German crew tank loads 120 mm shells into his Leopard 2A6 tank during the Strong Europe tank competition at the Grafenwer training ground in Germany
NATO’s main battle tanks must be prepared to cope with a wide range of objectives, ranging from new tanks developed in countries with equal technological level, to sniper groups in counterinsurgency operations. In response to new challenges, companies offer a range of projectiles that can handle them.
27 June 2017 of the year during combat shooting at the Grafenvör training ground in Germany two tank companies equipped with M1A2 tanks, from the 3 armored brigade of the American army fired almost 840 120-mm armor-piercing and universal projectiles, and also 40000 and XNXX 7,62, and also 12,7, and more XNUMX, and also XNUMX, and even XNXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXXNXXXNXXNXXNXXXNXXXXXXXG and XNUMX-mm machine guns.
“We spent a lot of time fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now we are once again focusing on restoring our skills and professional knowledge to fight equal rivals, if necessary, we are fully ready to go and fight, ”said the commander of one of the companies, Jonathan Klak.
During the Cold War, the main task of the main battle tanks (MBT), for example, the M1 Abrams, was to destroy other tanks, so the armies and manufacturers in the NATO countries accordingly gave priority to the development of armor-piercing shells to destroy potential enemy tanks. Russia and China continue to develop MBTs with advanced dynamic protection systems and active protection complexes, while the US Army and other allied armies continue to finance the development of improved armor-piercing shells.
However, the combat experience gained over the past 25 years in peacekeeping operations and the global war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq also gave impetus to the development of universal high-explosive and cumulative ammunition. They can be used on lightly armored targets and dismounted personnel (manpower), as well as to make gaps in the walls of fences, buildings and field fortifications of various types in order to ensure the passage of infantry.
The trend towards the development of new types of ammunition intensified even more after Israel’s 34-day war against Lebanon in 2006, when the Hezbollah group massively engaged foot soldiers armed with an ATGM and RPG against Israeli tanks. Of the 400 tanks involved in this war, the 48 vehicles were hit, the 40 was damaged and 20 got holes, and of the 114 killed, the Israeli 30 military people were crew members of the tanks.
The need to transport different types of ammunition to combat various threats creates a problem that the American army calls the “battlefield dilemma” —the tank commander must decide what type of ammunition should be fired into a cannon to hit the perceived threat. If the next attack is planned from the side of a dispersed calculation of ATGM at a close range, then a cluster projectile would be an adequate choice, however, this would be a wrong decision against an equal MBT at a long distance.
The tanks of most NATO countries and their allies are armed with 120-mm smooth-bore guns. Rheinmetall developed the 120-mm / 44 fecal smoothbore L44 gun for the MBT Leopard 2, the production of which began in the 1979 year. Leopard 2 tanks with a L44 gun are currently in service with 16 countries. The licensed version of the L44, the M256 cannon, is equipped with American tanks M1 manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, which are in service with the American army and the Marine Corps (ILC) and were sold to five countries. Italian X44 Ariete tanks produced by Oto Melara, Japanese 1 Tours from Mitsubishi and South Korean tanks X90X1 (licensed production of Hyundai Rotem) are also equipped with L1 cannon.
To upgrade the Leopard 2 tanks, Rheinmetall developed the 1991-mm / 120 cal for the L55 smoothbore cannon in 55, which is capable of hitting targets equipped with new protection technologies, such as composite and multi-layered armor. The L55 barrel on the 1,3 meter is longer than the L44 barrel, which allows you to get a greater initial speed and thus increase the range by about 1500 meters when firing the same projectile. In addition to tanks in the version of the Leopard 2A6, the Spanish Leopard 2E and the Greek Leopard 2HEL are equipped with a longer gun.
The US Army is the largest customer for 120-mm cannon ammunition, almost 2400 MBT M1 is in service and approximately 3500 machines are in storage. Since 1980 of the year, Orbital ATK has collaborated with the US Army as part of the 12 type 14 classification process for the current combat and practical projectiles for the M1 tank. She supplied more than 4 millions of 120-mm shells of the American Army and the Marine Corps (in operation of 450 M1-1 tanks) and six allied armies, which bought almost 2300 tanks.
