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Rheinmetall Unveils ‘Game-Changer’ Main Battle Tank

Rheinmetall unveiled its “game-changer” KF51 Panther main battle tank at the Eurosatory 2022 weapons exhibition in Paris this week.

The 59-ton vehicle is a conceptual leap in “lethality, protection, reconnaissance, networking and mobility,” the German arms manufacturer says.

The tank’s NATO-standard digital architecture ensures connectedness of all weapons to the commander’s and gunner’s optics and the fire control computer, enabling “instantaneous target engagement.”

Weapons

The platform’s 130mm smoothbore Rheinmetall Future Gun System offers “50 percent greater effectiveness at significantly longer range of engagement” than that of the 120mm gun in current main battle tanks, the company claims.

The gun includes an autoloader that holds 20 prepared rounds and can fire “kinetic energy rounds as well as programmable airburst ammunition and corresponding practice rounds.”

Along with a 12.7 mm coaxial machine gun, the tank can also be outfitted with a remote control weapon station for drone defense and a HERO 120 loitering munition launcher for beyond-line-of-sight strikes.

Multiple-Layered Self-Protection

The tank employs three-layer self-protection including “an active layer to protect from anti-tank missiles and kinetic energy threats; a reactive layer to neutralize double shaped charge rounds that may get through; and finally a passive layer to stop any remaining elements,” according to Breaking Defense.

The KF51’s Top Attack Protection System guards against anti-tank weapons that strike a tank’s least protected turret section. Additionally, its ROSY smoke/obscurant system hides it from enemies, while its pre-shot detection capability can “recognize and neutralize threats at an early stage.” 

Open System Architecture

The tank’s open system architecture allows for additional sensor integration to detect adversary weapon launch signatures.

The platform is designed to be operated by a crew of three: commander, gunner, and driver. Additional space is available for a weapons and subsystems specialist at the operator station, the company wrote.

The tank has been built on the Leopard 2 tank chassis with a new turret and has a maximum range of 500 kilometers (311 miles).

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