The Italian 8×8 Centauro Family Development
Like most Western Countries, Italy has also been steering towards the use of 8×8 wheeled AFV’s, so as to give its armed forces a more rapidly deployable force, which is quicker on its feet around the battlefield thanks to the use of wheels rather than slower tracked vehicles.
Like all most modern AFV’s within the Italian Army, they are developed and manufactured in a consortium of indigenousness companies working together towards the finished vehicle.
IVECO Fiat developed and manufactured the standard vehicle hull and the automotive components (engine, transmission and suspension etc) of the vehicle.
The Italian 8×8 Centauro Family Mobility and Protection
The vehicle uses a IVECO Fiat VTCA V6 turbocharged diesel engine, which generates 520hp and coupled with an automatic transmission. It uses hydrogas suspension, with the front four wheels being power assisted steering. Engine section is on the front right of the hull with the driver on the left. The vehicle has a very good overall mobility capability:
Power to weight ratio – 20.8hp/ton
Top road speed – 105+ km/h
Operational range – 800km
Trench crossing – 1.2m wide
Fording – 1.5m deep
The hull is an all welded steel construction giving protection against 25mm rounds and artillery splinter shells over the frontal arc. Protection can be increased against 30mm thanks to the addition of a non-specified appliqué armour being added.
The hull forms the back bone of the Centauro family:
Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank
This is the first variant of the family and whilst compared to other Reconnaissance vehicles such as the British Scimitar and USA Bradley, is the most heavily armed in the world.
It mounts the OtoMelera HITFACT® turret in the 105mm main gun configuration, which is integrated into the hull by IVECO Fiat.
The use a 105mm main gun gives the vehicle an anti-tank capability, but also the ability to effectively attack other threats providing a high level of protection for other vehicles/forces its deployed with.
It mounts the OtoMelera HITFACT® turret in the 120mm main gun configuration, which is integrated into the hull by IVECO Fiat.
The Centauro II is the latest version. Its fitted with a 120mm smoothbore main gun. A working version for trialls was completed in late 2014.
This is the Infantry Fighting Vehicle. It mounts the OtoMelera HITFIST® turret in the 25mm main gun configuration and carries 8 fully kitted infantry troops in the rear section of the hull.
The Freccia also comes in the following variants – combat anti-tank / command & control / mortar carrier / Ambulance / Recovery vehicle for Centauro family.
The Italian 8×8 Centauro Family Firepower
OtoMelera HITFACT® turret
It has a three-man crew (commander, gunner and loader). It can be mounted with either a 120mm (Calibre Length 45) or 105mm (Calibre Length 52) low recoil main gun, giving the vehicle an anti-tank killing (or impair) capability. It uses a 7.62mm coaxial Machine Gun for close encounters. The turret has a full 360 degree traverse (electrically powered) and a dual axis stabilized main gun (with thermal sleeve), providing a fire on the move capability.
The gunner has a fully stabilized sight with day and thermal Infa Red channels. The commander has an independent sight for hunter killer capability and can take control of the turret when required. The ballistic targeting computer is modern with various sensors such as wind and laser designator.
The turret mounts smoke grenade launchers and can be fitted with the same non-specified appliqué armour as used on the hull.
OtoMelera HITFIST® turret
It has a two man crew, vehicle commander (on the left) and gunner (on the right). It can be fitted with either a 25 or 30mm chain gun, carrying two hundred rounds or varying rounds. It uses a 7.62mm coaxial Machine Gun for close encounters.
It can be if required to be fitted with two TOW anti-tank missile launchers. The main gun is stabilised, with the gunner having a fully stabilized sight with day and thermal Infa Red channels.
The Italian 8×8 Centauro Family Operators
400 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank (OtoMelera HITFACT® turret 105mm). Currently the fleet number is being reduced and those remaining in service are planned to be upgraded to the Centauro 2 when development has ended.
249 VBM Freccia, 172 IFV’s, 36 combat anti-tank, 20 command & control, 21 mortar carrier, 4 ambulance.
Production commenced in 1991 with final deliveries in 2002.
84 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank (OtoMelera HITFACT® turret 105mm).
4 VBM Freccia, Recovery.
6 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank (OtoMelera HITFACT® turret 105mm).
3 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank (OtoMelera HITFACT® turret 120mm).
141 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank (OtoMelera HITFACT® turret 105mm) are being supplied from Italian Army surplus.
The Italian 8×8 Centauro Family Combat history
The Italian Forces are a somewhat publically unsung contributor to UN and NATO missions, which has seen the deployment of the Centauro family in Africa, the Middle East (still is in service in Lebanon), the Balkans and Iraq. In Iraq it saw action in 2004 when it FUBAR’d a building that was full of insurgents sniping on Coalition Forces.
The ability for the OtoMelera HITFACT® turret to be fitted with a 120mm smoothbore and the high level of mobility, will see the vehicle in service for many years to come.