Are we moving towards abandoning the 132 Leopard 2A8IT for the Italian Army?

At the beginning of summer 2023, Rome announced the next order for 132 heavy tanks Leopard 2A8IT, including 130 in combat version, to replace part of its fleet of locally designed C1 Ariete tanks.

These tanks were intended to operate alongside 120 modernized C1 Ariete, supported by 140 armored support vehicles, platforms Leopard 2 available in different versions for engineering forces, and others.

At the same time, Rome announced the launch of the A2CS (Army Armored Combat System) program, involving a thousand infantry combat vehicles, with €15 billion for 1000 armored vehicles, for which the KNDS Puma and the KF41 Lynx, from Rheinmetall, were expected to be favorites.

At the same time, Italy had indicated its intention to join, as a third member, the Franco-German MGCS tank of the future program. In this context, the industrial partnership between KNDS and Leonardo, launched in 2023, seemed to seal this tripartite alliance. However, this is now far from being the case.

KNDS and Leonardo are unable to agree on industrial sharing around Leopard 2A8IT Italian.

The first and most urgent file on which KNDS and Leonardo had to move forward and reach an agreement, was the configuration and industrial sharing of the 132 Leopard Italian 2A8, paving the way for contracts and cooperation to follow.

Puma KMW KNDS Germany Bundeswehr
The Puma of the German KNDS also participates in the A2SC program.

The Leopard Italian 2A8ITs, like the 140 support armored vehicles on the same platform, must, in fact, replace, from 2027, the armored vehicles currently in service within the Italian armies. We therefore had to move quickly, and this was the objective of the working group bringing together the two manufacturers for several months.

Still, certain clues could suggest that the discussions were not going as expected. First, the opening of the A2SC program to other competitors, the American-Spanish ASCOD, the Swedish CV90 and especially the South Korean AS21 Redback, indicated that for Rome, the industrial objective supplanted the purely convergence objectives. industrial, in particular around the MGCS program.

On the other hand, while Berlin had announced the invitation to Italy to participate in the MGCS, the agreement to reorganize the program, and on the resulting industrial sharing, announced a few weeks ago, only concerned the German companies, KNDS Germany (formerly Krauss-Maffeï Wegmann) and Rheinmetall, and the French companies, KNDS France (formerly Nexter) and Thales.

It is in this context that Leonardo, on the one hand, and KNDS Germany, on the other, jointly announced, at the beginning of the week, the failure of negotiations regarding cooperation between the two companies, about the tank program Leopard 2A8.

Too many specifics requested by Leonardo concerning the Leopard 2A8IT, according to KNDS

According to the spokesperson for the Italian company, who are " Leonardo announces, despite the efforts undertaken, the interruption of negotiations with KNDS to define a common configuration for the main battle tank program of the Italian army and to develop broader cooperation“. And added that the Italian arms giant remained fully committed to supplying the Italian armies, turning to other partners.

Leopard 2A7HU
Le Leopard 2A8 is an evolution of Leopard 2A7HU Hungarian.

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  1. Hello,
    1 small typo slipped into your article:
    you say KF-31 redback when they are the AS-21 redback, the KF-31 or 41 corresponding to the VCI Lynx from Rheinmetal…
    For yourself

  2. Hello,
    My question is this, which ties in with an article that you published a few months ago: all the reflections carried out and published on the subject of the armored army identify two "victims": France which "forgot" to modernize the Leclerc and clearly no longer knows how to manage the process of evolution and modernization of armored weapons and Rheinmetall which produced a clearly "interesting" tank while forgetting "in the French way" to first ensure a solvent market, counts given the pre-eminence of KMW

    Couldn't these two "unfortunate people" come together to "save the furniture", France reconstituting a modern armored force with a Panther produced on national soil and integrating French elements such as escalope and Rheinmetall making its R&D investments profitable and able to export from France to third-party customers?

    This would make it possible to confront geopolitical reality and to reflect without the pressure of urgency on the KNDS system of systems which, given the success of Leopard in different versions will be postponed from year to year until the next century...or not far?


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