B1 Centauro

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For the armoured division see 131 Armoured Division Centauro.
Centauro
Centauro01.JPEG
B1 Centauro with IFOR Markings.
Type Wheeled Tank Destroyer
Place of origin  Italy
Specifications
Weight 24,000 kg
Length 7.85 m (25 ft 9 in)
Width 2.94 m (9 ft 8 in)
Height 2.73 m (8 ft 11 in)
Crew 4 (commander, gunner, loader and driver)

Armor Welded steel armoured hull
Main
armament
105 mm gun
Secondary
armament
2x7.62 mm MGs
Engine IVECO Diesel
520 hp
Power/weight 19.35 hp/tonne
Suspension Wheel 8 x 8
Operational
range
800 km (500 mi)
Speed 108 km/h (67 mph)

The Centauro is a wheeled tank destroyer designed for light to medium territorial defense and tactical reconnaissance. It was developed by a consortium of manufacturers, the Società Consortile Iveco Fiat - Oto Melara (CIO). Iveco Fiat was tasked with developing the hull and propulsion systems while Oto Melara was responsible for developing the turrets and weapon systems.

Description[edit]

The vehicle was developed in response to an Italian Army requirement for a tank destroyer with the firepower of the old Leopard 1 main battle tank then in service with the Italian Army but with greater strategic mobility. The main mission of the Centauro is to protect other lighter elements of the cavalry, using its good power-to-weight ratio, excellent range and cross country ability (despite the wheeled design) and computerized fire control system to accomplish this mission. Centauro entered production in 1991 and deliveries were complete by 2006.

Armament[edit]

The main armament consists of the Oto Melara 105 mm / 52 caliber gyro-stabilized high-pressure, low-recoil gun equipped with a thermal sleeve and an integrated fume extractor, with 14 ready rounds in the turret and another 26 rounds in the hull. The gun can fire standard NATO ammunition, including APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) rounds.

Secondary weapons are a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and another 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun with 4,000 rounds of ammunition.

Aiming is provided by Galileo Avionica TURMS fire control system (the same fitted to the Italian Ariete tank) and is equipped with a muzzle referencing system and a fully digital ballistic computer. The gunner sight is fully stabilized and comes equipped with a thermal imager and laser rangefinder. The commander's station is equipped with a panoramic stabilized sight, an image intensifying night sight and a monitor displaying the image from the gunner's thermal sight. This allows Centauro to engage stationary or moving targets while stationary or on the move, in day or night.

A Centauro in Iraq

Armour[edit]

The Centauro hull is an all-welded steel armoured hull which is designed to withstand in the baseline configuration 14.5 mm bullets and shell fragments with protection against 25 mm munition on the frontal section. Protection can be increased by the addition of bolt on appliqué armour which increases protection against 30 mm rounds.

The Centauro is also equipped with an NBC (Nuclear, Chemical and Biological) warfare protection system which is integrated with the vehicle's air conditioning system. The vehicle is also equipped with a four-barreled smoke grenade launcher mounted on each side of the turret and a laser warning receiver.

Propulsion[edit]

Centauro is powered by an Iveco V6 turbo-charged after-cooled diesel engine delivering 520 hp (382.4 kW). This drives a ZF-designed automatic transmission which is manufactured under license by Iveco Fiat. The transmission system has five forward and two reverse gears. This drives 8 wheels which are each equipped with an independent suspension system and is furthermore equipped with run-flat inserts and a Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS). Braking is provided by 8 disc brakes. Steering is provided on the first and second axles and at slow speed with also the fourth axle. Together, this allows Centauro to achieve road speeds in excess of 100 km/h, negotiate gradients up to 60%, ford water up to a depth of 1.5m without preparation, and have a turning radius of 9m.

Combat history[edit]

Centauro was deployed in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, where the design proved successful. Centauro was usually employed to escort motor convoys, for wide area control and for road patrols. Centauros were also deployed during operation Antica Babilonia, the Italian involvement in the Iraq War. During this operation, a Centauro troop took part in the battle for the bridges of Nassiriya, destroying a building where snipers were hiding.[1] It is currently deployed as part of UNIFIL forces in Lebanon.

Variants[edit]

  • Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank Variant:
The baseline variant.
Freccia in Rome
  • Centauro 120 mm
A Centauro with a low recoil 120/45 cannon, in newly designed turret and with new composite armour that can resist up to 40mm APFSDS rounds on the front.
  • Freccia a wheeled infantry fighting vehicle

Italian army ordered a prototype of the 120 mm variant, with improved armour. The first trials are expected in 2012.

An early prototype, armed with a 155x39 gun, was seen at the national Italian holiday of 2 June (2011).

A known AAA and c-ram prototype version, called "Draco", is armed with a 76 mm automatic cannon, and with Strales directional ammunition system.

A 125 mm gun-armed version is being tested by the Russian army, alongside the standard 105 mm-armed version.[2]

Operators[edit]

Italy Italian Army
  • 400 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank Variant (around 100 vehicles from the first batches retired)
  • 249 VBM Freccia (172 standard, 36 combat anti-tank, 20 command center and 21 mortar carrier on order)
  • 4 VBM Freccia Ambulance Variant
Spain Spanish Army
  • 84 Centauro Reconnaissance Anti-Tank Variant
  • 4 VBM Freccia Recovery Variant
Oman Royal Army of Oman
  • 6+3 Centauro 120 mm Variant (option for further 24)
United States US Army
  • Leased 16 Centauro between 2000 and 2002 for evaluation, and to gain experience for the introduction of the Stryker Mobile Gun System.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Iraq: Italian Lessons Learned"
  2. ^ "Russia Testing Italian Tank". en.rian.ru. RIA Novosti. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Centauro B1". Military Today.com. Retrieved 2011-01-21. 

External links[edit]