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Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther)

Main Battle Tank (MBT) Concept / Prototype [ 2027 ]

The German-originated Rheinmetall KF51 Panther sees itself as the future of the Main Battle Tank on the ever-evolving battlefield.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/14/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The KF51 "Panther" Main Battle Tank (MBT) is the Rheinmetall vision future armored warfare. The vehicle was exhibited at Eurosatory 2022 promising a radical new approach to tank design bringing many established elements concerning protection, performance, and lethality into a single package. The vehicle is ambitious to be sure and would take considerable convincing for global warplanners to accept an expensive "do-everything" modern combat tank design in an age where such systems appear to be losing their inherent tactical battlefield value with each passing month due to the Ukrainian-Russian War of 2022.

The name "Panther" is most likely derived from the original German Panther tank of World War 2 (1939-1945) detailed elsewhere on this site.

The 61-ton (short) vehicle is given a largely conventional arrangement with a low-profile hull driven by tracks and a 360-degree traversing turret seated above the hull roof line. The turret is noticeably larger than contemporary designs, taking up nearly all of the hull's surface area from side-to-side and front-to--back. The track-and-wheel arrangement includes seven rubber-tired roadwheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at rear and the track idler at front. The upper reaches of the track link units are protected by side-skirt armor. The powerpack is installed at the rear of the hull and offers an operational range out to 500 kilometers.

Main armament is a 130mm /L52 smoothbore "Future Gun System" (FGS) with enhanced capabilities over the West's standard 120mm types and is fully-aided by an all-modern digital Fire Control System (FCS) coupled to advanced sensors for quick response times and accurate on-target shooting even while on-the-move. A programmable automatic loader mechanism ensures proper projectile selection / exchange and an elevated rate-of-fire with twenty ready-to-fire projectiles available from the 130mm stock. "Loitering ammunitions" also gives this tank a Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) capability lacking in most modern combat tank designs through the HERO 120 loitering munitions system.

A 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) is installed co-axially to the main gun as a light armor-defeating and anti-infantry / suppression measure. The weapon can be managed internally or externally and has access to 250 ready-to-fire rounds from its ammunition container. ©MilitaryFactory.com
Beyond this is support over the rear of the turret for a roof-mounted Remote Weapon Station (RWS) mounting various anti-infantry, anti-aircraft, and anti-drone solutions. This includes a fully-automated 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) with a stock of 2,500 x 7.62mm ammunition. A self-screening effect is made possible by the fully-integrated digital ROSY "smoke obscurance" system.

Protection is through general construction of the hull as well as add-on active / reactive armor and active / passive electronic protection against incoming armor-defeating missiles with attention also paid to "top-down" attacks through the Rheinmetall TAPS (Top Attack Protection System). The very shallow glacis plate and various angled faces give the tank basic ballistics protection from small-, medium-, and large-caliber fire.

Because of the standard autoloader and various other internal automation systems, the tank has a reduced crew of three from the typical Western tank operating crew of four personnel - this is a quality had with Soviet-era and modern Russian tank designs for decades. A single crewman (gunner) takes up a position in the turret while the remaining two (driver, commander / associate) are positioned side-by-side in the bow.

The vehicle commander is given access to the SEOSS 2 series commander's sighting device. This component features a multi-spectral camera system as well as in-built laser-rangefinder. Similarly, the gunner has access to the EMES gunner's sight at the turret's front-right for accurized at-range target selection and firing. The tank also has the ability to launch and support its own collection of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems = UASs (today known as "wingmen") and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs).

Should the KF51 design come to pass and be an accepted part of the new battlefield going forward - one, as shown clearly through the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian War, increasingly dominated by Anti-Tank, Guided-Missiles (ATGMs) and airborne attack drones - the system will truly revolutionize the warzone though this remains to be seen.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Germany national flag graphic

Program in Progress.

National flag of modern Germany Germany (possible)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Main Battle Tank (MBT)
Primary armored ground combat unit of modern armies utilizing speed, protection, and / or firepower to spearhead armored assaults.
Frontline Asset
Frontline unit used to take direct part in forward operating actions against enemy positions / targets.
Engage armored vehicles of similar form and function.

Track-and-Wheel Arrangement
Vehicle utilizes a track-and-wheel arrangement to provide enhanced cross-country travel capability.
Primary Turret
A modern tank quality, this vehicle sports its main armament in a single turret.
Remote Weapon Station (RWS)
Vehicle supports a remote-operated weapons station, reducing crew exposure to outside dangers.
Traversable Main Armament
Armament is situated in a traversing component, allowing for all-around engagement of enemy threats.
Recoil Enhancement
Main weapon has an integral recoil mechanism, allowing the system to remain trained-on-target after firing.
Firing On-the-Move
A modern quality, onboard systems provide accuracy to primary armament allowing for firing on-the-move.
The main gun system includes an autoloading feature that reduces the crew commitment.
Cross-Country Capability
Design includes such features as a track-link system or high ground clearance to better traverse offroad.
Angled Armor
Angled armor at key facings adds inherent ballistics protection to the vehicle.
Shallow Glacis
The shallow design of the glacis plate provides the vehicle with inherent ballistics protection as well as contributes to a lower overall profile - making it more difficult to disable.
Enhanced Armor Protection
Protection is enhanced by way of additional armor being installed over that of standard levels; plate steel for older designs and reactive armor for modern types.
Armored Skirt
Additional protection to the upper track reaches and roadwheels is achieved by way of addon armored skirts along the sides of the hull.
NBC Protection
Crew is provided (either as standard or optional) protection against Nuclear-Biological-Chemical agents for enhanced survivability in contaminated zones.
Smoke Screening
Vehicle has capability to self-generate a smoke screen, either through launched grenades or built-in engine funtion (raw fuel injection).
Crew has access to night-vision equipment, allowing for low-light or night time operations.
Anti-Aircraft / Air-Defense Capable
System is given an anti-aircraft defense component to protect itself from low-flying aerial threats at range.
Anti-Tank Capable
Onboard solution provides ability to neutralize armored or fortified targets at range through missile or penetrating ballistic weapons.
Vehicle features an in-built anti-infantry capability for local defense of the vehicle or general troop suppression.
Remote Weapons Station
Vehicle supports an unmanned weapons station controlled remotely from within the safety of the vehicle.

130,073 lb
59,000 kg
65.0 tons
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Rheinmetall KF51 production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
1 x 130mm /L52 smoothbore main gun in front turret face with autoloader functionality.
1 x 12.7mm coaxial Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) in front turret face.
1 x 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) in Remote Weapon Station (RWS) on turret roof.
ROSY Smoke Obscurance system (smoke screen generator).
Rheinmetall TAPS (Top Attack Protection System) on turret roof.
HERO 120 loitering munitions system.
Integrated UAV/UGV support.

Supported Types

Graphical image of a tank cannon armament
Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun
Graphical image of a tank heavy machine gun
Graphical image of tank /armored vehicle smoke grenade dischargers

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
35 x 130mm protections (estimated; 20 ready-to-fire).
500 x 12.7mm ammunition (estimated, 250 ready-to-fire).
2,500 x 7.62mm ammunition for RWS emplacement.

KF51 "Panther" - Base Series Designation.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther)
Image from official Rheinmetall marketing materials.


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