Home » Italy’s Leonardo and Germany’s Rheinmetall forge new defence alliances

Italy’s Leonardo and Germany’s Rheinmetall forge new defence alliances

The primary objective of the 50:50 joint venture is to develop two vehicles: the Italian Main Battle Tank and the Lynx platform for the Italian Army, with a strong emphasis on international exports. Additionally, this initiative has the potential to transform the future of European tank

Defence giants unite. Leonardo and Rheinmetall have announced today a 50/50 joint venture to develop next-generation land defence systems. 

  • This partnership will focus on the Italian Army’s armoured vehicle programs, significantly enhancing Italy’s defence capabilities and benefiting the entire Italian supply chain. 
  • Shortly after the break between Leonardo and Knds [Group], Italy found an excellent new collaboration to establish a broad European scope, positioning both companies as leaders in the defence sector.

Tank program overhaul. The joint venture will be the lead system integrator and prime contractor for the Main Battle Tank and Armored Infantry Combat System programs. 

  • Leonardo will handle mission systems, electronic suites, and weapon system integration, with assembly, testing, and support activities in Italy. The agreement includes a 60% Italian share of these activities.
  • General Pietro Serino, former Chief of Staff of the Italian Army, commented on the potential of this new partnership in an article for AirPress, arguing, “The lack of an agreement with Knds could be the starting point for new opportunities, rather than a missed chance.”

Armoured fleet upgrades. The partnership also aims to modernise up to 125 Ariete tanks to the C2 standard and introduce the Panther Kf51, a cutting-edge tank developed by Rheinmetall and already in use by Budapest.

  • The JV will adopt the Kf41 Lynx for infantry vehicles, also considered by the U.S. for their XM30 Combat Vehicle program.
  • Both Roberto Cingolani, CEO of Leonardo, and Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger emphasised the significance of the collaboration.
  • “Technology and industrial synergies between Leonardo and Rheinmetall are a unique opportunity to develop state-of-the-art Main Battle Tanks and Infantry Vehicles. We consider this agreement a fundamental contribution to the creation of a European defence space,” said Cingolani.

New defence era? This collaboration shifts the dynamics for the European tank of the future. 

  • The Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) was one of the flagship projects of the 2017 Franco-German agreement, aimed at integrating a system of systems. Italy has shown interest in participating in this initiative, and both France and Germany have shown signs of seeking stronger collaboration with Italy.
  • Despite the delays and challenges the program has faced so far, the project continues, and Italy’s new partnership with Rheinmetall may offer a more robust path forward.

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