By Paolo Valpolini
The success, together with BAE Systems as prime contractor, in the US Marine Corps bid for the 8×8 wheeled Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), USMC requirements having led to a development of the original SuperAV amphibious vehicle born in Bolzano and designed by Iveco Defence Vehicles engineers. With 16 prototypes taking part in the competitive trials, stressed by the Marines in all conditions, from the desert to Alaska, and the production now underway, the amphibious version that features the H-drive that characterizes Iveco DV 8×8 vehicles is fully mature.
The Italian wheeled vehicle specialist company has developed in the last decades three other 8×8, the original Centauro armoured car armed with a 105 mm rifled gun, born in the early 1980s, the VBM Freccia, an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) designed according to Italian Army specs, and the follow on Centauro 2 armoured car, armed with a 120 mm smoothbore gun.
Although proposed to the export market, Iveco DV felt the need to add to its portfolio a land-oriented vehicle designed to be fitted with an unmanned turret, the Freccia is equipped with a two-man turret, to improve its chances on the export market.
Considering the maturity of its SuperAV amphibious 8×8 Iveco DV decided to exploit as much as possible the work done on that vehicle to give birth to a new product, the SuperAV Land.
“The SuperAV was designed to ensure optimal performances also over land, one of the key characteristics being i.e. its ability to operate swiftly o soft terrain, and the experience acquired on the amphibious version allowed us to reach prototype status in less than two years,” an Iveco DV representative explains to EDR On-Line. The prototype was ready for Eurosatory 2020, which was then cancelled, the vehicle having then been refined in order to make it ready for customer’s trials, and is being now unveiled at IDEX 2021 .
“The SuperAV Land has around 85% commonalities with the amphibious vehicle, the powerpack being identical while the transmission had only minor modifications,” the source tells us. The main reason for those modifications is the slight decrease of the distance between the second, third and fourth axles, the vehicle being now 450 mm shorter than the amphibious version. The main reason for that was the fact that land formations usually have a squad/fire team made of eight soldiers, five less compared to the USMC squad. Not only, the SuperAV Land is also 190 mm lower than its amphibious counterpart, the extra height of the latter being mostly due to freeboard considerations. These reductions, which bring the internal volume from 14 to 13 m3, allowed saving considerable weight, which is equivalent to the average mass of a medium calibre unmanned turret. Of course the SuperAV Land was stripped for all subsystems related to amphibious capabilities, propellers, shafts, trim vane, double bilge pumps, etc. This, together with the reduction of dismounted soldiers from 13 to 8, which means 800 kg less to carry considering 160 kg load per soldier, allowed to invest the saved mass in added protection, EDR On-Line having understood that this should have been increased by about one level according to STANAG 4569, the exact level for ballistic as well as for mine/IED protection, energy absorbing seats are fitted, remaining classified.
As said the empty weight remains at 26,000 kg with a 4,000 kg payload, the vehicle being 8.3 meters long, 3.1 meters wide and 2.6 meters high at hull top. As said the powerplant remains the same, based on an Iveco Cursor 16 turbocharged intercooler diesel engine providing 700 hp coupled to an Allison 4800 SP gearbox with seven forward and two reverse gears. The independent hydro-pneumatic McPherson independent suspensions ensure maximum mobility off-road, the vehicle being fitted with transversal differential lock that can be disengaged on the front axle. As standard the SuperAV Land is provided with steering on the first and second axles, however to further reduce the 10.2 meters turning radius the fourth axle can be made counter-steering at low speed. The vehicle is equipped with 16.00 R20 XZL tires fitted with run-flat VFI system and central tyre inflation system to allow optimising performances on soft ground. The SuperAV Land obstacle crossing performances are identical to those of its amphibious counterpart, over 60% gradient, over 30% side slope, over 0.65 meters step, over 2 meters trench, and maintains the same 1.5 meters fording depth capability. It can exceed 105 km/h on road, its range at 70 km/h being of more than 700 km. Over 900 A of electric power is available on board, the SuperAV Land being fitted with a digital vetronic system allowing easy integration of third parties subsystems. To improve maintainability it features a built-in diagnostic system.
The prototype being shown at IDEX 2021 does not has any turret fitted; “We fitted it with the higher diameter turret ring, which allows us to eventually add adapters to cope with any turret a potential customer would like to fit in for trials, production vehicles being of course equipped with a ring of appropriate diameter depending of the turret chosen,” an Iveco DV source told EDR On-Line.
Talking of industrialisation, Iveco DV underlines that all what is related to the automotive side is already in production at its plants, the Italian company providing powerpack, driveline, hydraulics, electrical control systems, dashboards, inside fittings and seats for the USC programme. As for the
high hardness monococque steel hull this would be made at the Vittorio Veneto plant, which is specialised in ballistic steel hulls production. That said Iveco DV is ready to discuss technology transfer programmes with any potential customer, such operations having already been carried out with Brazil for the VBTP 6×6 and the US for the ACV. The Italian company is looking at the Abu Dhabi exhibition as a first chance for showing its new vehicle.
 In fact in mid-October 2020 the existence of this vehicle leaked from a presentation to the Qatari Army, some representatives of that service being in Italy for an exercise. Qatar announced in 2019 to have selected Nexter’s VBCI but the contract was never signed. Rumours about an interest for the German Boxer surfaced in late 2020. According to information that country also expressed interest for the amphibious version of the SuperAV.
Image and photos courtesy Iveco DV