TechItaly's $9.21 billion deal for 132 Leopard 2A8 tanks under review: A boost for local industries

Italy's $9.21 billion deal for 132 Leopard 2A8 tanks under review: A boost for local industries

The Leopard 2A7 tank with the integrated EuroTrophy active defense system in the turret.
The Leopard 2A7 tank with the integrated EuroTrophy active defense system in the turret.
Images source: © Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International | Fric.matej
11:04 AM EST, February 16, 2024

Italy showed an interest in acquiring 250 vehicles, including 133 Leopard 2 tanks, during the second half of 2023. Ongoing discussions have brought the execution of the contract closer to reality.

We now have more information regarding the contract and the configuration of the Leopard 2A8 tanks, which are intended to reinforce the upgraded C1 Ariete. The 14-year agreement to purchase the Leopard 2 tanks is projected to cost Italy around 9.21 billion US dollars. A critical part of the contract is the on-site production in La Spezia, involving substantial participation of local industries,.

The Italian variation of the Leopard 2A8 tank differs from others in a few key aspects, including the employment of a fire control system devised by the Leonardo consortium, which is also used in the modernized C1 Ariete tanks and the Centauro II wheeled fire support vehicle.

The Leopard 2A8 tanks: a high point in European armored design

The Leopard 2A8 tanks are considered a crowning achievement in European armoured design. A key feature that sets them apart from previous models is integrating with the advanced Israeli active defence system, Rafael Trophy, which the latest American M1A2 Abrams tanks also utilize.

The Rafael Trophy system comprises radars mounted on the tank's turret and counter-missile launchers. These launchers are designed to neutralize any incoming object physically, be it an anti-tank missile or circulating ammunition with a cumulative warhead.

The importance of the Rafael Trophy system's integration can't be overstated, given the fact that tanks, due to weight constraints, are outfitted with the strongest armour at the front, leaving the side and rear armour substantially weaker. Hence, gunners of anti-tank systems and drone pilots frequently attempt to exploit these weak spots, as regularly witnessed in Ukraine.

Furthermore, the A8 version features cutting-edge optoelectronics and communication systems, reinforcing the turret roof to enhance protection against cluster munitions. It is speculated that a solution similar to the Igelpanzerung mats, which are also used in the Puma infantry fighting vehicles and the PzH 2000 howitzers, could have been utilized.

These improvements have made the Leopard 2A8 tank fully compatible with the modern battlefield, providing sufficient protection for several decades.

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