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What will change for Italy in Defense with the German Leopard 2s

What will change for Italy in Defense with the German Leopard 2s

Italy will buy the latest generation German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Facts, numbers and analysts' opinions

Italy will buy Leopard 2 from Germany, with what consequences and fallout?

On 12 July, the Undersecretary of State for Defence, Isabella Rauti, in response to a question with immediate response lodged by the M5s group leader Marco Pellegrini at the Chamber's Defense Commission, confirmed her intention to purchase German tanks for the Italian Army so as to strengthen its ground forces.

Undersecretary Rauti (Fratelli d'Italia) announced that the program for the acquisition of the new Leopard 2 tanks "will be included among those scheduled to start in the forthcoming DPP 2023-2025", or in the next multi-year programmatic document (Dpp) of the Defense for the three-year period. The resources envisaged by the Defense are equal to 4 billion euros starting from 2024 against an overall estimated need of around 8 billion euros. Therefore the programme, included among the initiatives expected to start, will be submitted to parliamentary scrutiny.

The Leopard 2A8 is produced by the German Kmw (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann). The company developed the Leopard 2 with Rheinmetall, which makes the gun, ammunition, fire control and guidance systems.

At the same time, the representative of the Dicastery headed by Crosetto confirmed that " the modernization of the Ram tanks" managed by the CIO, the Iveco Defense Vehicles Consortium – Oto Melara (Leonardo) will continue.

“The size of the contract that will be awarded to Krauss Maffei Wegman poses industrial policy problems: will they be produced in Italy by Oto Melara (now Leonardo), like their predecessors Leopard 1 in the 1960s? Or will Berlin be asked to “compensate” the investment with a shopping spree of Made in Italy equipment?” asked La Repubblica .

Here's what industry experts say about it.


With the raging war in Ukraine which has shown the need to strengthen land forces, "the Defense has decided to adopt a specific capability development strategy suitable for reconciling the right balance between capability needs, fulfillment times and international synergies in support of the Country System” explained Rauti.

This solution envisages: “in the short term, the acquisition of new generation platforms, already commercially available, to equip the tank regiments of the Army with a real and effective combat capability; the complementary renewal of the platforms in use, ie the modernization of the Ariete wagons; in the long term, the launch of collaborative programs for the development of a future generation European Main Battle Tank (MBT)," added Undersecretary Rauti.

In fact, participation in the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), the next generation European tank, remains a priority for the government.

“From the point of view of international cooperation, the acquisition of new generation Leopard tanks will create advantageous conditions for the expansion of the partnership to the development program of the future European MBT, ie the third line of action already mentioned. In fact, a deeper cooperation with the German counterpart will facilitate the inclusion in the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System – MGCS project, which is not expected to go online before 2040”, Rauti underlined.


"Cooperation with Kmw is essential in order to be a partner of the Mgcs programme" claims Aurelio Giansiracusa, military analyst, animator of Ares-Osservatorio Difesa to Startmag .

“Also because we have to make up for years of technological gap in the tracked sector (not in the wheeled sector); we are stuck with the Ariete C1 and Dardo built in the second half of the 1990s but stuck in terms of design and development in the 1980s; in short, we must return to a sector that has not been controlled for at least two decades”, added the expert.


As regards the possibility of a production line in Italy for the German order, "I believe (I don't have a glass ball) that with a good approximation there will be an Italian industrial participation in the project also because the numbers are favorable between tanks and special variants ; the latest precedent concerns the PzH 2000, the self-propelled heavy artillery which, at the time, was purchased in 70 units, the first two of which purchased in Germany and 68 units built under licence”, observed Giansiracusa.


After that, “it remains to understand what the outline of this operation could be. There is talk of a G2G between Rome and Berlin: it would be excellent, but it should be done for real and quickly, given the interest at stake”, wrote Pietro Batacchi, director of Rid already a month ago.

“And then there's the question of compensation: the licensed production of the wagon in Italy is certainly not enough. More is needed. The other party could use the SAMP/T NG, and also the AW-249, despite the decision to go with the H-145M which, let's remember, is not a combat helicopter”, added Batacchi. Berlin recently decided to phase out by 2038 the Tiger attack helicopters of Airbus Helicopters, in service with its Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) since 2003, and to abandon the Tiger Mark III project for their modernization, started with France and Spain. At the same time the German Defense Ministry plans to purchase H145M light military helicopters, also produced by Airbus Helicopters.


Finally, "it is quite clear that in the context of an intergovernmental agreement between Rome and Berlin, the Aics issue could also end up on the table", Giansiracusa explained to Startmag .

The Italian Aics (Armored infantry combat system) program provides for the purchase of 679 tracked armored vehicles with which to replace the now obsolete Dardo and M113 IFVs. In the last Defense Dpp 2022-2024, the government had budgeted 3.7 billion euros until 2036, a tranche of the overall requirement at the time estimated at 6 billion.

According to the Ares Difesa expert, "the question of cooperation with Germany could also extend to the Aics program for the new infantry fighting vehicle".

“It remains to be seen whether with KMW which in that case can offer the Puma and/or the Boxer on a tracked hull or with Rheinmetall which offers the Lynx KF41. At present, the possibility of adopting the Swedish/British Italianised CV90 (which it is said could be the result of an agreement between BAE Systems and IDV who produce together the ACV for the USMC and the Navy) seems to have lost ground", concluded the 'expert Aurelio Giansiracusa.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/innovazione/cosa-cambiera-per-litalia-nella-difesa-con-i-leopard-2-tedeschi/ on Sun, 16 Jul 2023 17:10:57 +0000.