Following in the footsteps of the Russian program of the T-14 Armata main battle tank, German engineers foresee the possibility of developing the next versions of their tank with an uninhabited turret.
The presentation of the Panther KF51 by Rheinmetall was the highlight of the first day of the Eurosatory fair, the main arms event in Europe, which opened its doors on June 13 in Paris.
The German arms consortium indicated in a communiqué that its new product sets “new standards” in terms of “lethality, protection, reconnaissance, networks and mobility”.
The main battle tank was designed at the initiative of the company and with its own funds and not commissioned by a client, Jan-Phillipp Weisswange, deputy director of public relations at Rheinmetall, told the Breaking Defense portal.
The manager specified that the tank was designed for the export market and not as a candidate for the c truck Franco-German MGCS main battle tank, conceived in 2012 to replace the Leopard 2 and Leclerc main battle tanks in response to the appearance of the advanced Russian T-14 Armata tank .
The Panther inherits its chassis from the Leopard 2 (the tank used by several NATO countries and their allies), but its turret is completely new. According to the company, the loaded tank weighs 50 tons and its maximum autonomy is around 500 kilometers.
However, the company’s statement does not specify specific data about its new export product, such as information on signed contracts, armor parameters and penetration capacity of its projectiles.
The main feature of the new tank is its very powerful weapons, especially its 130 mm cannon mm. It will be the first time that a German or American tank has a gun with a caliber greater than 120 millimeters, since until now the most powerful western gun was the Rheinmetall Rh-120, 55 calibers long, currently installed on Leopard tanks. -2 Germans and the American Abrams.
The new 130mm gun was formally unveiled at Eurosatory in 2016 in response to reports that the The T-14 Armata’s 125mm 2A82 cannon is 17% more powerful than the Rheinmetall Rh-120/L55.
The barrel is automatically loaded from two revolver-type magazines, each containing 10 rounds. According to the company, the new 130mm gun “allows for a 50% longer kill range [que el cañón de 120 mm] with an unrivaled rate of fire, due to autoloader performance.” It can fire kinetic energy projectiles, as well as programmable fragmentation ammunition and training projectiles.
This weapon is complemented by a coaxial 12.7 mm machine gun instead of the 7.62mm found in most major battle tanks today. At the rear of the turret is a new 7.62mm Natter remotely controlled machine gun module. it can be integrated with a system to launch a HERO 120 kamikaze attack drone.
The tank not only has “passive protection” (armor), but also reactive armor (probably integrated into the hull, the same as the Russian T-14 Armata), as well as so-called “active protection”, capable of shooting down armor-piercing shells.
The term “active protection” most likely refers to the system Afganit Russian, fitted to Armata tanks and developed to shoot down under-calibrated enemy shells. It also has a protection system against attacks on the upper part, which is usually the least armored part of a tank.
The tank has been designed to to be operated by three people: a commander and a gunner who are in the turret and a pilot who is in the chassis. The chassis also has an additional space available as a command post or to accommodate a drone operator.
However, Rheinmetall does not rule out that in the future other versions of your tank will have an uninhabited turret, as in the case of the T-14 Armata, since the driver’s position contains a computer capable of controlling the turret remotely.