Home Tech Rheinmetall Unveils KF51-U Main Battle Tank with Autonomous Turret

Rheinmetall Unveils KF51-U Main Battle Tank with Autonomous Turret

Panther KF51 von Rheinmetall

At the Eurosatory arms fair in Paris, German arms company Rheinmetall showcased a new variant of its KF51 Panther tank, featuring an unmanned turret and automatic loading. This improved version, known as the KF51-U, has been significantly enhanced compared to the original KF51 prototype presented in 2022. Like the KF51, the KF51-U is still a prototype, and Rheinmetall has not yet issued a press release on the new tank.

The KF51-U’s unmanned turret and automatic loading system aim to address the limitations of the original manned turret, which was criticized for its size, weight, and vulnerability. The new design features a crew of three, who sit together in the hull in front of the turret, with the autoloader responsible for ammunition supply from two magazines in the rear of the turret.

The KF51-U retains the 130mm cannon, coaxial 12.7mm machine gun, and weapon station with a rotating machine gun and smoke grenade launcher, as well as the ability to launch reconnaissance drones. The tank’s weight is estimated to be between 50 and 60 tons, making it significantly lighter than the current Leopard 2.

To compensate for the loss of the commander’s view from the turret, the KF51-U is equipped with various sensors to provide the crew with a comprehensive situational awareness. Hardkill systems are also installed for self-protection, with the weapon station’s machine gun likely taking over drone defense.

The automatic loading system is necessary due to the increasing caliber of the on-board gun and the associated weight of the ammunition. This system ensures that projectiles are loaded correctly and does not recognize those that are too heavy.

Unmanned turrets are becoming increasingly common, with the Puma infantry fighting vehicle also featuring this design. The heavy infantry weapon carrier, on the other hand, has a manned turret.

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