KNDS announces end of partnership with Leonardo. New perspectives open up for Italian tank and AICS 11/06/2024 | Pietro Batacchi

In an official release, KNDS announced the end of negotiations to formalise the partnership with Leonardo. This step was part of the implementation pathway of the LoI (Letter of Intent) that the two companies had signed in December last year. The main object of this partnership should have been the LEOPARD-2A8 tank and its supply to the Italian Army (but also the AICS programme, Armored Infantry Combat System). The two companies, in practice, did not agree on the so-called Italianisation of the tank, which was, moreover, provided for in the decree authorising the programme approved by the Italian Parliament. As explicitly stated in the press release, KNDS did not want to touch the LEOPARD-2 standard and wanted to safeguard its configuration. Such a choice is frankly questionable considering that the EUR 8 billion value of the contract. At this point, new prospects open up for the acquisition of a new battle tank, as well as for the AICS. As far as the MBT is concerned, the most credible candidate seems to be the PANTHER, unveiled by Rheinmetall in 2022 during Eurosatory. This tank is based on multi-domain requirements, prepared for integration with drones and loitering munitions, yet featuring a reasonable weight and offering excellent margins for future growth. Between the lines of the KNDS press release, it is clearly readable an intention to still offer the LEOPARD-2A8 to the Italian Army as it is ('Yet KNDS continues to be committed to supporting the Italian Army'). For the AICS, on the other hand, the candidates remain the 'evolved' CV-90 from BAE Systems and the LYNX from Rheinmetall. It is clear, however, that under these conditions a PANTHER/LYNX mix would make sense, with excellent growth prospects for the Italian Defence land sector.

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