After the end of WW2, the Italian industry completely stopped development and production of domestically designed tanks. During the Cold War, the Italian industry would produce armored fighting vehicles for its own needs, however most of these vehicles were foreign designs built under licence.
In the late 1970s, Oto Melara and Fiat began developing the first Italian post-WW2 tank, under a join private venture. As Oto Melara was already mass-producing the German Leopard 1 MBT under licence for the Italian Army, its engineers possessed sufficient experience and know-how in order to develop their own tank.
The resulting vehicle, designated OF-40, turned out to be, somewhat unsurprisingly, very similar in design to the German Leopard 1 already in service with the Italian Army. Nonetheless, the OF-40 became the first domestically developed and produced Italian tank after WW2.
Despite the many similarities however, the Italian military proved reluctant in ordering the OF-40 for mass production. As a result of being unable to find a domestic operator, Oto Melara turned to the export market and soon found a willing buyer - the United Arab Emirates.
Shortly after, the OF-40 was upgraded to the Mk.2 version which, among other things, improved the vehicle’s optics and rangefinder, added a two-plane stabilization system for the main gun, and an improved fire control system, allowing the vehicle to fire improved ammunition.
The OF-40 was only built in limited numbers and for a limited time, with the UAE being the only operator world-wide. The UAE still uses the OF-40 today, although in different roles, with proposals being made to convert the vehicle into a heavy IFV.