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Italy’s Leonardo and Franco-German KNDS announced on 13 December 2023 that they have signed an agreement to engage in more intensive co-operation.

The aim of the accord is to create a truly European defence group, given that KNDS is the result of a merger between France’s Nexter and Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, and to deepen their co-operation in the field of land systems electronics.

“Such a strategic alliance will enable the implementation of programmes in co-operation among European nations by strengthening their national industrial base and developing the future generation of armoured vehicle platforms, including the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS),” the companies announced in a joint press release.

The Leonardo/KNDS alliance supports the strategy defined by the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD) in its Documento Programmatico Difesa 2023-2025 and in the joint ‘action plan’ signed by the German and Italian governments on 22 November 2023, which covers closer co-operation in security as well as other areas.

In addition, Leonardo and KNDS have also signed an agreement to jointly implement a main battle tank (MBT) procurement programme with a solution based on the Leopard 2A8. The companies will collaborate in the development, manufacturing and maintenance of the Leopard 2A8 as the future MBT solution for the Italian Army, as well as its support platforms.

The alliance between Leonardo and KNDS aims to create further production and development capabilities in Italy and to use these for future European and export projects.

The Italian MoD is currently working on two major Italian Army modernisation programmes: alongside procurement of the Leopard MBT, it is also looking to acquire new infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) under the Armored Infantry Combat System (AICS) programme to replace the army’s Dardo (IFVs) and M113 armoured personnel carriers.

A KNDS Leopard 2A7 MBT. The programme for the successor to this tank, the Leopard 2A8, to fulfil the Italian Army’s future MBT requirement will cement a closer relationship between Leonardo and KNDS. (Photo: KNDS)