In 2016, Orbital ATK began full-scale production of advanced armor-piercing piercing projectile (BOPS) for the M1 tank with the fifth-generation M829A4 tracer. According to the budget request of the US Army for 2018 year, М829А4 "was designed to penetrate advanced armor protection, in particular the elements of dynamic protection," while it has "significantly improved performance compared to the previously adopted ammunition."
The system consists of a core of depleted uranium, a fairing with reduced aerodynamic drag and stabilizing tail, all of which is fixed in a pallet made of composite material. New in the projectile is a throwing substance insensitive to temperature, the design of the core and the modified pan.
The next projectile being developed in the line is an advanced universal high-explosive fragmentation with tracer (АМР) / ХМ1147. In February, 2017, the company Orbital ATK received a contract worth 45 million dollars to complete the development and qualification of AMP. The contract also includes three options for the initial production in 2019 and 2020 years and full-scale production in the 2021 year, which can bring its value to 119 millions.
XM1147 universal ammo after shot
The current 120-mm tank ammunition of the American army consists mainly of specialized projectiles, each designed to counter targets of the same type. After adopting the new AMP projectile in 2021, it will replace four current types of projectiles: anti-tank cumulative M830; universal subcaliber М830А1, put into service in 1993 year to fight with helicopters; 1028 cassette for fighting infantry, equipped with 1000 tungsten balls, put into service in the 2005 year; and high-explosive fragmentation M908. intended for clearing large obstacles blocking the advancement of technology. As expected, reducing the number of types of tank shells in service will simplify logistics.
If the M830 is a true caliber cumulative projectile, then the M830A1 model is a sabot projectile.
The US Army needs impact on four types of targets: bunkers, light armor, concrete walls and infantry in open areas.
The AMP projectile operates in three modes: shock, delayed, and air exploded. The budget request for 2018 year explains that “AMP is a solution for punching concrete walls with double reinforcement and combating the ATGM calculations at distances from 50 to 2000 meters (threshold) and from 50 to 4500 meters (target) - a confirmed flaw , which at the moment can not be fixed with existing types of ammunition. "
“In addition to new capabilities, AMP will also combine the characteristics of four 120-mm projectiles in service, thereby resolving the combat logistics dilemma by using one projectile to hit different types of targets, including anti-tank missile systems, fortified walls, manpower, light armor, bunkers and artificial barriers. "
In order to fully use the capabilities of AMP and М829А4 projectiles, М1 tanks must be equipped with a data transmission system for ammunition ADL (Ammunition Data Link), which consists of a modified bolt mechanism, an updated electronic fire control unit and advanced software. At the end of September, 2016, the state-owned enterprise Waterwlit Arsenal, received a contract for 2,7 million dollars to modify almost 450 gate mechanisms for M1 tank guns and ADL integration. The contract will run from April 2017 to January 2019, after which additional contracts may follow.
In March, the US Army issued General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) and Orbital ATK companies with fixed-price contracts worth 2017 and 63,7 million dollars for the production of new M47,5 and МXNXX sleeves up to 2019 of the year, and MXXX, respectively. for 1002-mm tank practical ammunition.
GD-OTS, in conjunction with Nammo, is promoting an 120-mm high-explosive fragmentation tracer (IM NOT-T) with a low-sensitivity explosive, its warhead capable of striking various targets, including underground shelters and other fortifications, light armored objects and manpower. Manual dual-mode fuse allows the tank commander to select the instantaneous or delayed mode. The warhead contains 3,2 kg of explosives, which is two times more than the previously used HEAT projectiles. Nammo also produces a 120-mm practical tracer, the ballistics matching the 120-mm projectile IM NON-T.
Rheinmetall's DMNNXX 120 mm multi-mode high-explosive fragmentation projectile can be used to pierce brick and concrete walls.
In July, 2017, the German Defense Procurement Agency BAAINBw and Rheinmetall signed a framework agreement with a potential value of hundreds of millions of euros to supply 120-mm combat and practical ammunition. The company received an initial contract worth about 45 million euros for the supply of 5000 shells DM11 in 2017-2018 years.
The DM11 three-mode high-explosive fragmentation projectile is designed to combat dismounted infantry, lightly armored targets, helicopters and the destruction of fortified positions. It can operate in the following modes: shock, delayed, and air detonation. Ammunition can be fired from any 120-mm smooth-bore gun provided that the tank is equipped with a modern fire control system. The German Army’s Leopard 2 battalions took over DM11 projectiles in 2014, it was also exported to other tank operators Leopard 2, as well as the USMC Mn 234.
