General history of C1 Ariete
The story of the C1 Ariete began during the late stages of the cold war, with a program born out of the need of the Italian army to modernize the fleet of tanks they had during that time period, which were at the time the Leopard and M60 MBT’s. Those tanks would be considered obsolete, considering the fact that many countries around the world who adopted such designs had either put them out of service or replaced them for something more modern. To make the new Italian MBT, Italy put Iveco and OTO Melara in charge. Iveco dealt with the hull, transmission, and engine, while OTO Melara took care of the turret, cannon, and the installation of optical sights. After many changes, and a couple of wooden mock-ups, the C1 Ariete (P), would first be shown to the public, at a presentation inside of La Spezia in 1987. Development kept on continuing towards the year of 1990, which allowed both Iveco and OTO Melara to refine the C1 Ariete’s design. Deliveries were scheduled to first take place in 1993, however due to some setbacks (likely funding) it wouldn’t be until 1995 that the first C1 Ariete production deliveries actually took place. At first an order of 300 tanks would be made, but due to the Cold War coming to an end, it was reduced to only 200 units, which would all finally be delivered on 7th August 2002. The tank would feature a set of improvements from previous designs, for example the first C1 Ariete production models had access to the TURMS 3rd generation LTFCS made by Officine Galileo, which gave the capability to the Ariete to fire on the move, both during the day and at night. However later down the line, the last 50 Arietes would receive an upgrade of their sights, which resulted in many improvements, such as allowing the C1 Ariete commanders to have access to thermal imaging. In terms of armaments, the C1 Ariete (P) and C1 Ariete Production had access to a 120 mm smoothbore gun, made by OTO Melara, with similarities to the German made L44. The cannon would be suited to fire the majority of NATO standard munitions. Another improvement included better protection compared to the previous vehicles, it would be one of the more vital aspects of the Ariete. The tank would be deliviered up until the early 2000’s where the Ariete would begin to be the only official tank in service, while the Leopards and M60’s would be fully phased out and put in storage. Since then however the Ariete has had quite the bumpy ride when it came down to upgrading the machine, the Italian army was not against upgrading it however there was a common issue that would plauge the development, costs. The first proposed upgrade for the C1 Ariete would be what is known as the ‘‘C2 Ariete’’. After the tank had finished to be deliviered, many nations at the time already had better vehicles in service, for example Germany would already have the Leopard 2a5. The C2 Ariete would feature a lot of improvements, which included new updated armor, an autoloader, new engine and also new updated FCS. However this never ended up happening and as such the C2 Ariete would remain only a proposal on paper. Fast forward a couple years and you’ll see another potential upgrade for the C1 Ariete, the C1 Ariete Hitfact mk2, this was likely not even considered by the Italian army but it would still feature a set of advancements that technically speaking would make it still a better machine than the production vehicles, such as the new cannon and optics.
C1 Ariete AMV
Now here we are with what is likely going to be the final upgrade to the Ariete, the C1 Ariete AMV, standing for “Ammodernamento di Mezza Vita” (English: “Mid Life Update”). This upgrade was conceptualised many years ago but its only in recent times that we’ve actually seen progress with such a program. The AMV program will attempt to extend the life of the C1 Ariete up until 2030/2035, where by then it is presumed that a new design will take over. The AMV program initially had a plan which featured 3 prototypes at first, PT1 with hull improvements, PT2 with hull and turret improvements and PT3 which for now is the same as PT2, but in future it is said that it will likely be used to test hard kill APS in anticipation of the production C2 Ariete.
