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C1 Ariete – the Italian MBT for the 21st Century


Since the appearance of the Soviet T-72 tank back in the early 1970’s the entire NATO was after the new MBT that will be capable of tackling it. It was a joint project of all NATO countries, but because of the certain disputes the entire MBT concept gave the birth of several modern tanks. The Italian army chooses to develop their own tank and the C1 Ariete was born.

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The development of C1 Ariete MBT lasted until the mid-90’s and the first batch was delivered to the Italian army in 1995. It was in production until 2002 and several upgrades were introduced over the time.

The entire concept is built around the standard NATO L44 120 mm gun. The turret was designed by Oto Melara while the chassis and the transmission were designed by Iveco FIAT. The main upgrades made over the time are the increase of the armor protection (the later batches were equipped with somewhat thicker armor) and the engine. The initial batch was equipped with a V12 engine that was actually made of the two V6 engines and it caused the tank to be less maneuverable than predicted although it had 1250Hp. Because of this the new V12 Iveco Fiat MTCA engine of 1600hp was introduced and it proved to be more than sufficient.

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Basic characteristics

The L44 120mm gun mounted on C1 Ariete isn’t falling back behind other tanks of the same class and it can fire all the standard NATO rounds including the most modern SABOT ammo. It gives it the power to tackle any hard target on the battlefield. For soft targets, C1 Ariete has a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and another 7.62 mm AA machine gun. The fire control system developed by Galileo Avionica provides accurate fire in all weather conditions, day or night.

The armor of C1 Ariete is made of a composite and steel blend and it provides very good protection from the front. The very shape of the frontal armor provides very good ballistic characteristics against all kinds of shells, but the absence of the ERA or depleted uranium makes it somewhat softer than some of its competitors. The only countermeasure that C1 Ariete has at its disposal is two sets of smoke launchers and that is quite insufficient on the modern battlefield.

Finally, C1 Ariete has a pretty high power to weight ratio and that makes it quite maneuverable. Its automatic gearbox only adds to this and makes an overall rather capable main battle tank.

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