The design of the OF-40 was heavily influenced by the Leopard 1, as at that time, OTO Melara was licensed to produce 720 Leopard 1 tanks for the Italian Army.

Born in the late 1970s of the last century, OF-40 MBT was expected to help Italy get billion-dollar arms export contracts from the Middle East, but in the end it only serves the United Arab Emirates. OF-40 was developed as a private joint venture between OTO Melara and Fiat, OTO Melara responsible for overall design and production, and Fiat for the powerpack.

The design of the OF-40 was heavily influenced by the Leopard 1, as at that time, OTO Melara was licensed to produce 720 Leopard 1 tanks for the Italian Army. The OF-40 was mass produced between 1980 and 1985. The first batch of 18 tanks was delivered to the UAE in 1981.

OF-40 MBT
OF-40 MBT

To suit the Middle East customers, it was perapred to be tropicalized and adapted for intended use in hot and sunny climates. The design featured quite a great number of Leopard-1 original parts parts and shared the general hull and turret with standard production Leopard-1s produced by the company.

The tank has a combat weight of 45.5 tons, a length of 9.22 m, a width of 3.51 m, and a height of 2.76 m. Its crew of 4 includes: commander, driver, gunner, and loader. The driver was located to the front right, operating three forward periscopes, with the central one shifted if needed with an infrared night vision sight. Some of the ammunition storage was located to his left. Both the hull and the turret are welded with cold steel RHA. The frontal glacis was well-sloped, the hull’s sites and and chassis are protected by 15 mm of add-on appliqué armor.

The OF-40’s main gun is a non-stabilized OTO Melara 105 mm rifled gun, which is similar to the British L7. It is compatible with standard NATO ammunition and fires armor-piercing, HE and HE-FRAG rounds. A total of 57 rounds of ammunition are carried for the main gun, however only 15 rounds are stowed in the turret bustle and are ready to use.

Auxiliary armament is a coaxial 7.62 mm LMG and another optional mounted over the commander’s hatch. The fire control system consisted of a modern laser rangefinder mounted in the gunner optical sight, and an electronic ballistic computer. Two banks of four smoke grenade launchers were mounted on both sides of the turret. This main battle tank is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.

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