German armored vehicle specialist Rheinmetall has unveiled its new KF51 Panther battle tank at the Eurosatory 2022 defense exhibition in Paris, France.
The latest member of Rheinmetall’s family of tracked vehicles (KF is short for “Kettenfahrzeug”, i.e., tracked vehicle) features the 130mm Rheinmetall Future Gun System, a 12.7 mm coaxial machine gun and several options for the integration of remotely controlled weapon stations (RCWS).
The KF51 Panther presented at Eurosatory 2022 is equipped with Rheinmetall’s new “Natter” (adder) RCWS in the 7.62 variant.
All weapon systems are connected to the commander’s and gunner’s optics and the fire control computer via the fully digitalized NGVA architecture. Rheinmetall says this enables both a hunter-killer and a killer-killer function and thus instantaneous target engagement – in the future also supported by artificial intelligence (AI).
The Rheinmetall Future Gun System (FGS) consists of a 130 mm smoothbore gun and a fully automatic ammunition handling system. The autoloader holds 20 ready rounds. Compared to current 120 mm systems, Rheinmetall claims the FGS delivers over fifty percent greater effectiveness at significantly longer ranges of engagement. The FGS can fire kinetic energy (KE) rounds as well as programmable airburst ammunition and corresponding practice rounds.
The tank also supports the integration of a launcher for HERO 120 loitering munition from UVision into the turret, which enhances the KF51’s ability to strike targets beyond the direct line of sight.
Rheinmetall added that further armament options were available to provide concentrated firepower for long-range strikes and against multiple targets.
When it comes to survivability and force protection, the Panther has a fully integrated, comprehensive, weight-optimized protection concept, incorporating active, reactive and passive protection technologies.
The Top Attack Protection System (TAPS) wards off threats from above, while the fast-acting ROSY smoke/obscurant systems conceals the KF51 from enemy observation. The tank’s digital NGVA architecture enables integration of additional sensors for detecting launch signatures.
KF51 is designed for a three-person crew: the commander and gunner in the turret and the driver in the chassis, where an additional operator station is available for a weapons and subsystems specialist or for command personnel such as the company commander or battalion commander.
For reconnaissance and situational awareness purposes, the tank is equipped with the panoramic SEOSS optical sensor and EMES main combat aiming device. The commander and gunner are both able to observe and engage targets independently of each other, while a stabilized daylight and IR optic with integrated laser rangefinder is available to both. In addition, via a display in the fighting compartment, the crew has a 360°, round-the-clock view of the vehicle’s surroundings. Integrated, unmanned aerial reconnaissance systems enhance the crew’s situational awareness in built-up areas and in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle.
With an operational weight of 59 tons, the KF51 has a maximum operating range of around 500 kilometers.