After a four year gap, Eurosatory 2022 opened with a raft of new developments including the unveiling of the Rheinmetall Panther KF51 main battle tank (MBT).
This was developed as a private venture and has already carried out limited mobility trials as well as initial unmanned firing trials. The key feature of the Panther KF51 is its brand new turret which is armed with the latest Rheinmetall 130mm L/52 Future Gun System (FGS) fed by an automatic loader developed by Rheinmetall Air Defence. It comprises two rotary magazines each of which hold 10 rounds of 120mm ammunition.
The secondary armament consists of a 12.7mm co-axial machine gun (MG) while mounted on the roof is a Rheinmetall Natter remote weapon station (RWS) armed with a 7.62mm MG. If required, one of the pods of 10x130mm rounds can be replaced by a pod of four HERO loitering munition to provide a non-line of sight capability.
The computerised fire control system (FCS) pulls though from Rheinmetall’s extensive experience in this key area on new platforms such as the Lynx IFV for Hungary, Boxer reconnaissance vehicle for Australia and more recently the FCS for the British Army Challenger 3 Life Extension programme for which RBSL is the prime contractor.
The Panther KF52 has a high level of battlefield survivability and features conventional steel armour, advanced armour, and reactive armour over its enlarged frontal arc and an active protection system that operates through 360 degrees against not only large calibre kinetic energy (KE) projectiles but also anti-tank weapons fitted with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead.
Other features include cameras for situational awareness through 360 degrees, an auxiliary power unit and space next to the driver for an additional crew member which could be a troop commander, for example, or help process the vast amount of information coming into the platform from a variety of sources.
by Christopher F. Foss