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Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther)

Main Battle Tank (MBT) Concept / Prototype

Germany | 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; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Rheinmetall KF51 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Concept / Prototype.

Installed Power
65 mph
105 kph
Road Speed
311 miles
500 km
The physical qualities of the Rheinmetall KF51 Main Battle Tank (MBT) Concept / Prototype.
130,073 lb
59,000 kg | 65.0 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther) Main Battle Tank (MBT) Concept / Prototype.
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.
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.
Nightvision - YES.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES, OPTIONAL.
Notable series variants as part of the Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther) family line.
KF51 "Panther" - Base Series Designation.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 5 Units

Contractor(s): Rheinmetall - Germany
National flag of modern Germany

[ Germany (possible) ]
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Image of the Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther)
Image from official Rheinmetall marketing materials.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Rheinmetall KF51 (Panther) Main Battle Tank (MBT) Concept / Prototype appears in the following collections:
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