The Land Armament Directorate of the Italian Ministry of Defence has ordered 36 Veicoli Blindati Anfibi (VBA) amphibious 8×8 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from Iveco Defence Vehicles. The vehicles are due to be deployed with the Italian Marine infantry of the San Marco Marine Brigade, where they will replace the legacy AAV-7A1 tracked amphibious APCs. Iveco stated that the contract is related to the National Defence Fleet Renewal and Expansion Programme, which aims to increase the Italian Navy’s national force projection capability by sea.
The VBA is based on the Iveco SuperAV 8×8 design, which is also the basis of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) selected by the US Marine Corps. For the VBA, Iveco has modified the baseline design for Italy’s requirements. According to Iveco, the VBA can be launched and retrieved from an amphibious ship in the open sea, and provides offers good mobility and high ballistic protection, as well as protection from mines and IEDs.
According to the manufacturer, in terms of armament, the VBA is armed with a heavy machine gun (calibre 12.7 mm) in a remote-controlled Hitrole remote weapon station (RWS) from Leonardo, and is provided with modern command, control, communication, and computers (C4) systems. The vehicle is powered by a 520 kW (697.3 hp) Cursor 16 engine from FTP Industrial, combined with a 7-speed automatic transmission and an H-drive to supply power to each wheel station. The driveline is derived from the Centauro and Freccia combat vehicles. In terms of mobility, the VBA has a top speed of 105 km/h on roads, and the vehicle is also fully amphibious without preparation, achieving up to 12 km/h in water, in wave heights of up to 1.25 m (Sea State 3), powered by two rear-mounted hydraulically driven propellers.