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The Italian Army’s ambitious IFV plan

14th June 2024 - 13:20 GMT | by Sam Hart in Paris

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A total of 679 tracked IFVs will replace the Italian Army’s 200 Dardo IFVs. (Photo: Italian Army)

The Italian Army has plans in place to procure up to 679 tracked IFVs to replace 200 Dardo IFVs currently in service with its mechanised units, as well as its M113 fleet.

The Italian Army is set to invest €6 billion (US$6.4 billion) in procuring 679 tracked Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles (AIFVs) with deliveries scheduled between 2026 and 2035. As many as 679 tracked IFVs will be procured to replace 200 Dardo IFVs currently in service with its mechanised units, as well as its M113 fleet, according to the latest update from Shephard Defence Insight.

According to the Italian MoD’s 2022–23 multi-year policy document (DPP), €2.1 billion will be invested in the programme between 2022 and 2035. The programme will have a reported overall cost of approximately €6 billion including support costs.

Deliveries will be scheduled to take place between 2026 and 2035, while feasibility studies were announced to have begun in February 2024 and will last two years.

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Formally known as the Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV), the programme has gone through further naming interactions including “AICS” and now “A2CS”.

Identifying a vehicle fit for use by ground forces

The Italian Army has identified a requirement for new tracked IFVs to equip its armoured and mechanised brigades. These new vehicles will replace 200 CIO Dardo IFVs and all remaining M113s currently in service with the Italian Army.

Intended to support the army’s pivot towards enabling multi-domain operations, the new IFV will be expected to incorporate next-generation capabilities and to be compatible with the Italian military’s command-and-control and battle management system (BMS) C4I systems. It will form one component of the Italian Army’s Armoured Infantry Combat System (AICS) system of systems, which will also include a new main battle tank (MBT).

For the AIFV, the Italian Army desires a modular platform that can form the basis for a family of vehicles comprising an IFV, command post, anti-tank vehicle, mortar carrier, engineering vehicle, reconnaissance vehicle, anti-air vehicle, ambulance, munitions transporter and driver training vehicle.

Although technical specifications for the new platform have not been publicly disclosed, the Italian Army is understood to require a platform with a high level of blast and ballistic protection, lethality, growth potential and networking capabilities.

How changing parameters led to growing numbers of vehicles

The parameters of the programme have evolved since it was first announced. Whereas the army’s 2017 annual report envisaged the procurement of 375 vehicles between 2024 and 2033, the number of vehicles rose to 661 by the time the 2019 annual report was published.

According to reports published in Italian defence media in April 2021, an RfI for the programme was released in December 2020 and the number of vehicles required has increased again to 679.

Under the plans outlined in the Italian MoD’s multi-year planning document (DPP) published in August 2021, a total of €2.1 billion will be invested into the programme between 2022 and 2035.

Deliveries of the first batch of vehicles will reportedly take place over a 10-year period between 2025 and 2035.

Reports indicate that the programme will have a total cost of €6 billion. It has been unclear whether this additional funding will be allocated before 2035, or if the programme will continue beyond 2035.

In line with the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) framework, the Italian Army wants to cooperate with European partners in the development and production of its new IFVs. It is hoped that this will harmonise requirements and strengthen its interoperability with its allies, while also laying the groundwork for future cooperation in the procurement of a new MBT.

Fuelling a European bidding war

Several European suppliers are understood to be interested in competing for the Italian Army programme including Rheinmetall with its KF41 Lynx, BAE Systems with its CV90, and General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) with its Austro-Spanish Cooperative Development (ASCOD) 42 platform.

Italy’s own CIO consortium (responsible for manufacturing the Dardo) also released a rendering of a new IFV platform armed with a 30mm cannon in September 2021. The latter may be related to previous reports concerning a Dardo 2 being under development.

During a visit to Italy in January 2021, the CEO of Rheinmetall is reported to have claimed that up to 70% of the value of a future contract could go to Italian industry if the Rheinmetall platform was selected. This would be achieved through the production of the Lynx in Italy and possibly the use of an Italian engine instead of the Liebherr powerpack.

Rheinmetall is understood to have proposed the delivery of the first two prototypes in 2023, followed by the delivery of more than 400 production vehicles.

KNDS and Leonardo split

On 11 June 2024, KNDS and Leonardo announced in separate press releases on 11 June that they had ended negotiations on forming a partnership for the Italian procurement and domestic production of the Leopard 2A8 MBT and a new IFV.

While not explicitly expected to be the manufacturer for the A2CS program, reports had suggested Italy was seeking a “double ticket” with a singular wider European OEM for the two programmes to work in conjunction with CIO/Leonardo.

According to Italian defence magazine RID, the leading platforms remain the CV90 Mk4 from Swedish manufacturer BAE Systems and the German Rheinmetall Lynx KF41.

Given the breakdown in negotiations between KNDS and Leonardo regarding the Leopard 2A8, the likely alternative for the Italian MBT programme is the KF51 Panther from Rheinmetall, placing the German company in a good position to offer a Lynx/Panther “double ticket”.

More information on the programme’s forecast methodology, including programme value, unit cost and timelines, can be found here.

Shephard's Eurosatory 2024 coverage is sponsored by:

BAE Systems

AICS [Italy]

M113

KF-41 Lynx

Dardo

Sam Hart

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Sam Hart


Sam Hart is the Land Analyst for Shephard Media's Defence Insight. Before joining Shephard, Sam …

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