|Iveco - Oto Melara Consortium - CIO
|Infantry fighting vehicle
Late in 1996, Consorzio Iveco Oto delivered the last of 400 Centauro (8 × 8) 105 mm armed tank destroyers to the Italian Army. Details of this vehicle are given in a separate entry.
The Centauro was selected by Spain to meet its operational requirement and 22 vehicles were delivered late in 2000. Since then a further batch of 62 vehicles has been ordered by Spain and these have now been delivered.
Early in 1996, the prototype of the Centauro (8 × 8) VBC Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) was completed and this was shown in public for the first time at the Eurosatory 1996 defence equipment exhibition held in Paris in June 1996.
This vehicle was developed as a private venture but is aimed at the Italian Army requirement for a wheeled IFV to operate alongside the Centauro tank destroyer.
The prototype Centauro VBC IFV is fitted with an Oto Melara two-man power-operated turret armed with a 25 mm Oerlikon Contraves KBA cannon and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.
Early in 1999 the Italian Army awarded IVECO-Oto Melara a contract for the design, development and construction of three prototypes of the Centauro VBC in the APC/IFV configuration, fitted with an Oto Melara turret armed with a 25 mm cannon and 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.
In addition, four other specialist versions of the VBC are being developed for the Italian Army:
- Mortar carrier
- Command post
- Recovery vehicle
The command vehicle has a raised roofline at the rear and is fitted with extensive communications equipment, as well as a telescopic antenna.
The Italian Army has a requirement for 249 VBC IFV which will be issued to four infantry regiments of the Italian Army that will be part of two future medium brigades. One of these medium brigades will be based in Sicily and the other in Sardinia.
Following trials with a number of prototype vehicles, the Italian Army has placed an order for an initial batch of 54 IFV out of a total requirement of 249 units. In Italian Army service the vehicle will be called the 'VBC Freccia' (VBC is the equivalent of IFV). This initial order comprises 50 in the IFV version plus two command post models (with a raised roof for greater internal volume), one IFV/anti-tank vehicle (which will be fitted with Rafael Spike Medium Range/Long Range anti-tank missiles) and one 120 mm self-propelled mortar system.
IVECO Defence Vehicles have already ordered long lead items to enable the first production IFV to be delivered late in 2007 with final deliveries of the first batch expected to take place in 2009 when production of the second batch will commence. The anti-tank version will be the same but a twin round launcher for the Rafael Spike Medium Range/Long Range anti-tank missile will be added.
The Italian Army name for the vehicle is now the VBC (Veicolo Blindado de Combattimento) Freccia (Arrow), The complete family is referred to as the VBM (Veicolo Blindado Medio).
The hull of the VBC (8 × 8) is virtually identical to that of the Centauro (8 × 8) tank destroyer, with the driver being seated at the front of the hull on the left side with the power pack to the right.
The driver has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and three day periscopes for forward observation, the centre one of which can be replaced by a passive periscope for driving at night.
Production Centauro VBC vehicles would have a wheelbase of 1.65 + 1.6 + 1.6 m compared to the current Centauro tank destroyer which has a wheelbase of 1.6 + 1.45 + 1.45 m.
Production VBC IFV will have a higher level of protection and over the frontal arc and this is claimed to provide protection against 25 to 30 mm attack.
The underside of production vehicles will provide protection against 6 kg anti-tank mines with a higher level of protection being available.
The baseline IFV will be fitted with a new generation two-person Oto Melara Hitfist Plus turret armed with a stabilised Oerlikon Contraves 25 mm KBA cannon (which is already installed in the tracked Dardo IFV of the Italian Army with 200 units in service).
The commander is seated on the left and the gunner on the right with both provided with a single-piece hatch cover, observation periscopes and a sighting system.
A 7.62 mm MG is mounted co-axial with the 25 mm cannon and the anti-tank version will be the same but fitted with a RAFAEL Spike medium range/long range anti-tank guided missile added to the side of the turret.
Turret traverse is 360 degrees and weapon elevation is from -10 to +60 degrees and either the commander or gunner can aim and fire the 25 mm cannon. The turret is fitted with a Galileo Avionica day/thermal sight with a dual field-of-view with integrated laser range-finder.
Some VBC IFV, for example: platoon commander and above, will be fitted with the Galileo Avionica Janus stabilised day/night panoramic sight to allow for hunter/killer target engagements to take place.
The turret will be fitted with Siccona command and control system and a land navigation system with information provided on a flat panel display.
The eight infantry can rapidly dismount via the power-operated ramp at the rear. Each of the infantry is provided with a new individual seat with full harness as well as side and head protection. No firing ports are provided in the troop compartment although these were provided in earlier vehicles. The ramp is provided with an emergency exit door.
Standard equipment includes power steering on the front four and rear two wheels, central tyre pressure inflation system, run-flat tyres, NBC system, integrated air conditioner, laser warning system and fire detection and suppression system.
If the vehicle was fitted with a turret armed with a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun, then a typical crew would consist of a commander/gunner, driver and 10 infantry.
Armoured personnel carrier with a one-person turret in the centre of the vehicle, commander sitting to the left of the turret and eight men sitting in the rear troop compartment.
In addition to the versions for the Italian Army mentioned at the end of the development section, a number of other versions of the VBC have been proposed:
- Centauro armoured combat vehicle with 120 mm low recoil force gun turret (first prototype completed in mid-2002)
- Centauro VBC with OTO 60/70A turret armed with 60 mm gun
- Centauro amphibious
- Centauro 155 mm self-propelled gun
- Centauro NBC reconnaissance vehicle
- Centauro air defence (gun or missile)
- Centauro armoured vehicle launched bridge
Iveco Defence Vehicles at IAV (25.01.2011)
HITFACT 105mm Turret Tested on the Pandur II (08.12.2008)