The improvements in the PT1 are as follows; increase in power from 1250 to 1500 horsepower, sadly this was not obtained with the installation of a new engine, but instead with the application of an upgrade kit on the current engines that the C1 Ariete utilize, which were completely disassembled and rebuilt with the constitution of numerous new elements, most of which derive from the V8 of the B2 Centauro II. One of the other ways its better protected is thanks to the installation of the Anti-IED/Mine kit. The crankcase is also the same, but the displacement has been increased from 26 to 30 liters, by changing cylinders, pistons and crankshaft, increasing the stroke of the cylinders. In order to better receive and manage the greater power offered by the improved engine, called V12AMV for now, changes would also be made on the automatic gearbox produced under license from the German ZF, this provided the necessary calculations for the changes necessary to receive the greatest torque and its distribution. Among that, the PT1 will feature improvements to the breaking system, the adoption of a new track (It being the DST 570 P0, the current Arietes use the DST 840 E0) which is 20% wider than the previous one, it allows the tank to have a smaller footprint and makes it much easier to overcome soft soils. Suspensions and shock absorbers have not been replaced, but only overhauled.
In terms of to the PT2 improvements it involved the complete replacement of the electro-hydraulic interlocking system present on the previous generation of tanks, it has been instead replaced with a new fully electric interlocking system built on the basis of the experience gained with the Centauro II armoured vehicle. This will not only just increase performance, ensuring greater acceleration in rotation, but above all this will increase the level of safety for the crew, who will no longer have to operate near elements of pressurized oil. A major improvement will also be in regard to the commander’s and gunners optical sights. As mentioned OTO Melara is using things already used on the Centauro II, in this case the commander will utilise the ATTILA-D third generation multispectral optronic system whilst the gunners will instead the LOTHAR modular and compact sight, also in use with the VBM Freccia IFV. These will both give the C1 Ariete the modernisation it truly needed to keep up with the rest of the main NATO MBTs. The PT2 is also equipped with a Leonardo RALM 02/V2 laser warning system, and will install new smoke launchers from Germany called Rheinmetall Rosy. It will also recieve a new ballistic computer more in line with current operational needs, this will be the same one present on the Centauro II. With this new addition it would also allow the C1 Ariete to fire modern programmable munitions. In regards to communication systems, the AMV program will allow for the installation of the Harrys AN / PRC-152 satellite system which give the crew the ability to communicate with friendly units pretty much everywhere, something that the VHF SINCGARS isn’t able to do. Interestingly the PT2 also has the new tracks installed on the PT1 prototype. When it comes to armor the AMV program will allow the C1 Ariete to utilise both the PSO and WAR kit together, although an older variant of the armoyr was already previously tested on a regular C1 Ariete, the results weren’t satisfactory due to the strain it would put on the engine and transmission. But with these improvements all AMV prototypes have access to the new WAR+PSO stock. One of the other ways its better protected is thanks to the installation of the Anti-IED/Mine kit. With all these changes not only will they improve overall logistics, but they will end up making the Ariete much more in line with other NATO tanks. Interestingly enough the PT2 also recieved everything else that the PT1 did, this includes an increase in power from 1250 to 1500 horsepower, this was not obtained with the installation of a new engine, but instead with the application of an upgrade kit on the current engines that the C1 Ariete utilize, which were completely disassembled and rebuilt with the constitution of numerous new elements, most of which derive from the V8 of the B2 Centauro II. The crankcase is also the same, but the displacement has been increased from 26 to 30 liters, by changing cylinders, pistons and crankshaft, increasing the stroke of the cylinders. In order to better receive and manage the greater power offered by the improved engine, called V12AMV for now, changes would also be made on the automatic gearbox produced under license from the German ZF, this provided the necessary calculations for the changes necessary to receive the greatest torque and its distribution. There has also been improvements to the breaking system, the adoption of a new track (the DST 570 P0, the current Arietes use the DST 840 E0) which is 20% wider than the previous tracks, it allows the tank to have a smaller footprint and makes it much easier for it to overcome soft soils. Suspensions and shock absorbers have not been replaced, but only overhauled. There are also rumors that the final AMV iteration will be getting a new cannon taken from the Centauro II, the Italian army are looking for ways to further upgrade the tank, so for example they’ve also been studying the implemintation of some hard kill APS systems and the introduction of the hitrole RWS.
This section will be updated once more info comes out, but for now the PT3 is just another PT2, it is said that in the near future it will be used as a platform to test out hard kill APS and other improvements to the AMV such as the installation of an RWS and additional protection on the back of the tank.