The B1 Centauro was one of numerous new vehicles designed in the late 1980s to modernize the Italian Army. The Centauro is an 8 x 8 tank destroyer/reconnaissance vehicle which incorporates a 105-mm rifled gun capable of firing the same NATO-standard ammunition as the L7 and M68 guns. The hull and turret are built using all-welded steel, with enough armor protection to defend against small arms fire of up to 12.7-mm and shrapnel; the frontal arc is further protected against 20-mm rounds (additional layers of appliqué armor can be fitted as well). Layout is conventional, with the driver in the front left and the remaining crew members in the turret, which is located slightly behind the hull centerline. The powerplant is the same as in the Dardo IFV, and can be replaced in 20 minutes. Suspension is of the hydropneumatic type and there is significant flexibility against mine attacks: the vehicle can allegedly remain mobile with up to two wheels blown off. Other electronic equipment include a digital ballistic computer and a day/night fire control system. Shortly after its introduction, the Centauro was used during the interventions in Somalia and Yugoslavia where they gave excellent performance. Despite this, no export orders have been given with with more austere and cheaper versions proposed.
The requirement for a wheeled tank destroyer was drawn up in 1984 with the first prototype ready by 1987. The first production B1 Centauro was ready by 1991. A number of vehicles featured additional passive armor for service with IFOR in Bosnia. Others can carry a close defense section of four men using a new rear door, but at the cost of lower ammunition storage. An IFV version is known as the VBM Freccia and features the Centauro's hull with the Dardo IFV's turret. It is described separately.
|7.85 m (8.56 m)
|Track on Ground
|1 x 520-hp
|Diesel: 520 L
|1 x 105-mm L/52OTO Melara 105/52Rifled Gun↑ 15° / ↓ -6° / ↔ 360°
|Coaxial:1 x 7.62-mmMG 42/59Anti-Aircraft: 1 x 7.62-mmMG 42/59
|45 - 60 mm
|45 - 60 mm RHAe