German Arms Maker Rheinmetall Offers Ukraine Its New Panther Kf51 Tank

  • Outstanding German protection company Rheinmetall is providing Ukraine its new Panther Kf51 tank.
  • The Kf51 would leapfrog the opposite older Western-made tanks which are being despatched to Ukraine.
  • Whilst the Kf51 has complicated features, its newness would possibly create extra complications for the Ukrainians.

Whilst Ukraine waits at the older Abrams and Leopard tanks that america and Eu international locations have promised to ship, it will be able to shop for a state of the art German tank.

Obtaining the next-generation Panther Kf51 would give Ukraine the danger to leapfrog the older tanks that Western donors are sending — as smartly the most commonly Chilly Battle-era tanks that Ukraine already makes use of — however taking up an unproven automobile may just additional tax Ukraine’s army because it struggles to include older Western tank fashions.

Rheinmetall, the distinguished German hands company that evolved the Kf51, turns out assured the theory may just paintings. Its CEO, Armin Papperger, advised German trade newspaper Handelsblatt that the Panther might be brought to Ukraine “in 15 to 18 months.”

“We’re chatting with Kyiv about exporting the Panther,” Papperger mentioned. Curiously, Papperger mentioned that Ukraine had additionally expressed pastime Rheinmetall’s next-generation Lynx infantry combating automobile.

Rheinmetall Panther KF51 main battle tank

An indication of Rheinmetall’s Panther KF51.

Rheinmetall Defence

Rheinmetall is reportedly negotiating with Ukraine to construct a tank manufacturing facility there, despite the fact that it isn’t transparent whether or not it might produce the Panther or the older Leopard 2 tank.

The Kf51 Panther is a brand new tank with some previous options. Its hull is in response to the Leopard 2, which debuted in 1979. However the turret accommodates Rheinmetall’s next-generation Long term Gun Machine, a 130 mm smoothbore cannon that replaces the usual 120 mm discovered on Western tanks such because the M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, and the Challenger 2.

The Panther additionally has complicated options, together with launchers for HERO 120 loitering munitions that give the tank an on-board kamikaze drone capacity. Refined networking features permit it to be built-in into detect-and-shoot kill chains and the power to keep an eye on “wingman” unmanned flooring cars that supply features “akin to platoon-level air and drone protection,” in keeping with Rheinmetall, which describes the Panther as a “in point of fact software-defined tank.”

Rheinmetall offered the Panther at a Paris industry honest remaining summer season and “touted it because the most powerful fight tank on the planet,” in keeping with Handelsblatt.

German Leopard 2 main battle tank

A German Leopard 2 tank in Munster in Would possibly 2019.

Christophe Gateau/image alliance by way of Getty Pictures

Two sides of the Kf51 stand out. One is the autoloader that replaces the team member who quite a bit shells into the primary gun, enabling the tank to have a team of 3 somewhat that the 4 most often present in Western tanks. (Russian tanks additionally use an autoloader for a team of 3.)

Just like the next-generation Abrams tank, the Panther’s turret will also be unmanned, with its team running the automobile at the back of the thicker armor of the tank’s hull.

Most likely no longer coincidentally, an unmanned turret and on-board drones also are a characteristic of Russia’s next-generation T-14 Armata tank, which first seemed in 2014. Russia’s military has most effective purchased a couple of T-14s, in all probability on account of the prime worth in addition to manufacturing and mechanical problems. The Kremlin additionally seems reluctant to devote T-14s to battle in Ukraine.

Additionally it is notable that the Panther has a battle weight of simply 59 lots. That is lighter than the most recent Leopard 2A7, which is 67 lots, and Abrams and Challenger, which weigh 70 to 80 lots, either one of which Ukraine is slated to obtain. Lighter cars can extra simply move bridges or muddy terrain, which can be key issues on Ukrainian battlefields.

Rheinmetall Panther KF51 main battle tank

An indication of the Panther KF51.

Rheinmetall Defence

However tank design is set tradeoffs, particularly with regards to weight.

One reason why the Kf51 is slimmer is as a result of similar to the Leopard 2, it’s not as thickly armored because the Abrams and Challenger. As an alternative of cumbersome armor plate, the Panther is based extra on energetic and passive coverage programs, akin to jammers, smokescreens, and projectiles to break incoming anti-tank rockets.

There’s no doubt that Ukraine wishes extra tanks. Russia has misplaced virtually 2,000 tanks because the battle started a yr in the past, in keeping with a tally by means of the open-source web page Oryx, however Ukraine has misplaced virtually 500 tanks.

Whilst Ukraine has been ready to refill some losses by means of placing greater than 500 captured Russian tanks into provider, it’s nonetheless going to wish overseas cars because the Soviet-era designs it had prior to the battle are destroyed or wiped out.

Nevertheless, one attention for Ukraine — and any overseas donors who would subsidize its acquire — is that no army has but purchased the Kf51.

Even the most productive new guns have teething issues. If Ukraine turns into the primary to box the Panther, then it is going to grow to be the primary to maintain the inevitable insects. With all of the demanding situations that Ukraine already faces, that is a big gamble.

Michael Peck is a protection author whose paintings has seemed in Forbes, Protection Information, Overseas Coverage mag, and different publications. He holds a grasp’s in political science. Observe him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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