In the early eighties, due to the obsolescence of part of the first line combat vehicles and a somehow modified strategic situation, the Italian Army felt it necessary to field an high mobility, well armed armoured vehicle.
Thus in 1984 requirement of a wheeled TDG (Tank destroyer gun) fitted up with a 105mm gun was issued.
In 1987 the first prototype of a powerful 25t 8x8 armoured vehicle (“Centauro” B1) was delivered and in 1990 series production started.
Some 400 have been produced for the Italian Army and 84 for the Spanish Army. 16 “Centauro” are being evaluated by the U.S. army at Fort Lewis (Washington) to establish employment tactics and combat material requirements for the future “mobile gun system”.
Powered by an Iveco Fiat MTCA V-6 turbocharged diesel engine with 382 kw (520HP) placed in the hull front, it has a max speed of 100 km/h and a road range of 800 km.
Main armament is an Oto Melara designed 105mm gun with long recoil and 52 calibre length; one coaxial and a 7,62mm ADGM are also available. The “Centauro”, thanks to its Galileo Turms Fire Control system, can fire in motion and in allweather conditions.
The run-flat tyres are provided with a central tyre pressure regulation system, which allows adaptation of the tyre prints to the terrain characteristics thus enhancing mobility. The “Centauro” is normally employed by the Italian Army in all major international missions (Somaliland, Balkans, Iraq).
Centauro 105 “Lunga” (Long Centauro). Slightly stretched “Centauro” which can accommodate an infantry squad of four in the hull back. 150 vehicles, out of the 400 in service with Italian Army, have been so modified.
Centauro “VBC” Armoured personnel carrier fitted-up with an Oto Melara “HITFIST” turret; under evaluation by the Italian Army.
Centauro 120 “HITFACT” (Hightly Integrated Technology Firing Against Combat Tanks): “Centauro” hull fitted up with the new “HITFACT” turret and a 120mm gun. The most powerful wheeled tank destroyer under evaluation.
Future improvements of the “Centauro” breed are focused on the new “HITFACT” turret, proposed with either the 105mm rifled gun or the 120mm smooth-bore gun, and/on the new Iveco-Fiat V-6 common rail diesel engine with 462 kw(620HP), both under evaluation.