Ground Warfare

Rheinmetall Receives Major Order for 120mm Tank Ammunition from German Armed Forces

German Army Leopard 2A6 Main Battle Tank
German Army Leopard 2A6 Main Battle Tank

The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) has expanded to €4 billion an existing framework agreement with Rheinmetall for the supply of tank ammunition. The order underscores Rheinmetall’s role as a major supplier of 120mm tank ammunition to the German armed forces. It also reflects the German military’s commitment to rebuilding its capabilities and increasing its ammunition stocks due to the new security situation. The framework agreement also encompasses a significant amount of tank ammunition for the Ukrainian armed forces. Based on the framework agreement just signed, the Bundeswehr could procure several hundred thousand rounds of 120mm x 570 cal. service and practice ammunition, the type fired for example by the Leopard 2 main battle tank. Worth around €309 million, a first call-off of ammunition came immediately after the contract was signed.

The scope of delivery includes multipurpose tank ammunition with a non-programmable fuse as well as another variant that can be programmed for three different ignition modes: detonation on impact with and without time delay, and a timed airburst function. The order also encompasses various types of practice ammunition featuring reduced range and lower cost, but which otherwise display comparable ballistic characteristics. The armed forces of Germany and several partner nations have entered framework contracts with Rheinmetall to secure a steady long-term supply of ammunition, which in turn enables better planning of the production process and optimum utilization of existing capacity. Owing to ongoing production of various types of ammunition during the lifetime of the contract and the resulting rapid availability, the framework contract offers clear logistical advantages.

Rheinmetall 120 mm tank ammunition.
Rheinmetall PELE and HE DM 11 120 mm tank ammunition. (Photo by Rheinmetall)

For many Leopard 2 user nations, Rheinmetall is the most important supplier of ammunition for the tank’s 120mm smoothbore main armament. Rheinmetall is one of the world’s leading suppliers of large-calibre weapons and ammunition. The company’s globally acclaimed smoothbore L44 and L55 tank guns combine tremendous firepower with a high first round hit probability, even when the tank is on the move. Particularly in the field of weapons and ammunition, recent technological breakthroughs have let Rheinmetall make a vital contribution to the unsurpassed combat effectiveness of the Leopard Main Battle Tank. For many Leopard 2 user nations, Rheinmetall is the most important supplier of ammunition for the tank’s 120mm smoothbore main armament.

The Leopard 2 is a third generation German main battle tank (MBT). Developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s, the tank entered service in 1979 and replaced the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the West German Army. The primary armament for production versions of the Leopard 2 is the Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun—the same gun later adapted for use on the M1 Abrams—in either the L/44 variant (found on all production Leopard 2s until the A5), or the L/55 variant (as found on the Leopard 2A6 and subsequent models). Ammunition for the gun comprises 27 rounds stored in a special magazine in the forward section of the hull, to the left of the driver’s station, with an additional 15 rounds stored in the left side of the turret bustle, which is separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically operated door.

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