AICS and “Leopardotto”: yesterday's needs, with solutions available today, the day after tomorrow?

(To Andrea Cucco)

With an ongoing world war that has not yet made its future significance felt in the slightest, our country seems to be playing. It plays with the lives of the military and plays with (debt) funds that we could not afford but which, with the impending global challenge, are legitimate.

Anyone who has worn a uniform has sworn to give their life for something greater than themselves. Will he have to "make up" for the usual national malpractice with his own blood for much longer? I'll leave the answer to those directly interested inner, after the official "excellent and abundant" ritual.

Let's talk about our Army and its total inadequacy in terms of armored vehicles in the face of an already low intensity conflict.

It's not an accusation, is the sober observation made, three years ago now, by the then chief of defense staff, General Vecciarelli, at a hearing in the defense commissions after the war brought against the Armenians by our friends, Azerbaijani hydrocarbon dealers. It is also the very honest admission of Defense Minister Crosetto who, at the beginning of the year, stated: we have de facto armed forces modeled on peacekeeping.

In this past perspective, the expenses for the various armored vehicles which - numerically - redesigned the backbone of the terrestrial component made sense, despite the disgust of the very few cerebrally independent commentators and almost all of the silent final recipients.

What is the Italian Army missing today? All. What to start with? It may seem like a joke but it isn't: the fist on the table is missing!

The days are over when the blood of dozens of soldiers had to be hidden or cleaned up so as not to disturb the aperitif of the politician on duty. The time must also come to an end in which (someone) defense companies impose their profit or incompetence on the real needs of our armed forces calling it (or having their servants define it) "Italian national interest".

This is not a blanket accusation. We truly have, beyond the rhetoric, great excellence in the field of the defense industry capable of creating cutting-edge products. However, even with the war approaching, they will have to comply downgrade important and for essentially ridiculous numbers (in the global defense market), how will they be able to establish themselves or survive?

Let's examine two key programs for the land component: the one for the introduction of a true tank and a true infantry fighting vehicle.

After asphyxiated decades which today see very few autarkic vehicles online that survived the Cold War (until recently tanks Ram about 30 of 200 worked!), with the last DPP (Multi-year Planning Document) of the defense "it seems" funds have arrived for a solution.

With the outbreak of the Ukrainian war less than 700 kilometers from our eastern border, even the most cynical or parochial had to admit that only modern armored vehicles can cope with the new threats. Others, as in past national natural disasters, seem to have immediately started rubbing their hands…

The means chosen for the recovery of the notable gap in the wagon component it is the wagon Leopard 2 in A8 version. For the AIFV (Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle) component, until a few months ago the vote seemed between the CV90 and the Lynx. The first with 30 years of design behind it (but updated over time with different variations), the second the state of the art in terms of capacity and protection (but too advanced to implement for some "excellent" sheet metal beaters from Noantri?).

A disturbing silence seems to have fallen on the final decision for the AIFV.

And thenational interest? The one who had already boldly sent us to die with self-sufficient coffins of earth, sky and sea during the second national conflict... where did it end up? It's still there. More lurking than before!

So here is the Leoprad 2-A8, if left to its voracity (as seems to happen) it will become a "Leopardotto": the Italian variant with parts NOT built under license (after all, can anyone teach us anything?) but adapted or redesigned by us! In short, a "differently operational" Leopard 2 with non-original components but with the correct appearance.

Now someone try to say “Well, what changes?!!!”

A REAL Leopard 2 is such because it possesses certain indispensable original characteristics and components: hull, turret, gun, engine, armour, systems...

We remember the experience with the Pzh2000 (in the photo - redesigned system and not interchangeable with that of the other armies)? Ukrainians thank...

Do you also have any idea what happens when an Alliance deployed in a conflict can logistically rely on common components? He wins. Are the individual members self-sufficient? In addition to being taunted in the mud, they die! They won't be left behind to peel potatoes... they will fight kicking their asses with their (to use a metaphor) nice "5,88" or "7,88" calibers counting shots and praying that the guns don't jam! The others, even if they wanted to, will not be able to help them...

Does building under license allow us haughty rhetoric? Probably not, but it makes the industries that need to fill gap able to make steps forward to, one day, present itself on par with the best in the "healthy" world armaments market (at least the one without additional bribes intended for product shortages).

Between 2023 and 2025, 270 million euros are expected for new tanks out of a total of over 4 billion (!), by 2037 (after the war has been over for a decade...). So, in a few years, we will have – perhaps – modernized a tank company and a half?

WE REMEMBER that the real commitments of a minister and his government in the DPPs only concern a three-year period, the rest has always been "fluff": for this reason we always plan 1 (this year), 2 (the next), 4 (the next) and then 100.000 (for the following 14 years), they will be other people's budget problems. And in two years, the end of the AICS program has already been postponed... (oops!) by 2 years.

And the simple soldiers alongside the "Leopardotto"? The DPP forecasts 48 million for next year and, for 2025, 76 million. On a program (on paper) by 2037 (after the war has been over for a decade...) of over 5.230,6 million.

And here the blood freezes... Years late, the VCC-80 (“80”!) Dart it entered service in the Army only in 2002 ("80"!), in a single version and already operationally inadequate even for the first "simple peacekeeping missions".

The current figures on the table suggest the development of yet another autarkic vehicle and not the start of production.

The ambitions are high: “The program is aimed at renewing the entire combat capability of heavy forces, through the acquisition of a system of systems (family of platforms) for heavy infantry (Armored Infantry Combat System - AICS), centered on a family of platforms both combat (Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle – AIFV) and support (Command Post, anti-tank, scouts, mortar carriers, sappers, scouts, anti-aircraft, casualty carriers, ammunition carriers, driving school).”

The fear is that, as happened with the previous one Dart, we will one day introduce into service a vehicle, already available on the market today, and then call something late and now outdated "national excellence".

Why do I ask you?

THEnational interest it's a silly definition in a country that it is not (yet) a nation: everyone thinks for themselves and doesn't give a damn about the common good.

“Italian national interest” is an insult for defense companies which, among giants such as China and the USA, but also Russia and India, should reason, fight and challenge competitors such as “Europa” internationally.

Let's leave the fake copies to the Chinese. Their subjects or friends are already crying today, looking worried at the horizon.

Let's let our companies produce what they are good at, and if they aren't capable, they can learn from the best. We have taught others, such as Turkey, but we do not seem to have as much humility to learn. And they were Turkish! And today they are competitive in sectors that we have negligently snubbed.

If, after a century, the political dictates of the incapable part of the industry will prevail on armored vehicles? The highest price will be paid - once again - by our soldiers: their lives are evidently not part of thenational interest. However, those who, knowing, participated, supported or - worse - stood by and watched, this time will be held co-responsible, both by the veterans and by their families. To begin...

Photo: KNDS / web / ministry of defense