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Eurosatory 2024: KF51-U with an Unmanned Turret from Rheinmetall

The German group Rheinmetall AG showcased a new version of the KF51 Panther tank with an unmanned turret in Paris, designated as the KF51-U.

At the Eurosatory 2024 trade fair, held from June 17-21 at the Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre, the German group Rheinmetall AG showcased a new version of the KF51 Panther tank with an unmanned turret, designated as the KF51-U.

Photos: Jakub Link-Lenczowski, MILMAG

The KF51-U is equipped with a new unmanned turret designated as CUT (Concept Uncrewed Turret). Its main armament is the new 130 mm Rheinmetall Rh-130/L52 smoothbore gun (initially L51). According to Rheinmetall AG CEO Armin Papperger’s statement on April 11, this gun is soon to enter production following the signing of a research and development agreement with an undisclosed client for the development of the production version along with its ammunition. The gun is coupled with an autoloader and an ammunition storage holding 25 rounds.

The turret is also equipped with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun coupled with the main gun and a remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) of the MSSA (Main Sensor Slaved Armament) type, featuring a three-barrel 7.62 mm Rheinmetall RMG762 machine gun. This system allows for continuous fire even if one of the gun barrels fails.

Crew members have access to day/night sights with integrated laser rangefinders. The gunner is equipped with a modern SEOSS 400 sight. Both the commander and the gunner can independently locate and track targets, and then designate and engage them in hunter-killer and killer-killer modes.

The KF51-U is also equipped with an electronic fire control system, a C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, & Intelligence) equipment package, and other sensor package elements, including a weather sensor. The Situational Awareness System (SAS) composed of cameras provides a high level of battlefield information to the crew. The tank can be integrated with both active (hard-kill) vehicle protection systems, such as the Active Protection System (StrikeShield) or Iron Fist from Elbit Systems, as well as passive (soft-kill) protection systems like the Rheinmetall MUSS (Multi Ammunition Softkill System) passive defense system and ROSY (Rapid Obscuring System) smoke grenade launchers.

The base technology demonstrator KF51 Panther was unveiled at the Eurosatory 2022 trade fair. The development of a new unmanned turret was also announced at that time.

In March 2023, the German group aimed to interest Ukraine in the new tank, and on December 15, 2023, an agreement worth approximately 288 million EUR (310 million USD) was signed with the Hungarian government for the certification and establishment of local production of the tank in the Panther KF51 EVO variant with a 120 mm Rh-120 L55A1 smoothbore gun.


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