Rumors are swirling around the involvement of Italian group Leonardo in the new generation Leopard 2 tank project. This comes amid the Italian Defense Ministry's potential acquisition of 133 Leopard 2A8 tanks from Germany to meet NATO commitments.
The multi-year programmatic document for 2023-25, presented by the Italian government, didn't specify the Leopard 2A8, but referred to the acquisition of the latest generation Leopard 2 tank. The total projected budget for this initiative reaches up to 8.246 billion euros by 2037. The uncertainty surrounding the precise model of the tank in question has stirred up speculations. Some believe that Italy could be referring to the Leopard 2A8, while others suggest that German manufacturers are contemplating the development of a Leopard 2AX.
This project isn't merely about procurement. It's also paving the way for a potential partnership on the future European battle tank's development, akin to the Franco-German MGCS project. Coincidentally, Leonardo's CEO, Roberto Cingolani, expressed his interest in participating in the German Leopard 2 tank program of the new generation on November 9.
Big Plans for AICS Program
Meanwhile, a significant chunk of 15 billion euros is projected to be allocated to the AICS program from 2024 to 2037. The program's objective is to establish a family of vehicles with varying functionalities, ranging from a heavy reconnaissance variant equipped with a 120mm gun to an anti-drone variant.
European Commission's Call for Proposals
Rumors are also circulating about Leonardo's potential participation in the European Commission's call for proposals for the FMBT program. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall, Saab, and Indra are also expected to get involved. The FMBT program, with a funding pool of 30 million euros, aims to conduct studies for a new European main battle tank.
This initiative had initially caused a stir in August, as it was believed to potentially undermine the MGCS. But it was soon clarified by the German Defense Minister that it did not bind Berlin to any commitment, and the decision solely depended on the German industrialists.