsepower, which propels the vehicle to about 40 mph. The M113 is armed with an M2HB heavy machine gun of caliber .50.

The last machine observed by the Bulgarian Military is the M109L, a type of self-propelled howitzer primarily valued for its straightforward operation. The Italian modernization of this weapon features a lengthened barrel of 39 calibers (155 mm), which increased its firing range and improved accuracy. This allows the M109L to shell enemy positions up to 19 miles away. Additionally, the turret of this weapon the Italian army uses includes a 7.62 mm machine gun.

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