The medium forces of the Italian Army ... And the heavy forces?

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Despite Covid, the training activity of the Italian Army continues. The 7th Bersaglieri regiment of the medium brigade Pinerolo, flagship unit of the Army as regards the development of net-centric capabilities, part of the SICCONA program (Command, Control and Navigation System) which plans to equip the combat vehicles of the Italian Army with a command system, control, navigation and communication capable of providing the on-board personnel in real time with all the tactical and logistical information (cartography, messaging, database, secure data and voice communications) useful for carrying out the mission, starting the process of digitizing the maneuvering space and contributing to the realization of "information dominance".

In recent days, the 7th from Altamura (Bari) - which is part of the JRRF basin (Joint Rapid Response Force) has completed a training cycle aimed at maintaining full operational capacity.

The exercise saw the vehicles of the 7th operate in a context warfighting, through the LIVEX / FIREX activity of a minor complex level (platoon) and use all the weapon systems supplied to the regiment, such as the ARROW 8x8 in the configuration combat, mortar holder with 120 mm ribbed piece and counter-tank with SPIKE LR missiles.

In recent years, the Italian Army has paid particular attention to the development of wheeled vehicles, very suitable in low / medium intensity contexts.

However, some doubts remain regarding the acquisition of CENTAURO II. In the DPP (Multiannual Planning Document) for the two-year period 2020-2022, the Defense allocated 221,4 million euros for the purchase of the new heavy busway, against a total allocation for 150 vehicles of about 2 billion euros.

Perhaps it would have been possible to upgrade the CENTAURO I (configuring them in the version sold to Oman, perhaps adding an active protection system), thus allowing more funds to be allocated for the heavy component, now abandoned for years.

Lately the Armed Force has expressed the need to have a third Large Unit in Heavy configuration (perhaps the Brigade Sassari). In our opinion, this operation would be extremely expensive and very difficult to carry out.

The update of three examples of the ARIETE wagon will be completed next year (out of a total requirement of 125 wagons), at a cost of 13,7 million euros spread over two years

The total expenditure for updating the ARIETE will cost 347 million euros (program that should end in 2027), with an expense per wagon just under 2,8 million euros.

As regards the IFV DARDO, there are no appropriations, waiting to be able to develop a new vehicle starting from 2030 with other European partners.

Instead of three Large Heavy Units, only one could be deployed, the Aries, reinforced with the addition of another Bersaglieri regiment (perhaps the 1st) taken from Garibaldi, with two tank regiments equipped with the updated ARIETE (82 tanks more stocks). This would make it possible to reduce the overall expenditure of the upgrade program by approximately € 100 million.

As far as the 4th Garibaldi tank regiment is concerned, it could be placed in a square position (as happened in turn for the 1st armored regiment), waiting for the new MBT that will replace the ARIETE.

In conclusion, by removing the CENTAURO II and limiting the ARIES update program, resources would be freed up that could be used - even in a context joint - to finance strategic programs aimed at acquiring skills deepfire, currently not owned by the Italian Army.