The Ariete main battle tank has been developed by the Consorzio Iveco Fiat - OTO Melara with headquarters in Rome. This is a consortium formed by Iveco SpA, Defence Vehicles Division and the Otobreda Division of Alenia Difesa. Iveco Fiat has carried out the development of the tank and Otobreda the development of the turret and weapon systems.
Ariete entered production for the Italian army in 1995. 200 tanks have been ordered and final deliveries are due in 2002.
The Ariete can engage stationary and moving targets by day and by night, while the tank itself is stationary or on-the-move. The main gun is a 44 calibre 120 mm auto-frettaged smoothbore gun manufactured by OTOBreda. The gun is fitted with a thermal sleeve, a fume extraction system and a muzzle reference system. The gun is stabilised in two axes by hydraulic servoes and can fire all available types of ammunition including APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) and HEAT (high explosive anti-tank) rounds. The tank carries 42 rounds of 120 mm ammunition, the turret bustle accommodating 15 rounds of ammunition and 27 rounds being stored in the hull.
The Ariete is also armed with a 7.62 mm NATO standard machine gun mounted coaxially with the main gun and a 7.62 mm air defence machine gun mounted on the turret roof and operated by the tank commander. The tank has the capacity to carry approximately 2,500 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.
The turret and weapon elevation is controlled by an electro-hydraulic system with manual backup.
Electrically operated smoke grenade dischargers are mounted either side of the turret in the forward firing position. The tank is fitted with the RALM laser warning receiver produced by Marconi SpA. The RALM sensor head is mounted on the forward part of the turret and gives 360 degree coverage.
The hull and turret are of all welded steel construction with enhanced armour protection over the frontal arc. The crew are protected from nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare by an NBC protection system developed by Sekur SpA in Rome.
FIRE CONTROL AND OBSERVATION
The tank's fire control system is the TURMS FCS produced by Officine Galileo of Firenze, Italy. It includes a day/night stabilised commander's panoramic periscope sight, gunner's stabilised sight with thermal imager and laser rangefinder and digital fire control computer. The digital fire control computer downloads data from the tank's meteorological and wind sensors, together with the tank attitude, barrel wear characteristics, ammunition and target data. The computer calculates the fire control algorithms and is used to control the gun, the sighting systems and the laser rangefinder.
The commander's station on the right of the turret is equipped with the panoramic stabilised sight and a television monitor displaying the thermal image from the gunner's sight. The commander's sight, mounted on the roof of the turret, has a 360 degree traverse and an elevation range from -10 to +60 degrees.
The driver's station on the right front of the hull is equipped with three periscopes, one of which has passive night vision capability.
The Ariete is powered by a Fiat V-12 MTCA turbo-charged, 12 cylinder, diesel engine developing 937 kW. The automatic transmission system, licensed from the German company ZF, has 4 forward and 2 reverse gears, and incorporates the steering system and hydraulic retarder. The final drives are epicyclic.
The running gear consists of seven dual rubber-lined road wheels, plus four return rollers on each side with connector type tracks. The double pin track was designed by the German company Diehl. The suspension system consists of a torsion bar and hydraulic bumper on each suspension arm.
The Ariete is capable of a maximum speed in excess of 65 km/hour and the maximum gradient is 60%. The fording depth is 4 m with preparation and 1.25 m without preparation.