MOSCOW, (BM) – Non-standard caliber, high armor penetration, automatic loader – the German defense concern Rheinmetall has published a video of testing a modernized Challenger 2 tank with a new 130 mm L51 cannon, which could become NATO’s most powerful tank weapon.
We announced this news on August 2 this year. Let us tell you more about the capabilities of the new tank gun through the opinion of Russian military specialists.
Some experts have already called the L51 “the killer of the“ Armata. ”In their opinion, the shell fired from it will easily pierce the armor of the newest Russian T-14 tank RIA Novosti investigated whether this is really so.
“Trunk” with ambition
For the first time, the new gun was presented at the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris in 2016. Rheinmetall specialists did not think to hide that this is a response to the appearance of Russian military vehicles on the Armata platform. It is believed that the 120-mm guns in service with NATO countries will not be able to effectively hit the armor of such tanks. German gunsmiths tried to solve the problem by increasing the caliber and creating a line of high-power ammunition.
Polygon tests of the prototype L51 started last year. By November, about 80 shells had already been fired from the cannon. According to the developer, all the stated characteristics were confirmed. The barrel, made of high-strength steel, vertical wedge breech and chambers of increased volume allow the use of a reinforced charge.
As a result, the muzzle velocity and armor penetration increase. The barrel length reaches 6.63 meters, the total weight of the gun is about three tons.
Especially for the L51, Rheinmetall has developed an APFSDS-T armor-piercing sub-caliber projectile with a detachable sump, a high-energy powder charge and an improved tungsten core. At the request of the customer, an automatic loader can be installed in the carrier tank.
It is known that it is planned to arm German Leopard-2 tanks and promising Franco-German MGCS with this gun. In addition, Rheinmetall intends to offer the L51 to the Americans for the next generation Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV). However, it remains to be seen when the gun will be fully tested and put into service. This is not a quick process.
Cover the perimeter
Meanwhile, despite the optimistic statements of Rheinmetall specialists, it is far from certain that the Armata will be too tough for this weapon. The T-14 is the world’s most invulnerable combat vehicle. The first line of defense is the Afghanit active protection complex (KAZ), which detects and destroys anti-tank ammunition while still approaching.
The “eyes” of the complex are a complex bundle of four panels of a pulsed-Doppler radar, ultraviolet direction finders and infrared all-round cameras. Unlike Western-made KAZ, the Afghanit is capable of detecting not only relatively slow anti-tank guided missiles, but also armor-piercing feathered subcaliber projectiles (BOPS).
Seeing the approaching ammunition, the complex automatically activates several systems at once. If a tank is attacked by a radio-controlled missile, the signal is jammed by standard electronic warfare equipment. Then “Afganit” puts the so-called smoke screen, which makes it difficult to visually detect the tank and hit it with a missile with an infrared homing head.
When a threat arises, the “Armata” tower turns its forehead towards it. And if it was not possible to deceive the ammunition at a long distance, special mortars come into play. They shoot special charges towards the target, destroying it with fragments. The same mortars reliably cover the T-14 from enemy BOPS and are capable of, if not destroying the projectile, then knocking it off course.
If the Afghanit, for some reason, did not neutralize the approaching ammunition, the second line of defense comes into play – the dynamic defense Malakhit. Hinged containers with explosives, upon contact with anti-tank munitions, initiate an oncoming directed explosion. This minimizes damage not only from a cumulative grenade or missile, but also from an armor-piercing tank shell.
Strong forehead “Armata”
The last line of defense is armor. The tank’s developers argue that the T-14’s composite hull will not be penetrated head-on by any anti-tank guided missile of caliber up to 150 millimeters, including TOW, Javelin (both from the USA), Spike (Israel), as well as all types of hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers. In addition, the front of the tank will withstand at least 120mm shells.
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The engine compartment, ammunition and fuel compartments are isolated from each other by armored bulkheads, which increases the chances of survival if the armor is pierced. And the uninhabited tower is covered with a special casing that protects complex electronic devices from bullets and shrapnel.
Ammunition, according to the developer, is located in the rear of the tower, as on the German “Leopard-2” or the Israeli “Merkava”. When it detonates, the main energy of the explosion goes out through special knockout panels. This will save the tank from much damage. However, there is no exact data on the armor of the tower, since its design and appearance without a protective casing are classified.
And although the tank’s protection systems have not yet been tested in a real battle, according to the head of the Uralvagonzavod brigade, the Armata has successfully passed the stage of “childhood diseases”. In total, by the end of 2021, the Russian army will receive 132 combat vehicles built on the new platform.
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