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Military


Panther KF51 main battle tank

The June 2022 return of the world exhibition dedicated to land armaments Eurosatory 2022, 4 years after the last edition in 2018, was an opportunity for Rheinmetall and the KNDS group of Nexter and Krauss Maffei Wegman to engage in a duel, each presenting a new generation tank demonstrator, the new KF51 Panther for Rheinmetall, and a new version of the EMBT for KNDS.

According to Rheinmetall, the new 130mm gun would prove to be 50% more effective than the one that equips the Leopard 2 today (without specifying whether it is the L/44 or the L/55). For its protection, the Panther relies on Rheinmetall's StrikeShield hard-kill active protection system, all implemented in an advanced open architecture by a 3-member crew. In this configuration, the KF51 reaches a mass of 65 tons, certainly less than the more than 70 tons of the Leopard 2A7, Abrams M1A2 and other Challenger 2, but far from the classification of "medium tank" which Rheinmetall tries to dress up its demonstrator in its communication.

The Panther KF51 (Kettenfahrzeug 51) is the first of its kind: a radically new MBT concept not constrained by yesterday’s technology. Drawing on some of the latest technologies, the Panther was designed from the ground up to deliver the

  • highest lethality on the battlefield, combined with an
  • integrated survivability concept and connected by a
  • fully digitised NGVA data backbone to enable
  • next-generation operational capabilities and automation.

This enables a reduction in crew size, which paves the way for unmanned turret options and Human-Machine Teaming.

Highly lethal with unrivalled lethality overmatch with the 130 mm Future Gun System (FGS) and optimised sensor-to-shooter links. The first MBT adopting an integrated survivability concept of on and off-platform sensors coupled with active, reactive and passive protection and a dedicated top attack protection system. The first for an MBT: The Panther is designed around a digital architecture complying with the NGVA standard. This is the key enabler for future decision support and automation systems.

The Panther fulfils the core capability of “dominate and destroy”. With the Rheinmetall Future Gun System consisting of a 130 mm cannon, a fully automated ammunition handling system and the additional armament options of the HERO 120 loitering ammunition, the Panther has concentrated firepower for long-range strikes in multi-target engagements.

Rarely has the sheer power of an MBT gun been more impressive. The Future Gun System, developed by Rheinmetall, enables a 50 per cent longer kill range to be achieved (than 120 mm) with an unrivalled rate of fire due to the autoloader performance. A 12.7 mm co-axial machine gun complements the main gun. Multiple Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) integration options give flexibility in proximity and drone defence. The optional HERO 120 loitering ammunition capability expands the Panther’s strike capability to non-line-of-sight targets and can be mounted depending on role and mission requirements.

All weapons are connected with targeting sights and the fire control computer through the fully digitised architecture, allowing for hunter-killer and killer-killer operation, seamless target engagements and future AI decision support.

The Panther employs a ground-breaking, fully integrated, comprehensive, weight-optimised survivability concept. In addition to classic measures, the Panther’s digital architecture enables on and off-board survivability, with active, reactive and passive protection technologies.

The Panther is configured with a pre-shot detection capability, enabling it to strike first. Threats from above are defeated by the Rheinmetall TAPS (Top Attack Protection System). The ROSY smoke obscurance system is provided as part of the survivability system, which fully integrates with the digitised architecture to allow additional defence measures. The standout survivability feature is undoubtedly the active KE protection, which increases protection levels without affecting the system weight.

As a system designed to operate in a contested electromagnetic spectrum, the Panther is fully cyber hardened.

The combat weight of just 59 tonnes provides far greater mobility than current systems. This puts it in a battle-winning weight category and it also fits the tunnel profile AMovP-4L without preparation: a requirement that no current MBT upgrade fulfils. Consequently, the Panther excels in tactical and strategic mobility.

The Panther is a truly software-defined tank fully enabled to collect and disseminate information on the multi-domain battlefield. Deep integration of modern BMS and software-defined communication systems enables forces to operate in collaborative combat environments such as cross-platform sensor-to-shooter links.

The Panther is designed to control assigned unmanned aerial vehicles such as on-board or off-board drones, loitering ammunition and a range of uncrewed ground vehicles. The fully digitised system and common crew stations are the enablers for true Human-Machine Teaming and control of wingman UGVs that cover capabilities such as platoon-level air and drone defence.

Based on the needs of the crew, workstations are unmatched in their integration. The Panther is designed for a crew of three, supporting future force structures with reduced numbers of soldiers. Two crew stations are located in the chassis, with one dedicated to the driver and an optional station dedicated to a company commander, a drone operator or a wingman pilot.

The fully digitised NGVA architecture allows for seamless sensor and effector integration both within the platform and cross-platform. Sensor and weapon control assignments can be passed between crew members instantly. Each workstation can hand over and take over tasks and roles from others with no reduction of functionality. As the turret and weapons control are also provided to the chassis based work stations, future upgrades being planned include unmanned turrets and remotely operated Panthers.

With the Panther, a completely new MBT concept is being brought to life: one that is not limited by considerations of current MBTs. It is designed from the ground up so that it can be easily updated and equipped with the latest capabilities and features. The NGVA modular open-system architecture enables spiral development that can be regularly updated in line with innovation cycles. The Panther is the first of a new MBT family. In the near future, there will be further innovations that support environmentally friendly peacetime operations and further optimisation in terms of automation and effectiveness.





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Page last modified: 14-06-2022 19:35:53 ZULU