As Pravda.Ru has recently reported, Russia may soon launch the production of Italian Centauro tanks. Russian specialists already conduct the tests of two modifications of the machines equipped with 105- and 125-millimeter guns.
A spokesman for Oto Melara, the maker of Centauro tanks, told Russian news agencies that the tests of the tanks with 120- and 130-millimeter guns would follow afterwards. The results of the tests will be summed up at the end of 2012. In the end, Russian and Italian officials will make the decision about the establishment of the joint venture for the production of Centauro tanks.
Centauro is also known as a wheeled tank. Italian military engineers created the vehicle that combined the functions of a heavy armored vehicle and a basic heavy tank. However, the Italian machine is not going to play the role of the basic heavy tank in Russia. Originally, the front armor of the body stands the impact with 20-mm shells, whereas the side armor can resist 12,7-mm bullets.
The problem of the insufficient protection of the Italian tanks (a large-caliber machine gun can easily break through Centauro's armor) can be solved with the help of mounted armor, specialists said.
In any case, the Italian vehicle ought to be compared to Russian armored vehicles, rather than approached as a replacement to Russian tanks.
It is not clear though, which advantages Centauro vehicles have in comparison with Russia's armored vehicles BTR-90. It is worthy of note that Russia's Defense Ministry struck BTR-90 out from the acquisition program. The Russian vehicle can be equipped with 100- or 125-mm guns too even though the basic model is outfitted with the 30-mm gun.
The serial production of Centauro tanks continued from 1991 to 2006. Italy has thus made 484 vehicles in total. A part of them was delivered to Spain.
Igor Korotchenko, the editor-in-chief of National Defense Journal, has doubts about the prospects of the Italian tanks in Russia.
"Judging upon the statements from Russian officials that they have recently made, the country will pay first priority attention to Russian products. President Vladimir Putin has recently visited Uralvagonzavod and supported the domestic tank-building company. According to him, Russia was pinning great hopes on Armata - a new generation tank. The new Russian tank will debut in 2015, and the serial production is slated to be launched in 2017," the expert told Pravda.Ru.
"As for Western producers, there are many of them willing to enter the Russian market. However, I believe that as long as Putin has taken the president's office, Russia will stake on purchasing domestic military products," the expert said.
There is no precise information yet as to whether Russia may pass the Italian tanks into service. However, this has already happened to Lynx LMVs (light multirole armored vehicle) that were built on the base of Italian Iveco LMV M65.