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The Italian Army continues to equip its combat brigades with wheeled armoured vehicles. The Land Forces Directorate of the Italian Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with the Iveco – Oto Melara (CIO) consortium for the supply of 40 FRECCIA 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicles, six 10×10 rescue and recovery vehicles, and logistic support for the vehicles for five years of operation, CIO has announced. The contract is estimated to be worth €440M.

The new FRECCIA type Veicolo Blindato Medio (VBM) are a modernised version of the combat vehicles already introduced in large numbers in Italy. Designated VBM Combat Plus, CIO has integrated a new common rail-engine with 485 kW (plus 80 kW). The propulsion system has been prepared for a future hybrid electric drive system. In the turret, the upgraded fire control system has been modified to accommodate new-generation electrical components such as digital optical detection and targeting systems. In addition, there are new systems for internal and external communication (Software Defined Radios) as well as a new Communication and Information System.

The vehicles will be delivered in three versions. 14 will be designed as mortar carriers, 13 CBMs will come as command vehicles with two seats for command post personnel (tactical unit) and 13 as command vehicles without turret for a higher command level with four command post workplaces (command unit).

According to CIO, the recovery and rescue variants feature all-wheel drive on all five axles with three steering axles, a 500 kW Cursor 16 engine from FPT Industrial and a redesigned protected high-roof cabin that meets demanding crew protection standards. These vehicles can lift and move loads of up to 25 t from a stable platform, as well as recover broken-down, damaged or overturned vehicles with a total weight of up to 32 t.