Rheinmetall's DMNNXXNNMX-mm projectile is designed to destroy manpower, fortified positions, lightly armored targets and helicopters
German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), developed the Leopard 2 tank, in cooperation with the Rheinmetall company, the Leopard 68 and the 2 platforms ). They will be operated along with the existing fleet of 4 tanks Leopard 16A2 and 6 tanks Leopard 20А2М. The upgrade includes the installation of a new 7-mm / 2 cal caliber smooth-bore gun Rheinmetall L7A155, presented to the general public in October 2 of the year.
MKM programming system (data transfer module for ammunition) mounted in the breech mode allows you to automatically set the DM11 projectile fuse mode. Tests of the first two prototypes of Leopard 2A7V are scheduled to be held in the third quarter of the year 2018.
In December 2016, the Danish Defense Purchasing Agency issued a contract to KMW for 112 million euros to upgrade its 38 MBT Leopard 2A5DK to the equivalent 2A7V standard, and 16 machines underwent full and 22 machines for partial modernization.
With 2012, Rheinmetall has been producing the RH31 High Explosive Super Quick projectile as a cheaper alternative to DM11. This projectile is designed to make passes and the formation of fragments, which makes it a very effective means of dealing with lightly armored targets. The RH31 ammunition is equipped with a non-programmable head fuse, so they can shoot from any standard 120-mm smooth-bore tank gun without the need to refine the weapon system.
The newest DM63 / DM53A1 armor-piercing shells from Rheinmetall, designed specifically to make full use of the potential of the L55 cannon with 55 barrel-length calibers, have improved armor penetration. When firing from the L44 cannon, the muzzle energy of these projectiles is 15% more than the energy of previous armor-piercing projectiles, and when firing from the L55 cannon more by 30%. New projectiles are equipped with propelling charges that are independent of temperature, which allows them to be used in extreme climatic zones at temperatures from –46 to + 71 ° С. In order to conform to the characteristics of the DM63 projectiles, the existing DM53 ammunition can be modified, after which it will be designated DM53A1. The DM78 practical armor-piercing projectiles can be used in the same temperature range as the DM63 projectile.
Rifled Cannon Tank Challenger 2
The British Army’s Challenger 2 OBT is the only NATO’s OBT armed with an 120-mm / 55 cal cutter L30A1 gun, which fires unique ammunition of separate charging consisting of the projectile itself and a propelling charge. This forces the British Department of Defense and BAE Systems, the only ammunition manufacturer for the Challenger 2, to fund the development of ammunition for it. The economic feasibility of using the L30A1 projectile was called into question, since the fleet of tanks of the British army was reduced from 14 regiments to three, and by the year 2021 there will be only two combat regiments. Since only 38 tanks were exported to Oman, the likelihood of compensating development costs through export sales is very low.
At the end of 2005, in accordance with the proposed Challenger Lethality Improvement Program (Challenger Tank Fire Enhancement Program), one Challenger 2 tank was equipped with a Rheinmetall L55 smooth-bore gun for testing. However, despite the positive results of these tests, the army was forced to roll this project at the time worth 445 million dollars due to lack of funds. Although under the current life extension program for the Challenger 2 LEP (Life Extension Program) it is planned to retain the L30 cannon, Rheinmetall, one of the two companies that won the LEP development contracts in December of 2016, included in its proposal the option to install their cannon L55. The decision to start production under the Challenger 2 LEP program is scheduled for mid-year 2019.
The Challenger 2 tank ammunition consists of two main types of ammunition: BOPS with L27A1 tracer, equipped with a dining uranium core, and high-explosive fragmentation projectile with a crushed L31A7 HESH. The L27A1 projectile was developed at the end of the 80-s and adopted in the 1994 year. The army also has a decent arsenal of outdated BOPS L23A1, in which the core of a tungsten-nickel-copper alloy is significantly inferior in power of the core of depleted uranium.
