Italy is in advanced negotiations with Germany for the procurement of an undisclosed number of Leopard 2A8 main battle tanks (MBTs), according to the Italian Defense magazine Rivista Italiana Difesa. The deal is expected to be worth between 4 and 6 billion euros.
The Leopard 2A8 is a new version of the Leopard 2 tank, which is being developed by KNDS, a joint venture between the German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Nexter Systems from France. The Leopard 2A8 will feature improved armour, firepower, mobility and protection systems, as well as a new digital architecture and a hybrid electric drive.
The Italian army plans to purchase at least 125 new tanks to partially replace the C.1 Ariete tanks currently in use. The C.1 Ariete is a domestic tank developed by a consortium of Iveco-Fiat and Oto Melara in the 1980s. It has a 120 mm smoothbore gun and a fire-control system that allows for day and night combat. However, it is considered outdated and inferior to modern MBTs.
The acquisition of the Leopard 2A8 tanks will enhance the Italian army’s capabilities and interoperability with other NATO allies. The deal is likely to be structured as a “government to government” agreement, which means that some level of compensation from the Italian side is expected. This could include Italy’s procurement of AW-249 attack helicopters or a preference for the Franco-Italian SAMP/T air defence system over the American Patriot system.
Italy is not the only NATO member state interested in the Leopard 2A8 tank. Czechia has also expressed its intention to join the purchase of 70 Leopard 2A8 tanks jointly with Germany. Other potential buyers include the Netherlands and Lithuania.