In an effort to form closer ties in the production of Europe’s land vehicles, Leonardo and KNDS – two of the continent’s leading defence primes – signed an agreement to jointly implement a main battle tank (MBT) procurement programme based on the Leopard 2A8 model.

Both manufacturers will manufacture and maintain this future MBT solution for the Italian Army, according to a 13 December press release.

This vision complies with the Italian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) requirements for its future MBT solution, outlined the Documento Programmatico Difesa, 2023-2025.

It asks that the solution “must create conditions advantageous for the expansion of the partnership to the development programme of the future European MBT… respecting the concept and principles being developed within the framework of the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System project (MGCS).”

MGCS is a project launched in 2017 to replace France and Germany’s current Leopard 2 and Leclerc fleets. In Italy’s case, the MBT solution will replace its 20-year-old Leopard 1 and C1 Ariete MBTs.

GlobalData intelligence estimates Italy’s contract allocation to value nearly $1.2bn (€1bn) over the next decade.

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By GlobalData

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann developed the Leopard 2 MBT. The successor to the Leopard 1, the Leopard 2, was first produced in 1979 and is in service with the armies of Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Turkey, with more than 3,200 tanks produced.

The 2A8 version is the latest configuration, based on the 2A7+.

The Leopard 2 uses a Rheinmetall 120mm/L55 smoothbore gun. It is compatible with all standard Nato 120mm tank ammunition. It can also use DM11 programmable high-explosive rounds. These programmable multi-purpose munitions enable operators to engage with targets behind cover and within buildings.

Furthermore, the alliance aims to create further production and development capabilities in Italy and to use these for future European and export projects. GlobalData tells us that land vehicles are Italy’s third-largest sector, worth $2.5bn. Main battle tanks are the second-largest segment at $309m, followed by armoured multi-role vehicles at $166m.