ELVO introduced an extremely advanced Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle of its own design and development, named Kentaurus.
Greece is deeply in debt, the economy is constantly in recession, but did you know that Greece is one of the nations of NATO and the European Union spends a lot on defense. The main reason is the fear of being invaded by Turkey; The former Ottoman fears and obsession once dominated Greece for nearly four centuries.
In Greece, ELVO is the largest supplier of armored vehicles and other vehicles for the Greek Army. ELVO was founded in June 1972 with the purpose to produce tractors, bicycles and diesel engines to equip tractors and trucks. Nowadays ELVO has various production lines, regarding various types of vehicles, such as track-laying armoured vehicles, city buses, coaches and trucks.
In 1998, stemming from a need for new infantry fighting vehicle emerged in the Greek Army to replace their old BMP and M113 infantry fighting vehicles either partly or completely with a more modern system. ELVO introduced an extremely advanced Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle of its own design and development, named Kentaurus.
The Kentaurus was successfully tested by the Greek Army and was approved for procurement. However no production orders were placed, mainly because of high production costs. Instead a Russian BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle has been ordered. So the indigenous Kentaurus never passed through prototype and pre-production stage. On the other hand the Russian BMP-3 was superior in many respects over the Greek Kentaurus. It was better protected, packed heavier punch, was fully amphibious and had some other advantages over the Kentaurus.
The vehicle takes its name from the Greek word for Centaur the creature from Greek mythology. The hull is made of welded steel. The engine is placed in the front-right compartment, with the driver in the front-left. The turret follows and then the troop compartment. The driver accesses his position either from a roof hatch or from the troop compartment. The commander is situated in the E-8 KUKA 1-man turret behind the driver. The E8 turret developed by Rheinmetall Landsysteme dimensions and weight were tailored to the needs of the Hercules C130 air-transportable Kentaurus for the Greek Army. The troop compartment is accessed from two rear-doors, as well as from two roof-hatches. The squad leader sits alone, with the rest of the men at the sides in a 3-man and 4-man rows. The troops have two optical periscopes for situational awareness. The interior of the vehicle has been designed to permit comfortable movement for men of up to 1.90m height.
The 19.8 ton vehicle has ballistic protection against 25 mm APDS projectiles fired from a range of 400m over the frontal arc and full protection from 7.62 mm small arms fire through a full 360 degrees. If the user requires a higher level of protection, additional add-on armour could be mounted on the hull and turret. Against indirect fire, the hull provides protection against 155 mm High explosives projectiles. In addition, the vehicle provides a high level of protection against non-direction anti-personnel mines. The vehicle also has a low radar and infra-red signature.
Kentaurus is powered by an MTU 6V18TE22 diesel engine, providing 420 horsepower. The vehicle can reach speeds of 75 km/h and operational service out to 500km. A rotary damper suspension system has been added for cross-country travel.
The Type E8 one-man turret has been developed by Rheinmetall Landsysteme and is of a low-profile design. The turret is equipped with 30mm machine cannon MK30-1 with 396 rounds. Secondary armament is a MG3A1 machine gun of 7.62mm, it can be replaced with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.
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The E8 turret is equipped with a state-of-the-art fire control system consisting of a primary stabilised sensor head, ballistic computer, operation panel and appropriate display. The additional conventional aiming periscope in combination with three further periscopes provide an all round battle field observation capability to the gunner. All electro-optical turret sights are as well provided for the chassis situated Kentaurus commander.
Despite successful tests by the Greek army, its approval, and an initial agreement in 2003 for an order of 140 vehicles, its fate is uncertain due to subsequent cutbacks in relevant military spending, and evaluation of cheaper alternatives. In 2009 the Greek army signed an Memorandum of Understanding for 450 BMP-3s but as of 2012 the contract was frozen and the Greek army is still looking for 500 Infantry fighting vehicle’s to replace the ageing BMP-1 and the purchase of 500 Kentaurus Infantry fighting vehicle’s is being considered.