MBT for Italy: if not the Leopard, why not the Merkava?

MBT for Italy: if not the Leopard, why not the Merkava?
MBT for Italy: if not the Leopard, why not the Merkava?

Negotiations between Leonardo and KNDS for the development of the Leopard 2A8 tank in its “Italian” or “Italianized” version to equip the Italian Army have been interrupted.

The breaking point, according to what was reported by various press outlets and which transpires between the lines of the respective company press releases, seems to have been the difference in views regarding the percentage of work on the platform to be carried out in Italy and on how many and which Italian components where to mount the MBT optioned by Rome.

The news is bitter because it means that, to date, the only project to remain standing in the short-medium term for the heavy component of our armored forces is that of the modernization of the C1 tank Aries to its C2 version, operated by the CIO consortium (Iveco-OTO Melara). A compromise solution, while waiting for the Army to be equipped with a new generation tank.

The AICS project is long-term, while the construction of the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), the tank of the Franco-German future whose partnership Italy aims to enter, is blocked by intersecting industrial rivalries. An uphill road, therefore, which would require Italian political, military and industrial decision makers to find a solution as soon as possible for the serious shortcomings that the heavy armored component of the Italian Army has revealed.

There are at least three paths you can follow:

1) National solution: acceleration of the C2 modernization and delivery program Aries, with speeding up – which means increasing investments and determining certain times – of the AICS program. There is no denying how difficult it is to achieve. Not to mention that it would simply be a matter of plugging, and not even in the optimal way, the serious shortcomings already highlighted.

2) Foreign solution: the one that involves the acquisition of foreign platforms, such as the South Korean K2 Black Pantherthe American M1 AbramsGermans Leopard 2 A8 And Panther KF51 (the latter still under development and based on the Leopard 2A4), the Israeli Merkava or the British Challengers, in their “standard” versions, without the involvement of the Italian industry in the sector. This is the solution advocated by the “purists”, but far from the traditional policy followed in our country of wanting to also involve the national industry in the development and production of the platforms.

3) Realistic solution: identification of a foreign platform to acquire fairly quickly, so as to place it alongside the C2 Ariesto then start production in Italy under license and with any changes and/or improvements that standards, operational experiences and field needs impose on the Italian Army.

It is useless to deny the importance of quickly having platforms that guarantee operational readiness and action capacity for the armored component of the EI, while lessons from Ukraine and Gaza are confirming the centrality of the MBT in contemporary warfare. In this respect, the logistical-commercial preference for a tank produced in Europe is firm, evaluating exclusively the technical-military characteristicsThe Merkava it would probably be the most suitable choice to equip the Army.

Photo: IDF

 
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