KF51 vs EMBT: Speckled foil duel between Rheinmetall and KNDS around the MGCS program

Like the FCAS new generation combat aircraft program, the Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS, program aims to design the replacement for tanks Leopard 2 Germans and French Leclerc, encountered many difficulties. In addition to the deep doctrinal differences which conflict in the specifications between the Army and the Bundeswehr, the industrial sharing between the main players, the German Rheinmetall on one side, and the Nexter and Krauss Maffei Wegman groups together in the KNDS group on the other, is also the subject of intense tensions. Indeed, the Munich group, which is also very politically involved with the Bundestag, the German parliament, is not at all satisfied with the 3 pillars which have been entrusted to it out of the 9 which constitute the MGCS program, and considers that it should have a much greater hold on it, which, naturally, is not at all in the opinion of KNDS and its two founding groups.

In fact, the return of the global exhibition dedicated to land armaments Eurosatory 2022, 4 years after the last edition in 2018, is an opportunity for the two groups to engage in a duel, each presenting a tank demonstrator. new generation fighter, the new KF51 Panther for Rheinmetall, and a new version of the EMBT for KNDS, even though it was already one of the major attractions during the previous edition of Eurosatory, while work around the MGCS is stalling. Because through these demonstrators, each industrial group intends not only to position itself on a rapid restart of demand for combat tanks which occurs well before the 2040 deadline of the MGCS, but also to demonstrate its own capabilities to impose itself on this market, so as to redefine the balance of power within the European program, or even to call into question its foundations and relevance.

IMG 0268 Germany | Defense Analysis | MBT battle tanks
The EMBT turret has been completely redesigned, to support a very innovative vision of the battle tank

At first glance, the concepts of the KF51 and the EMBT are relatively close. In both cases, it is a classic body inspired by that of the leopard 2 and powered by a 1500 hp engine, topped with a new generation turret. For the KF51, named Panther by Rheinmetall, it is a turret whose shape is reminiscent of that of the futuristic, but not that efficient, KF41 Lynx, armed with a new 130 mm smoothbore cannon with automatic loading, a coaxial machine gun as well as a launching system allowing the deployment of anti-tank missiles, as well as drones and especially ammunition Hero-120 wanderers. According to Rheinmetall, the new 130mm cannon would prove 50% more effective than the one equipping the Leopard 2 today (without specifying whether it is L/44 or L/55). For his protection, the Panther relies on Rheinmetall's hard-kill StrikeShield 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 tonnes, certainly lower than the more than 70 tonnes of the Leopard 2A7, Abrams M1A2 and other Challenger 2, but far from the “medium tank” classification that Rheinmetall is trying to label its demonstrator in its communication.


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