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

Like the SCAF next-generation combat aircraft program, the Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS, program, aimed at designing the replacement for the German Leopard 2 and French Leclerc tanks, is encountering many difficulties. In addition to the deep doctrinal differences which oppose in the specifications between the Army and the Bundeswehr, the industrial sharing between the main actors, the German Rheinmetall on the one hand, and the groups Nexter and Krauss Maffei Wegman gathered in the KNDS group on the other, is also the subject of intense tension. Indeed, the Munich group, which is also very politically connected with the Bundestag, the German parliament, is not at all satisfied with the 3 pillars entrusted to it out of the 9 that make up the MGCS program, and considers that it should to have a much greater hold on it, which, of course, is not at all in the opinion of KNDS and its two founding groups.

In fact, the return of the world 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 speckled foil duel, each presenting a tank demonstrator new generation combat aircraft, the new KF51 Panther for Rheinmetall, and a new version of the EMBT for KNDS, which was already one of the major attractions at the previous edition of Eurosatory, while the work around the MGCS is stalling. Because through these demonstrators, each industrial group intends not only to position itself on a rapid recovery in demand for combat tanks, which occurs well before the 2040 deadline for the MGCS, but also to demonstrate its own capabilities for impose itself on this market, so as to redefine the balance of power within the European program, even to call into question its foundations and relevance.

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 as of the EMBT are relatively close. In both cases, it is a classic hull inspired by that of the leopard 2 and powered by a 1500 hp engine, surmounted by a new generation turret. For the KF51, baptized Panther by Rheinmetall, it is a turret whose shape is reminiscent of that of the futurist, but not that efficient, KF41 Lynx, armed with a new self-loading 130 mm smoothbore cannon, a coaxial machine gun as well as a launch system allowing the implementation of anti-tank missiles, as well as drones and above all ammunition wanderers Hero-120. 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 lower 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.

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