Contraves Italiana (a company of the Contraves Group) was founded in Rome in 1952. Its principal mission was the production of short-range air defence systems, mainly for NATO countries. The company quickly developed excellent capabilities in the field of engineering and systems integration, particularly in electronic and radar technologies. In the 1960s the company began developing products for the industrial and commercial market as well, and in the 1980s entered the space sector.
Oerlikon Italiana (an Oerlikon Group company) was founded in Milan in 1948 and initially specialized in precision machine tools. In the 1960s, it entered the defence sector, designing and producing 20mm, 25mm and 35mm automatic cannon, as well as mechanical parts for Contraves Italiana systems. Production of machine tools ceased at the end of the eighties.
In 1993, in response to profound, fast-moving changes in the global defence market, Contraves Italiana S.p.A and Oerlikon Italiana S.p.A. merged to form Oerlikon Contraves S.p.A., mirroring the merger of the Oerlikon and Contraves groups.
In 1999 Oerlikon Contraves S.p.A. was acquired by Rheinmetall AG, a leading German defence and automotive technology group, and incorporated into Rheinmetall’s Defence arm.
In August 2007, Oerlikon Contraves S.p.A. changed its name to Rheinmetall Italia S.p.A.