Non-standard caliber, high armor penetration, automatic loading – the German defense concern Rheinmetall published a video of tests of the modernized Challenger 2 tank with a new 130-mm L51 gun, which can become the most powerful NATO tank gun. Some experts have already called L51 the “Armata killer.” In their opinion, the projectile fired from it will easily pierce the armor of the latest Russian tank Т-14. Free News understood whether this was so.
Gun with ambitions
For the first time, a new gun was presented at the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris in 2016. Rheinmetall specialists did not think to hide that this is the answer to Russia’s appearance of combat vehicles on the Armata platform. It is believed that the 120-mm guns in service with NATO countries will not be able to hit the armor of such tanks effectively. German gunsmiths tried to solve the problem by increasing the caliber and creating lines of high-power ammunition.
Landfill tests L51 started last year. By November, about 80 shells had already been fired from the gun. According to the developer, all the declared characteristics were confirmed. A barrel made of high-strength steel, a vertical wedge bolt, and chambers of increased volume allows the use of an enhanced charge. As a result, the initial velocity of the projectile and armor penetration increases. The length of the barrel reaches 6.63 meters; the total weight of the gun is about three tons.
Especially for L51, Rheinmetall developed the APFSDS-T armor-piercing sub-caliber projectile with a detachable pallet, a high-energy powder charge, and an improved tungsten core. At the request of the customer, a loading machine can be installed in the carrier tank.
It is known that this gun is planned to arm German tanks Leopard-2 and promising Franco-German MGCS. Also, Rheinmetall is going to offer L51 to the Americans for the next-generation combat vehicles Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV). However, it is still unknown when the gun will be thoroughly tested and adopted. This is not a quick process.
Cover the perimeter
Meanwhile, despite the optimistic statements of Rheinmetall specialists, it is far from a fact that the Armata will turn out to be this tool in the teeth. Т-14 is the most invulnerable fighting vehicle in the world. The first line of defense is the Afghanit Active Defense Complex (ADC), which detects and destroys anti-tank ammunition on the fly.
The “eyes” of the complex are a complex bundle of four panels of pulse-Doppler radar, ultraviolet direction finders, and infrared cameras of a circular view. Unlike the Western-made ADCs, Afghanit can detect not only relatively slow anti-tank guided missiles but also armor-piercing feathered sub-caliber shells.
Seeing the approaching ammunition, the complex automatically activates several systems at once. If the tank attacks a missile controlled by the radio channel, the signal is muffled by standard electronic warfare equipment. Then Afghanit sets up the so-called smoke metal screen, which makes it difficult to visually detect the tank and defeat it with a rocket with an infrared homing head.
In case of a threat, the Armata tower turns to it with its forehead. And if it was not possible to deceive the ammunition at a long distance, special mortars come into play. They shoot special charges towards the target, destroying it with fragments. The same mortars reliably cover the Т-14 from enemy BOPS and are able, if not to damage the shell, to knock it off course.
If “Afghanit” for some reason did not neutralize the approaching ammunition, the second line of defense comes into play – the dynamic defense of “Malachite.” Mounted containers with explosives, when in contact with anti-tank ammunition, initiate an oncoming directed explosion. This minimizes damage not only from a cumulative grenade or rocket but also from an armor-piercing tank shell.
Strong forehead “Armata”
The last line of defense is armor. Developers of a tank claim that the composite case T-14 won’t be punched not bluntly by any anti-tank guided missile of caliber to 150 millimeters, including TOW, Javelin (both are the USA), Spike (Israel) and also all types of shoulder anti-tank launchers. Besides, the forehead of the tank will withstand at least 120 mm shells.
The engine compartment, ammunition, and fuel compartments are isolated from each other by armored bulkheads, which increases the chances of survival if the armor is punched. And the uninhabited tower is covered with a particular casing that protects complex electronic devices from bullets and fragments.
Ammunition, according to the developer, is located in the aft of the tower, as on the German Leopard-2 or the Israeli Merkava. During its detonation, the primary energy of the explosion goes out through special bouncer panels. This will keep the tank from great destruction. However, there is no exact data on the reservation of the tower, since its design and appearance without a protective casing are classified.