MGCS tank boasts versatility with innovative 140mm cannon firepower

On the 26th of April, a pivotal Memorandum of Understanding was signed between France and Germany. The agreement initiated the next phase of the Franco-German MGCS [Main Ground Combat System] tank’s development. This project reveals crucial details about the tank’s weaponry, primarily the potential inclusion of either a 130mm or 140mm gun. 

MGCS tank boasts versatility with innovative 140mm cannon firepower
Photo credit: Nexter

The German-developed 130mm [L-51] gun provides a stark contrast to France’s 140mm [ASCALON] offering. Considering the diverse needs of the users, the upcoming tank’s turret is likely to be designed to accommodate either of the two guns. We observe that the MGCS is expected to replace the Leopard-2 and Leclerc starting in 2035. 

The foundational principle of ASCALON rests on innovation and openness to new inputs, including the advent of emerging technologies. The 140mm caliber significantly enhances the range, allowing targeting beyond visual contact [BLOS/NLOS: Beyond Line of Sight/Out of Line of Sight], while also escalating the force of its impact.

Italy-seeks-MBT,-Franco-German-MGCS-with-130mm-cannon-is-an-option-2
Photo credit: InfoDefensa

A technologically advanced weapon

A greater attack range indeed signals improved security for our hypothetical tanker, enabling them to neutralize opposition from a safe distance. The ASCALON ammunition, with a max length of 130cm, will be housed in an automatic loading system – a technology currently in use by Leclerc. 

An approximate calculation of the energy generated by the gun is around 10-megajoules, with the capability to handle 13-megajoules kinetic energy ammunition. Interestingly, the internal pressure exerted by this artillery equals that of the 120mm guns. 

Italy seeks MBT, Franco-German MGCS with 130mm cannon is an option
Photo credit: Jane’s

The creators at Nexter are confident that this level of performance elevates ASCALON to a technologically advanced option, ready for challenges many years into the future. Distinctively, ASCALON significantly reduces recoil, mainly due to innovative usage of a bridle, externally controlled pressure field, and well-adjusted rate of thrust during discharges. Consequently, troops in the vicinity of the tank need not worry about harm or unease due to ASCALON firing – a critical factor in urban warfare scenarios.

MGCS

The Franco-German Main Ground Combat System [MGCS] symbolizes a collaborative venture between France and Germany to design and manufacture a new generation of superior battle tanks. This project represents a part of their broader initiative to unify their defense sectors and promote a stronger military alliance. The MGCS is projected to replace the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks by the mid-2030s. 

Italy seeks MBT, Franco-German MGCS with 130mm cannon is an option
Photo credit: Meta-Defense.fr

Due to the ongoing developmental phase of the project, the exact dimensions of the MGCS have not been released to the public yet. Nevertheless, it’s expected to align closely with the current main battle tanks, typically measuring about 10 meters in length, 3.5 meters in width, and an estimated height of 2.5 meters. 

Because precise technical details of the MGCS are undisclosed, they remain largely unknown. However, forecasts indicate that the tank will be fitted with advanced armor protection, possibly incorporating a blend of composite materials and reactive armor. In addition to this, it is likely to be equipped with a state-of-the-art fire control system to boost its accuracy and target acquisition capabilities.

Expected power plant

German Leopard 2A7 tanks will be produced in Hungary - Russia
Photo credit: Dzen.ru

The MGCS is expected to be powered by a high-performance engine, possibly a turbocharged diesel engine, providing a top speed of around 70 km/h and a cross-country speed of 45 km/h. The propulsion system will likely be designed for high mobility and agility, enabling the tank to operate effectively in various terrains. 

The operational range of the MGCS is yet to be confirmed. However, it is likely to be comparable to current main battle tanks, which typically have an operational range of 350 to 500 kilometers. This range can be extended with additional fuel tanks or by refueling.

Both armies

Leopard 2A7HU technologically superior tanks in the Bundeswehr
Photo credit: Hungarian Defense Forces

In the German Army, the main battle tank currently in service is the Leopard 2. This tank, produced by Krauss-Maffei, first entered service in 1979 and has been continuously upgraded since then. The most recent version, the Leopard 2A7, is considered one of the most advanced tanks globally, with improvements in armor, firepower, and electronics. 

The German Army also employs the Puma, an infantry fighting vehicle that can be categorized as a light tank. The Puma, which entered service in 2010, is known for its modular design. This characteristic allows it to adapt to different missions, and it is renowned for its advanced protection systems. 

Moving to France, the main battle tank in service in the French Army is the Leclerc. Developed by Nexter Systems, the Leclerc first entered service in 1992. It is renowned for its high level of automation and integration, which reduces the crew size to three, and its powerful 120mm smoothbore gun. 

Macron asked for an instruction to transfer Leclerc tanks to Ukraine
Photo credit: National Interest

France also makes use of the AMX-10 RC, a light reconnaissance vehicle that can be considered a light tank. The AMX-10 RC, which entered service in 1981, is equipped with a 105mm gun and is known for its speed and mobility.

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