ROME — Italy has made its first acquisition of an amphibious vehicle type which was developed by Italy’s Iveco and has inspired the new Amphibious Combat Vehicles now being put into service by the U.S. Marines.
Iveco Defense Vehicles said it had signed with the Italian military to supply 36 Amphibious Armoured Vehicles (VBA) to the Italian Navy, marking the start of an order which is expected to total 64 vehicles for the Italian navy, 64 for the army and 18 for the army engineering corp.
Italy first issued a requirement for a new amphibious vehicle before 2010, leading to home player Iveco developing its SUPERAV 8X8, but procurement has been slow.
In the meantime, the vehicle became the basis for the US Marines’ new vehicle for which Iveco retained design authority while BAE Systems took on the role of prime contractor with a US contract signed in 2018.
First deliveries to the Marines took place in late 2020, with the vehicle replacing the Vietnam War-era Amphibious Assault Vehicle, or AAV.
In 2021, ahead of launching its own acquisition campaign, Italy announced that a new amphibious vehicle was one of seven ‘Flagship’ programs which would have a guaranteed funding stream.
Other programs included cloud-computing capability for the armed forces, the upgrading of Italy’s air defense and missile capability, new radar for the PAAMS air defense system, new Navy destroyers and a new army armored fighting vehicle.
In last year’s budget, Italy said it would provide €323 million ($347 million) in funding for acquisition of the first vehicles between 2022 and 2024.
The initial 36 vehicles, which will equip the navy’s San Marco Brigade will feature a 700HP FPT Cursor 16 engine with an automatic 7-speed gearbox and a maximum on-road speed of 105 km/h.
Iveco said the two rear-mounted propellers achieve a top speed of 6 knots.
Unlike the U.S. vehicles, which feature a Kongsberg 30mm turret, the Italian vehicles will be equipped with the Leonardo Hitrole Light remote turret with a 12.7mm caliber weapon.
While the US vehicles carry 3 crew and 13 passengers, the Italian vehicles will carry 3 crew and 10 passengers.
Apart from being design authority for the U.S. vehicles, Iveco also manufactures components for the them, including the engine, driveline, suspension, gearbox, seats and anti-mine suite.
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.