Letter to Online Defense: "Centaur in Ukraine? An opportunity to be evaluated"

19/10/22

Italy's dispatch of weapons to Ukraine remained shrouded in mystery, after the list of materials from the first delivery was immediately released on public TV and various newspapers. The affixing of the state secret by the government subsequently managed to stop leaking information about it.

If in Italy nothing more was known about the next four mailings, the last of which dates back to October, the foreign specialized press, on the other hand, apparently managed to pierce the secret. The French version of the magazine “Raids”, in fact, published in the number 432 of July 2022 a synthetic list, without numerical quantities, of armaments, already owned by the Italian Army, sold to the allied nation. These are: FH70 towed guns, 155 mm PZH-2000 and M109L self-propelled artillery vehicles, SIDAM anti-aircraft armored vehicles armed with 4 25 mm machine guns, M113 and VCC-1 troop transport vehicles, VM4 and LMV 4x90 vehicles, mortars, Stinger portable anti-aircraft missiles, 12,7 mm machine guns, MILAN-2 anti-tank missiles.

Apart from the doubts about the efficiency conditions of the M109Ls, withdrawn from service for a long time, and of the SIDAMs, which Italian sources report to have been largely scrapped and deprived of the Oerlikon machine guns recycled on the Dardo, we take this information from French sources as good. let us submit them to a critical analysis.

First of all, the Italian-built MG42 / 59 machine guns which were part of the first batch of weapons sent and which were also photographed in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers are missing from the list. With regard to combat vehicles, these are vehicles that have been banned from service or still in line in Italy for several years now. This is not surprising as other NATO states have sold even older vehicles such as those of the British Scimitar family of crawlers or the extensively modernized T55 tanks supplied by Slovenia.

Various images of LMV Lince armored vehicles in Ukrainian hands have appeared on the web, which are also used by the Russian counterpart. Indirect confirmation of the supply of PZH would have come from the news that became public knowledge of the arrest of the Italian traffic police of an exceptional transport directed to northern Europe.

In this context of large and diversified supplies, the opportunity to export even a small batch of heavy Centauro busses could be evaluated, in order to be able to evaluate them in the context of a high-intensity conflict. The Centaur was undoubtedly a successful vehicle, exported to Spain, Oman and Jordan, valued by the US and Russian armies, which in Italy was highly appreciated by the cavalry units, both in training activities and in peace support operations.

Centauro have been engaged in limited combat actions in Somalia and Iraq. However, some doubts remain, which are reflected in the updated Centauro 2 version, on its real effectiveness in challenging war scenarios against enemies well equipped with anti-tank weapons, due to its light armor.

More generally, it is the imbalance between the elements making up its tactical formula, which favors mobility and firepower, to the detriment of protection, that generates doubts. Even from the point of view of tactical use there are uncertainties, as currents of thought see the Centaur more useful as a tank destroyer and fire support vehicle for the direct favor of the infantry, than as a reconnaissance vehicle.

On the basis of these considerations, some consider the Centaur better framed in a single-vehicle regiment intended to support 2/3 regiments of mechanized infantry on 8x8 Freccia, constituting the maneuver pawn of a medium brigade. The current multi-vehicle organic formation of the cavalry regiments, in fact, has been undermined by the recent widespread diffusion at all organic levels of observation and target acquisition drones and circulating ammunition, which appear to be more suitable for reconnaissance and of close exploration with respect to the Centaurus-Puma / Lynx binomial.

Therefore, one could take advantage of the opportunity provided by the war in Ukraine to test the vehicle in combat, in order to dispel any doubts about the effectiveness of the heavy busway formula and clarify once and for all its most suitable criteria for use and of organic articulation within the cavalry units.

FC

  

Dear - loyal - reader, thank you for yet another starting point for debate and reflection. The pathetic affixing of the state secret was probably motivated by "modesty" and not so much by the vaunted "classification" of the armaments sent. We don't have any decent ones for us, let alone for the others ...

Regarding the Pzh2000, a note from the Ministry of Defense of 29 June made it clear that as regards the news reported in Il Mattino Naples edition "Stop three tanks headed to Ukraine" it is specified that the transported vehicles, Pzh2000, were headed to Germany for an exercise.

The question Centaur it would be interesting but it would take a tremendous cynicism because the "busway" Centaur (as we have already written) does not withstand Russian armor-piercing bullets already from 14,5 mm caliber.

La Centaur 2 (with a considerable amount of problems that will soon be disclosed ...), although not a simple "upgrade" but a real redesign of the vehicle, it will have a slightly higher survival capacity and in any case "nothing" in the event of an attack with heavy artillery, ATGM, drones, armor-piercing ammunition, loitering ammunition, etc.

Of course, a dispatch would finally shut the mouths of certain (interested) supporters of "rotated tanks" who pretend to be experts but who have never worn a uniform (that of boy scouts or delle ladybugs not valid!) and inside those means they would never risk their skin in case of "real operation".

But then at what price? Would a massacre of Ukrainians be acceptable in order to confirm what is already evident?

Andrea Cucco

Photo: Unifil

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