IVECO DEFENCE GOES GLOBAL
By Julian Nettlefold
The Second in our OUVS features
The establishment of the IVECO Defence Vehicles plant in the picturesque Northern Italian town of Bolzano in 1937 was brought about by Benito Mussolini’s wish to industrialise the Italian Northern territories ceded to Italy after World War I by Germany in 1919. Formerly the home of Lancia Trucks, the Bolzano Plant has grown to become one of the most advanced defence vehicle facilities in Europe, if not the world, producing over 1000 specialist wheeled military vehicles a year from light 4×4 40.10 trucks thru the ubiquitous LMV, of which more later, to heavy 8×8 18 tonne military trucks. In addition to vehicles, the Bolzano plant also builds a number of key driveline components from engine blocks to gearboxes and assemblies. BATTLESPACE visited the plant in April to get a first sight of its capabilities. Having toured the plant, BATTLESPACE came away with a completely different view of IVECO Defence. Often seen as a niche manufacturer of specialist wheeled vehicles for the Italian Army with a few exports, the company came across instead as a world-class manufacturer of military vehicles.
IVECO Defence Vehicles
To appreciate the size of the IVECO Defence Vehicles operation it is worth taking a snapshot of its parent, the huge IVECO truck corporation, itself a subsidiary of the giant Fiat combine. IVECO had revenues of e9.136bn in 2006, making 1,818,500 vehicles of varying types, employing 24,533 employees operating from (4) sites in Italy (2), Spain and Germany, with one soon to be opened in France. In addition to vehicles, IVECO produces a staggering 444,000 diesel engines per year. IVECO Defence Vehicles is headed by Mr Pietro Borgo and sells 3000 military vehicles of varying types per year from plants in Piacenza and Bolzano. The company had 2007 sales of e450m and exports 57% of production to the Middle East, South America and North Africa. European customers include Spain, France, Norway, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the U.K. and Italy.
Light Multirole Vehicle – LMV
The rising star of IVECO Defence Vehicles is the Light Multirole Vehicle (LMV). The LMV is a 4WD tactical vehicle developed by IVECO, and in, or entering, service with eight countries.
After its adoption by the Italian Army under the name VTLM Lince (1200), it has been adopted by the British Army as the Panther CLV (401) Belgium (460), Croatia (8), Spain (84), the Czech Republic (4) and the Norwegian Army. It is under evaluation by the German, Egyptian and Irish Armies. Total numbers of vehicles sold to date number more than 2200 with over 600 having been delivered to customers.
“What kicked off the development of the LMV?” The Editor asked Andrew Simpson, Military Consultant to IVECO Defence Vehicles in the UK.
“In the late 1990’s IVECO identified a need for a light 4×4 multi-role protected military vehicle to meet the evolving threats being encountered around the world, particularly IED and mine blast. IVECO invested e25m to develop a vehicle using COTS parts available through IVECO dealers. Development started in 1999 aimed at meeting an Italian Army requirement in 2003; crew Survivability was key. To that end IVECO developed an armoured ‘crew cell’ structure mounted on the chassis members, not a monocoque armoured body. The ‘crew cell’ concept counters mine attacks by managing the blast energy, deflecting it away from the crew cell. By contrast, a monocoque chassis provides limited scope for energy management, so risking killing or maiming the occupants with blast damage, resulting in anything from severe internal injuries to loss of limbs and eyes. In addition, we mounted the seats on the roof of the crew cell. This allows the cab to act like a giant spring, again absorbing the blast energy and avoiding the direct transmission of shock to the feet of the crew. The cab is constructed of armoured steel, armoured glass and composi