Armor: February 4, 2000


DARDO: ITALY'S ARMORED FIGHTING VEHICLE The Italian Army has long had a serious gap in its armored forces, i.e., the lack of an armored infantry fighting vehicle such as the Bradley, BMP, Warrior, or Marder. That gap is now being filled by the Dardo (Dart). Italy has ordered 200 Dardos and expects to eventually buy 800. These will be used to carry the infantry that accompany the new Ariete tank. The official designation is VCC80 (Armored Fighting Vehicle for the 80s), indicating that the vehicle is reaching service more than a decade after it was originally expected. The Dardos will be issued to the 8th and 18th Battalions of the Garibaldi Mech Brigade, the 82nd and 11th battalions of the Ariete Armored Brigade, the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the Centauro Mech Brigade, and the 7th battalion of the Pinerolo Mech Brigade. Dardo is similar in layout to Bradley or Warrior. The turret is in the center, the driver is at the front left, the engine at the front right, and six riflemen ride in the rear compartment. The turret mounts a 25mm KBA autocannon and has a single TOW missile tube on either side (total of two missile tubes). The gun has bins for 75 armor piercing rounds and 125 high explosive rounds; another 200 rounds are stored inside the vehicle. The coaxial 7.62mm MG42 has 500 rounds stored on the gun. Besides the six infantry, there is a crew of three (driver, gunner, commander). The troop compartment has two firing ports on each side and one to the rear; other Western vehicles have abandoned these in order to improve protection levels. Dardo weighs in at 23.4 tons without the add-on armor packages. It is 6.7m long, 3.0m wide, and 2.7m high. The diesel engine generates 520hp, providing a road speed of 70km/hr. Road range is 600km. --Stephen V Cole 


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