German defense company Rheinmetall has unveiled a prototype of a 130mm smoothbore gun for a future main battle tank (MBT). Combined with a state-of-the-art auto-loader, this system is the latest evolvement in Rheinmetall’s, Main Battle Tank Advanced Technologies competence. According to the company, the increase of 8 percent in caliber results in 50 percent more kinetic energy over the 120mm smoothbore gun from Rheinmetall, installed in thousands of main battle tanks worldwide. The 130mm developmental cannon delivers leap ahead capabilities in lethality for next generation main battle tanks.
A MBT equipped with the 130mm cannon would be capable of successfully engaging better-protected opponents at greater ranges with superior firepower. Rheinmetall developed its 130mm main gun technology demonstrator to address the emerging necessity of gaining significant performance enhancements against modern armored vehicles. The 130mm live fire demonstrator has completed developmental efforts that have showcased superior energy and output performance when compared to the standard 120mm L55/L55A1 cannon in a direct live fire test with modern targets. The 130mm/L51 smoothbore gun weighs (without mounting components) 3,000 kilograms with a barrel length of 6.63 meters.
The 130mm smoothbore gun comes as Russia adopts a new generation of armored vehicles including the Armata MBT. Rheinmetall to feature Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) program 130mm smoothbore gun. US Army is exploring concepts to replace the Abrams main battle tank fleet including considering manned and unmanned tank variants; larger armaments; next generation munitions; and unmanned turrets. Rheinmetall is also developing an unmanned 130mm demonstrator turret featuring automated ammunition flow. This system will be compatible with the European Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) project and can serve as a combat performance upgrade to all Leopard 2 user nations.
Rheinmetall is the main developer and manufacturer of 120mm smooth bore weapon systems in service today on the Leopard Main Battle Tank and the US Army Abrams Main Battle Tanks (via license to the US Army). In the case of the Leopard, Rheinmetall also developed and supplied the ammunition for the smooth bore 120mm cannon. Continuously improving the performance of 120mm tank gun and ammunition technology has long been one of Rheinmetall’s highest priorities. For now, Rheinmetall may set a similar worldwide benchmark for the 130mm gun as happened with the 120mm smoothbore gun, which in its short barrel version was also produced under licence in the US for the Abrams MBT.