The Italian MOD has ordered the first ten Centauro II wheeled tanks from Iveco-Oto Melara consortium (CIO). This award, worth 159 million Euro, that includes the procurement of vehicles, equipment, and logistics, is the first tranche of a planned procurement of 136 vehicles.

Modernizing the Centauro vehicle fleet currently in service with the Italian Army, the “New Blindo Centauro”, as it is called by the Italian Army marks a major step forward compared to the previous Centauro I, in terms of power, observation capability, mobility, ergonomics, firing range, communication, and maximum crew protection.

The new wheeled tank is a member of Iveco’s 8×8 family of vehicles used by the mechanized brigades of the Italian Army. Capable of operating in various scenarios, from national security missions to peace-keeping and support operations including all interventions involving the Italian Armed Forces.

At a gross vehicle weight of 30 tonnes, Centauro II is equipped with a new Iveco Vector 8V EURO III powerpack delivering over 720hp, resulting in a combat power to weight ratio of 24 hp/t. Coupled to an automatic gearbox with 7 forward and 1 reverse gears, the vehicle uses an 8×8 H-drive architecture with hydro-pneumatic, independent suspension, three steering axles, and central tire pressure digitally controlled system (CTIS) the vehicle offers superior mobility over rough terrain. Centauro II can travel over 800 km on road, at a top speed of up to 105 km/h; three steerable axles enable turning circle radius of 9 meters while the all-wheel drive enable crossing a two-meter wide trench, moving a 60% gradient, and 30% slope at ease.



The Centauro II turret mounts a 120/45 low recoil force cannon with a muzzle break, a coaxial 7.62 machine gun and an optional Hitrole Mod.L RWS. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

Centauro II features an entirely digital system and a new generation turret mounting with a 120/45mm low recoil force gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Integrated with muzzle brake and semi-automatic loading system, this weapon system provides a firepower equivalent to that of most modern main battle tanks and is capable of firing all latest generation 120 mm, NATO APFSDS and multipurpose munitions. The Centauro II has three crew positions (commander, gunner, and loader) in the turret, but can be operated by two persons, when the automatic loader is used.

The monocoque steel hull was designed to improve protection against mines and IEDs, and modern kinetic threats using add-on ballistic armor fitted to the hull and turret, ensuring a high level of protection against kinetic energy and hollow charge projectiles. The ammunition stowages in the turret and hull are separated from the crew compartment by explosion-proof doors, pre-carved panels and dedicated anti-explosion systems ensuring further crew safety. Run-flat tires and explosion-protected fuel tanks add to the vehicle’s mobility protection.

Centauro II offers significantly improved armor protection, introducing modular add-on armor solutions for the hull and turret, enabling the vehicle to handle more potent threats. Laser warning systems and countermeasures against IED have also been implemented. The vehicle is also protected against fire, explosion and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) effects. The belly is protected against mines, while crew seats offer blast protection for the occupants.

The turret is fitted with latest generation optronics for the commander and gunner and with a suite of communications and command and control systems ensuring maximum situational awareness. The turret mounts a Hitrole light, remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS), that increases operational flexibility in other-than-war scenarios while ensuring maximum crew protection.

Centauro II has an 8×8 H-drive architecture, using hydro-pneumatic and independent suspension and three steering axles to offer high maneuverability and mobility in complex terrain. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update