C-1 ARIETE, the time has come to decide the future

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Presented at the polyomono of Monteromano (along with other means) in the 1988, the ARIETE appeared perfectly in line with the quality standards of the then existing Western MBT, thus able to outclass, at least in performance, the armored Warsaw Pact.

However, the end of the Cold War and the long period of development have strongly delayed its entry into service (the departments began to arrive only in the 1998), in addition there was no provision - for the usual lack of funds - to start a update program able to put ARIETE in a position to face the threats of modern battlefields.

Initially, the acquisitions of the ARIETE were to be 300 units, in the 90 years, due to the cuts in the Defense budget, the number fell to 200. Thirty years after the official presentation the wagons still efficient are only a few tens, an unacceptable (and very expensive) condition for an industrialized country like Italy.

From the technical point of view the C-1 ARIETE is equipped with a diesel engine that develops little more than 1.200 Hp, so few to be able to armor the vehicle (in Iraq the ARIETE were equipped with an additional armor that carried the mass over the 60 t, however, they could perform very few movements, otherwise the engine was melted due to excessive weight).

There has been several times a re-authorization (a propeller has developed that delivers 1.600 Hp), but there is still nothing concrete. It would also require a new cannon (the 120 / 45 capable of firing the wide range of ammunition from Rheinmetall), an active defense device as well as new surveillance and targeting systems.

In recent weeks it would appear that the Ministry of Defense has begun to raise funds for a program to modernize vehicles in service.

An alternative solution would be to sell, to countries in need of a battle wagon, the ARIETS still efficient and perhaps yield high technology to the Israelis (as happened with the M-346 trainers) in exchange for a sufficient number of MERKAVA Mk IV (with relative logistic / training support) to equip the heavy brigade Ram.

Some might argue that the Israeli chariot, from the first version, was designed to be used in the particular Middle Eastern context. But it is precisely in that kind of context, rather than the North African one, that our tankers could be called to operate.

The MERKAVA Mk IV (pictured below) has a mass of 65.000 kg, propelled by a General Dynamics GD883 engine that develops 1.500 Hp, with a weight / power ratio of 23 Hp per ton. The wagon has a high firepower thanks to the Israeli-designed 120 mm MG253 cannon, capable of firing LAHAT anti-tank laser missiles with semi-automatic loading system and 10 ready-to-use shots. Protection is assured by a composite armor and, above all, by a Trophy active protection system by Rafael / Elta.

Whatever the decision about the future of the ARIETE, it is now undeniable that, with the decision to proceed with the development of a new MBT, we chose a wrong path, because such a complex and expensive program (given the low number of wagons from to acquire) would have gone too far in time, precisely because of the lack of adequate funds, eventually putting into service a wagon no longer suited to modern battlefields.

(photo: US Army / IDF)