The Centauro family of wheeled armoured fighting vehicles has been developed by Iveco Fiat Oto Melara Syndicated Company, based in Rome. Iveco Fiat is responsible for the vehicle and powerpack development, and Oto Melara developed the turrets and weapon systems.
Centauro entered production in 1991 and 400 Centauro reconnaissance anti-tank vehicles (tank destroyers) are in service with the Italian Army.
The Centauro family of 8×8 vehicles consists of the reconnaissance anti-tank vehicle, the VBC infantry fighting vehicle and the armoured personnel carrier, all with a common chassis. Centauro is capable of firing while stationary or on the move, against moving or stationary targets by day or night. (Source: Army Technology)
CENTAURO 2 (New Model) – CENTAURO II MGS 120/105
The new Centauro armoured vehicle represents a new stage in the evolution of the storied Centauro 105 and 120mm armoured vehicle, the first 8×8 wheeled antitank vehicle in the world with a high-pressure gun.
As regards mobility in particular, the power-to-weight ratio, increased to 24 HP/tonne, provides unequalled performance in terms of speed and acceleration thanks to the new-generation IVECO engine, offering more than 720 HP, and to the associated modernisation of the transmission, braking system and control electronics.
The digital tyre pressure control (CTIS), allied with run-flat systems, the new suspension and the low nominal ground pressure allow the new Centauro armoured vehicle to extricate itself from any type of terrain.
The second variant of Centauro introduced in 2009, known as Centauro 8×8 VBC or Centauro VBM, features add-on armor for increased protection, larger troops compartment and a turret-mounted 25mm cannon to serve as an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). Other versions have been developed for air defense, field artillery and recovery and repair of damaged Centauros on the battlefield.
The Centauro VBM, also known as Centauro VBC or Freccia within the Italian Army, is an Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) derived from the Centauro 8×8 cavalry fighting vehicle. The new vehicle features a new interior layout allowing for the accommodation of up to eight infantrymen, driver and two-man in the turret. The Italian Army’s 26-ton Freccia is provided with a two-man HitFirst P turret equipped with a 25mm stabilized gun, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 7.62mm roof-mounted machine gun.
The Freccia/Centauro VBM (Veicolo Blindato Medio) is powered by a 550-hp diesel engine which permits a top speed of 110 kph. In addition to the ballistic armor protection, the Freccia is provided with a protection system against Nuclear, Bacteriological and Chemical (NBC) agents. (Source: Deagel.com)
Centauro 2 8×8 armoured wheeled anti-tank vehicle
The new Centauro 2 armoured vehicle has a maximum gross weight of around 30-35 tons and is powered with a 720 HP turbodiesel engine for a high power-to-weight ratio. This, together with the new transmission and power-train, will give it robust off-road performances.
Additionally, the Centauro 2 has shown during recent tests an extraordinary level of protection against mines and IED thanks to the newly designed chassis. The firepower will be similar to that of an MBT thanks to the evolution of the Oto Melara HITFACT turret armed with a 120/45 mm smoothbore gun (compatible with the 120 mm ammunition NATO standard).
Oto Melara HITFACT turret armed with a 120/45 mm smoothbore gun
The turret is fitted for receiving a secondary armament composed of a 7,62mm machine gun coaxially mounted, a 7,62mm or a 12,7mm machine gun pintle mounted, and a set of Smoke Grenade Launcher (SGL).
The HITFACT digital FCS includes gunner’s self-stabilized Day and night IR thermal cameras with integral eye-safe laser rangefinder, a meteo and a vertical reference sensor suite, a Laser Warning (LW) (option) and a Day optical sight, as a back-up.
The new turret fitted on the Centauro 2 is extremely modular and can accommodate different kinds of FCS (Fire Control Systems), armour, weapons (i.e. not only 120 mm but also 105/51 mm rifled gun).
The Italien Army’s first requirement is for 74 vehicles followed by a similar quantity. Currently only the development phase is financed, which includes the building of a prototype, said Brazilian website DefesaNet. According to the Brazilian media, the prototype will start the validation testing phase next June, while the official presentation of the vehicle is scheduled next Autumn. (Source: Army Recognition)
- 389 B1 Centauro, originally.
- 300 remained in service, with the rest in reserve, in June 2013, when a plan was announced to reduce the number of active Centauro to 136 units by 2015, modernizing them to the Centauro II Reconnaissance Anti-Tank 120mm. The remaining units were to either be sold or used to cannibalize parts.
- 249 VBM Freccia (172 standard, 36 combat anti-tank, 20 command center and 21 mortar carrier) in service.
- 261 VBM Freccia (standard, combat anti-tank, command center, mortar carrier and recovery variant) ordered into financial law 2014.
- 120 VBM Recce/ISTAR variant, ordered into financial law 2014.
- 4 VBM Freccia Ambulance.
- 25 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank as gift (from the first vehicles retired by Italian Army) in July 2014.
- 84 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank.
- 4 VBM Recovery.
- 6+3 Centauro 120mm (option for further 24).
- Centauro 105mm
- The baseline and original version, also called Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank.
- Upgraded Centauro with a low recoil 120/45 cannon in a newly designed turret and with new composite armour that can resist up to 40mm APFSDS rounds on the front and 14.5mm on the rest of the body.
- Centauro VBM “Freccia”
The Veicolo Blindato Medio “Freccia” (Italian: Medium Armoured Vehicle “Arrow”) is a reconfigured Centauro to act as a wheeled infantry fighting vehicle with multiple variants, such as command & control or mortar carrier, offering increased armour and NBC protection. It can transport up to eight infantrymen plus three crew.
- Centauro 155/39LW
- Added to the Centauro range on late 2013 to fill the role of a self-propelled howitzer,being able to fire up to 8 rounds/minute to a distance exceeding 60km for guided ammunition. It mounts an ultralight 155/39mm main gun, based on the latest material breakthroughs, and a secondary 7.62 or 12.7mm MG. The 155/39 is manned by a crew of two and provides full NBC and ballistic protection.
- Centauro VBM Recovery
- Serves both as an engineer vehicle and for recovery and repair of damaged armoured vehicles on the battlefield.
- The Centauro Draco is a SPAAG prototype to test the Draco weapon system on the Centauro 8×8 platform. The Draco weapon system primary function is the air defense against rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft firing 76mm DART guided ammunition, but can support other roles such as Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM).
A 125mm gun-armed version is being tested by the Russian army, alongside the standard 105mm-armed version.
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