The Centauro family of wheeled armoured fighting vehicles has been developed by Iveco Fiat Oto Melara Syndicated Company, based in Rome. Iveco Fiat is responsible for the vehicle and powerpack development, and Oto Melara developed the turrets and weapon systems.
Centauro entered production in 1991 and 400 Centauro reconnaissance anti-tank vehicles (tank destroyers) are in service with the Italian Army.
The Spanish Army has 22 Centauro vehicles in the armoured reconnaissance configuration, with additional reactive armour package on the frontal arc, and ordered a further 62 vehicles in February 2002. Deliveries were completed in 2006.
The Centauro family of 8×8 vehicles consists of the reconnaissance anti-tank vehicle, the VBC infantry fighting vehicle and the armoured personnel carrier, all with a common chassis. Centauro is capable of firing while stationary or on the move, against moving or stationary targets by day or night.
In August 2008, Oman placed an order for six Centauro vehicles which were delivered by mid-2009. The vehicles are the latest version with an upgraded chassis and have a 120mm gun instead of the 105mm gun. Oman ordered three more vehicles in November 2009.
Centauro self protection
The Centauro has an all-welded steel armour hull, which provides protection against 12.7mm ammunition and shell fragments. Enhanced armour protection over the frontal arc provides protection against 20mm ammunition.
A nuclear, chemical and biological (NBC) warfare protection system is integrated into the vehicles’ air conditioning system. A laser warning receiver can be installed on the vehicle.
The Iveco 6V turbo-charged, after-cooled diesel engine is rated at 382kW (1,865Nm). The automatic transmission system designed by ZF, and manufactured under license by Iveco Fiat, has five forward and two reverse gears. There are eight wheels each with independent suspension and disk type brakes. The steering is on the first, second and fourth axle. The tyres are 14.00-20, run-flat tyres fitted with central tyre inflation system (CTIS).
All variants of the vehicle provide top speeds in excess of 100km/h. The vehicles can negotiate gradients up to 60%, fording depth of 1.5m without preparation, and have a turning radius of 9m.
Centauro reconnaissance anti-tank vehicle
The Centauro reconnaissance anti-tank vehicle has a crew of four (commander, gunner, loader and driver) and is equipped with an Oto Melara 105mm / 52-calibre gun.
The low-recoil force rifled gun fires standard NATO ammunition, including APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) rounds.
The gun is equipped with a thermal sleeve, integrated fume extractor and muzzle reference system. 14 rounds of 105mm ammunition are carried in the turret and 26 rounds are stored in the hull. An alternative configuration, the 8×8 T, replaces these 26 rounds of ammunition with space for four combat troops. A version with a low-recoil 120mm smothbore gun is being developed.
Two 7.62mm machine guns are mounted on the turret, one co-axial with the main gun. A four-barrel smoke grenade launcher is mounted on each side of the turret.
The fire control system is the Galileo Avionica (formerly Officine Galileo) TURMS, also fitted on the Ariete main battle tank, which includes a digital ballistic computer. The gunner’s station is fitted with a stabilised sight with a thermal imager and laser rangefinder. The commander’s station is equipped with a panoramic stabilised sight, an image intensifying night sight and a monitor displaying the image from the gunner’s thermal sight.
Centauro 8×8 VBC infantry fighting vehicle
The Centauro 8×8 VBC infantry fighting vehicle carries a crew of three – commander, gunner and driver plus six to eight troops. The main gun is the Oerlikon KBA 25mm automatic cannon and carries 200 rounds of 25mm ammunition.
The vehicle can be armed with two launchers for TOW anti-tank guided weapons, eight 80mm smoke grenade launchers and two 7.62mm Nato machine guns. The fire control system is the same as for the reconnaissance / anti-tank version. Three prototypes of this version have been delivered to the Italian Army, which has a requirement for 240 vehicles.
In September 2006, it was announced that the Italian Army is to procure an initial 39 VBC vehicles. The vehicles will have the Oto Melara Hitfist 25 Plus turret with Galileo Avionica sights including the Lothar gunner’s thermal imaging sight and Janus commander’s stabilised panoramic sight.
Centauro armoured personnel carrier
The Centauro armoured personnel carrier carries a crew of three – commander, gunner and driver, plus eight troops. The main weapon is the Oerlikon KBA 25mm automatic cannon and a 7.62mm Nato machine gun is also fitted. Smoke grenade launchers are optional, and a choice of gunner’s / commander’s sights is available.