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OTO-Melara OF-40

Main Battle Tank (MBT) Combat Vehicle

Italy | 1981

"The OTO-Melara OF-40 Main Battle Tank was developed from the outset for the export market, the UAE becoming its sole operator."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/03/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Recognizing the need for a budget main battle tank on the world market, the Italian concerns of OTO-Melara and FIAT combined to produce the export-minded "OF-40" MBT. Work on the type - along with the derivative Palmaria 155mm Self-Propelled Gun - began in 1977 to which pilot vehicles were unveiled in 1980 (the Palmaria SPG utilized the chassis and hull of the OF-40 design with an all new turret). Through the joint venture, FIAT garnered the contract to manufacture engines and transmissions while OTO-Melara was the overseeing prime contractor and fulfilled the rest of the design and component requirements. Following trials and evaluation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the first - and subsequently the only - customer of the OF-40 tank resulting in 39 total examples completed. The Palmaria SPG system has since gone on to see considerably better export success. Production of OF-40 vehicles spanned from 1980 to 1985.

The OF-40 was a highly functional yet wholly basic main battle tank end-product. Design was conventional with a four-man crew, a 105mm main gun fitted to a well-sloped traversing turret and a tracked hull with the powerpack fitted to the rear. The engine consisted of a German MTU MB 838 Ca M500 V10 series supercharged diesel-fueled system outputting at 820 horsepower. The vehicle was suspended atop a torsion bar configuration while the track-and-wheel system sported seven double-tired road wheels to a side with the drive sprocket at the rear and the track idler at the front. The upper portions of the track link system were protected in thin skirt armor. All told, the OF-40 gave a top speed of 37 miles per hour with an operational range of 370 miles. As the OF-40 shared many of the same automotive components of the subsequent Palmaria design, it was logistically sound for countries to consider the purchase of both vehicle types - though this benefit never materialized on the global market. The standard crew included the driver at the front-right of the hull with the commander, loader and gunner in the turret. NBC protection was standard and night vision equipment made optional. The vehicle weighed in at 50 tons and sported a running length of 30 feet, a width of 11.5 feet and a height of 8 feet.

At the heart of the OF-40 design was its 105mm L7 main gun. The British-designed weapon proved a popular anti-tank measure during the Cold War - particularly for Western tank designs - before being superseded by a more powerful 120mm offering. 57 x 105mm projectiles were stored in the turret and hull of the OF-40 while self-defense was through 2 x 7.62mm machine guns - one fitted in a coaxial mounting in the turret alongside the main gun and the other fitted on the turret roof to counter both enemy infantry and low-flying enemy threats. 5,700 x 7.62mm ammunition was carried aboard for both machine guns. The OF-40 could generate its own smoke screen to cover actions through 2 x 4 smoke grenade dischargers identified along the frontal turret sides.

The United Arab Emirates received their OF-40 tanks in an initial batch of 18 x Mk 1 series vehicles. A second order for 18 more Mk 2 standard vehicles and 3 x Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) variants followed. The Mk 2 standard introduced an improved fire control system (FCS) with laser rangefinder as well as improved gun stabilization. A stabilized, turret roof-mounted day/night scope was afforded to the commander's position and all major optics were replaced for the better. A Low Light Level Television (LLLTV) camera was further added. When receiving their new Mk 2 models, existing UAE Mk 1 forms were all upgraded to the Mk 2 standard.

Despite the improvements, the OF-40 was quickly superseded globally by many modern MBT types including the German Leopard 2, British Challenger (1 and 2), the French Leclerc, the Russian T-90 and the American M1 Abrams. Each has since evolved to feature a bevy of advanced sensors and improved accuracy while the popular 105mm of old has since given way to the 120mm caliber or larger - leaving the OF-40 series somewhat outmoded by modern standards. However, the OF-40 was never intended to compete directly with these powerful mounts, only supplying potential buyers with a competent, budget-conscious alternative concerning an MBT. At any rate, the OF-40 may very well do adequately in combat against the foes the UAE are expected to face. Global interest in the system was shown by other parties initially though the UAE became its sole operator. The OF-40 is neither in production nor is it actively marketed by OTO-Melara as of this writing (2016).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the OTO-Melara OF-40 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Combat Vehicle.
1 x MTU MB 838 Ca M500 V-10 surper-charged, diesel-fueled engine developing 830 horsepower at 2,200rpm driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Installed Power
37 mph
60 kph
Road Speed
373 miles
600 km
The physical qualities of the OTO-Melara OF-40 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Combat Vehicle.
30.2 ft
9.22 meters
O/A Length
11.5 ft
3.51 meters
O/A Width
8.0 ft
2.45 meters
O/A Height
100,310 lb
45,500 kg | 50.2 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the OTO-Melara OF-40 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Combat Vehicle.
1 x 105mm L7 main gun in front turret face.
1 x 7.62mm co-axial machine gun in front turret face.
1 x 7.62mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) machine gun on turret roof.
2 x 4 Smoke grenade dischargers on turret sides.
57 x 105mm projectiles.
5,700 x 7.62mm ammunition.
8 x Smoke grenades.
Nightvision - YES - OPTIONAL.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES.
Notable series variants as part of the OTO-Melara OF-40 family line.
OF-40 - Base Series Designation
OF-40 Mk 1 - Initial Production Mark; 18 examples delivered to the UAE.
OF-40 Mk 2 - Updated fire control system (Galileo); updated optics; installed camera; improved gunnery accuracy; prior Mk 1 models brought up to Mk 2 standard; 18 new-build exmaples delivered to the UAE.
OF-40 ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle; based on the chassis and hull of the OF-40 design; 3 examples delivered to the UAE.
OF-40 - Proposed (though abandoned) air defense variant armed with twin 35mm guns in revised turret.
Palmaria SPG - 155mm Self-Propelled Gun variant; utilizing chassis and hull of the OF-40 MBT with all-new turret mounting 155mm main gun.
OTO 76/62 - 76mm anti-aircraft system
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the OTO-Melara OF-40. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 39 Units

Contractor(s): OTO-Melara - Italy
National flag of the United Arab Emirates

[ United Arab Emirates ]
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Image of the OTO-Melara OF-40

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The OTO-Melara OF-40 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Combat Vehicle appears in the following collections:
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