Germany’s Rheinmetall and the Italian manufacturer Leonardo have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in land systems today to establish a 50/50 joint venture (JV) aimed at supporting the development of new Italian Army Main Battle Tanks and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV).

According to Rheinmetall, the main objective of the agreement is the industrial development and subsequent commercialization of the new Main Battle Tank (MBT) and the new Lynx Platform for the Armoured Infantry Combat System (AICS) intended for the service.

Pending approval from regulatory agencies, such as the European Commission and respective national competition authorities, the future JV will be based in Italy and will function as the “lead system integrator, prime contractor, and system integrator” for both Italian initiatives, while also defining the roadmap for potential involvement in the future European Main Ground Combat System (MGCS), as highlighted by Rheinmetall.

Leonardo will be responsible for the development and production of mission systems, electronics suites, and weapons integration for both Italian projects in alignment with Italian customer requirements.

The technologies associated with these projects will not only support the development of the future European MBT but also new versions intended for international export, as mentioned by Rheinmetall. The company emphasized that the newly developed Panther main battle tank and the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle provide a solid technological foundation for both programs.

This collaboration between Leonardo and Rheinmetall comes shortly after Leonardo terminated its joint development of the Leopard 2A8 MBT with Franco-German KNDS due to failure to reach a mutually acceptable configuration.

Reports from German business publication Handelsblatt suggested that Italy is considering a substantial order worth €20 billion ($21.6 billion) for 350 Lynx and 200 Panther vehicles. This potential Panther procurement decision may impact the previously planned purchase of 132 Leopard 2A8IT MBTs, outlined in Italian parliamentary documents, alongside funding for 140 support vehicles at an estimated cost of €8.2 billion ($8.8 billion) through 2037.

As of the time of publication, the Italian Ministry of Defence has not provided a comment on these developments.


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