Universal projectile L31A7, in fact, has not changed since its introduction into service with the tank Chieftain in the middle of the 60-s. Along with the use of armored vehicles, the possibility of a head fuse of the percussion action of this projectile can be used to destroy fortifications and make passages in concrete walls. The range of the L31A7 HESH stabilized by rotating the projectile is up to 8 km, which is significantly longer than the range of the remaining ammunition. During the fighting in Iraq, in order to minimize indirect losses, the crews of the Challenger 2 tanks used practical shells L32A6 Squash Head Practice and BOPS L29A1.
In accordance with the Challenger 2 LEP project, new sights and a new fire control system will be installed, with army officials acknowledging that a new ammunition will be needed, since the tank must meet new threats until its decommissioning in the 2035 year.
Soldiers replenish the ammunition of the tank M1A1 120-mm shells
In response to the needs
Necter Systems’s Leclerc MBT, developed for the French army and also sold in the United Arab Emirates, is armed with 120-mm / 52 feces with a smooth-bore F1 gun developed by the same company. An automatic loader is installed in the turret, which supplies shells from a two-level shop with 22 shells installed in the aft niche of the turret. Another 18 shells are laid inside the shell. All shells have a bar code that allows the automatic loader to deliver the projectile chosen by the gunner operator.
In order to meet the needs of the French army, Nexter produces the entire line of 120-mm ammunition, however, most of them are exported. The F1 cannon family includes various projectiles: an F1B BOPS with a tungsten core; high-explosive fragmentation projectile F1 with a shock fuse, designed to destroy reinforced concrete structures, destroy lightly armored vehicles and manpower in open areas; practical BOPS with a tracer; and practical cumulative F1A. The family also includes the CAN cluster, based on the M1028 projectile developed by the American company GD-OTS.
The M1028 cassette version contains over 1100 tungsten balls
Nexter's latest development is an X MX-mm IM M120M (Insensitive Munition with Three Modes) high-explosive fragmentation projectile with a low-sensitivity explosive and a programmable fuse with three modes: instantaneous, delayed, and air exploded. The maximum range of real fire at the initial speed of the M3M 3 projectile, m / s, is 1050 meters. Ammunition NOT M4000 in the French army will replace the outdated high-explosive fragmentation projectile F3.
Nexter IM M120M 3-mm high-explosive fragmentation projectile
The representative of the Israeli company IMI Systems called the main threat to the OBT "anti-tank groups equipped with extremely lethal anti-tank weapons. These groups, deployed everywhere on the modern battlefield, on the ground, in cars, in buildings and fortifications, have become the main threat to modern tanks. ” This was amply demonstrated by the Lebanese Conflict of the 2006 of the Year and the war in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009.
In response to this threat, IMI Systems has developed an 105-mm universal projectile for hitting manpower and material objects M117 / 1 AntiPersonnel / Anti-Materiei-Mufti-Purpose-Tracer (APAM-MP-T), designed for tank gun M68, which equipped with tanks Merkava Mk1 and Mk2. Later, the 120-mm M329 ARAM-MP-T projectile was developed for the MG251 / 253 smoothbore guns of its own design, which are armed with the Merkava Mk3 and Mk4 Israeli army. The ARAM projectile is designed to hit manpower, light armored vehicles, concrete walls with double reinforcement thickness up to 51 cm, wood-earth fortifications and hovering helicopters.
For the destruction of manpower and hovering helicopters, a projectile is fired on a hinged trajectory and throws six submarines over the target, which create a cone of fragments with a length of 50 meters and a width of 20 meters. In the mode of destruction of material objects or direct impact, the ARAM projectile is shot as a unitary projectile. М329 was commissioned by the Israeli army in 2010, and in July 2011, the Ministry of Defense awarded IMI Systems for developing this projectile.
The M339 universal projectile from Israel Military Industries, like other similar projectiles, has a tri-mode fuse
The 120-mm universal explosive fragmentation projectile M339 developed by IMI Systems, also known as Kalanit, was first used in combat conditions during Operation 2014 of the Year “Enduring Rock”. When creating the M339 projectile, experience in the development of the ARAM projectile was used. According to IMI, it allows tanks to "take part in urban hostilities without causing undue indirect damage." The M339 is equipped with a programmable fuse with three modes of operation: “Super Quick” shock action; delayed "Delayed Impact", allowing you to pierce the wall and detonate inside; and the air burst air burst.