The Italian government has signed a $928.6 million deal with CIO, an Iveco and Oto Melara consortium, to upgrade its fleet of aging Ariete tanks.
Under the deal, CIO will replace the battle tanks’ engines with a new version that boasts 1,500 horsepower. The ground weapon system will also get new mine protection kits, modernized turrets, software-defined radios and fire control mechanisms that, according to a Defence Industry Europe report, are similar to the ones used in the Centauro II wheeled tank destroyers.
Italy has 200 Ariete tanks, but only 50 are currently operational. The European country has been planning to upgrade the fighting vehicle for a while now, but the effort became more urgent after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.
In June, Isabella Rauti, junior defense minister of Italy, urged her government to acquire 133 Leopard 2A8 combat tanks to meet its military requirements under NATO. However, an anonymous source told Defense News that a deal to finalize that purchase from German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann would unlikely be finalized before the end of 2023.