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Analysis: Centauro II Leonardo-Iveco new generation of 120mm 8x8 fire support armored vehicle

The Centauro II is a modernized version of the Centauro 1 8x8 anti-tank wheeled armored vehicle that was presented for the first time in June 2016 during the Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris, France. The previous version of the Centauro was the first 8x8 wheeled anti-tank vehicle in the world with a high-pressure gun. The Centauro is jointly manufactured by the Italian Defense companies Leonardo and IVECO Defence Vehicles.
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The Centauro II with its 120mm gun has the firepower of the latest generation of main battle tanks. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The Centauro II is a new generation of fire support vehicle based on wheeled armored vehicle chassis armed with a third-generation 120/45 mm gun, with integrated muzzle brake and semi-automatic loading system. The weapon system provides a firepower equivalent to all most modern main battle tanks and is capable to fire the latest generation of 120 mm NATO ammunition including APFSDS (Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) and Multi-Purpose MP ammunition.

The Centauro II has a crew of four including a driver, commander, gunner, and loader. The vehicle is based on a V-shaped armored monocoque hull with a turret-mounted at the rear of the hull. Both are of all-welded steel armor construction and integrate add-on armor and technical solutions offering STANAG 4569 level of protection against direct fire, anti-tank mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and the latest-generation of kinetic ammunition.

The main armament of the Centauro II consists of one 120 mm/45 caliber gun fitted with a semi-automatic loading system with 12 ready-to-fire ammunition. Another batch of 19 ammunition is stored in the hull, in a compartment separated from the crew equipped with a fire-suppression system. The 120mm gun is an evolution of the Ariete MBT (Main Battle Tank) 44 caliber 120mm gun using a pepperpot muzzle break and other features that reduce the recoil force from 45 tones in the Ariete to 25 tones in the Centauro II. The second armament includes one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and d a Hitrole L remote weapon station that can be armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher.

The Centauro II has an 8x8 driveline offering a high level of mobility in all-terrain conditions. The vehicle is powered by an IVECO Vector 8V Euro III 720 hp engine, coupled to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It can run at a maximum road speed of 105 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 800 km.

The Centauro II can negotiate a gradient of 60%, side slopes of 30%, and a fording depth of 1.5 m without preparation. It has an angle of approach and departure of 40° and can cross natural or man-made obstacles up to 0.6 m high, and trenches 2 m wide.

Centauro II Leonardo Iveco new generation of 120mm 8x8 fire support vehicle Analysis 925 002
The Centauro II is armed with a new 120 mm/45 caliber gun fitted with a semi-automatic loading system; (Picture source Army Recognition)

The Centauro II is equipped with the latest generation of optics and combat systems including SICCONIA C2 system, the Attila panoramic commander’s sight, a man-machine interface (MMI), and a situational awareness system. The driver is equipped with a day/night vision system while the gunner as a Lothar sight, a modular, high performance, compact day and night sight designed for use with large-caliber guns (from 23-30mm to 120-125mm). The aiming sight can be mechanically linked to the line of fire (typically lighter and lower cost turrets), or stabilized for installations within higher performance turrets. In these instances, stabilization is provided by a high-performance gyroscopic gimbal and allows the gunner to operate with the same high performance regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or stationary. The sight provides the gunner and the FCS (Firing Control System) with all the information necessary for effective fire control, including target position, speed, and range.

The commander has the new 360° Attila sight, a high-performance panoramic periscope and commander sight for land platforms, integrating daylight, thermal IR, and laser range finder channels. It is designed to provide tanks and combat vehicles with day and night observation and target acquisition capabilities. The system features a two-axis primary stabilization which allows for operation from moving platforms with no reduction in performance. The latest version of the system incorporates a 3rd generation MWIR Thermal Imager and an HD zoom camera.

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