Rheinmetall Weapons and Ammunition "has completed developmental efforts" of an initial new Next Generation (NG) 130 mm smooth bore tank gun, but some further design changes are expected, company officials told Jane's.
The first NG 130 mm smooth bore gun, unveiled at Eurosatory 2016 in Paris, is regarded as a technical demonstrator (TD) and Rheinmetall said it plans to offer this as the potential armament for the US Army Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV).
A Rheinmetall representative, who requested anonymity, said the weapon is an L51 cannon and uses new high-strength steel, is chrome plated with a vertical sliding breech mechanism, electrical firing mechanism, and an increased chamber volume so more propellant can be used to enable higher muzzle velocities and therefore greater armour penetration characteristics. It is fitted with a thermal sleeve and muzzle reference system, according to the representative.
Rheinmetall said the 6.63 m barrel weighs 3,000 kg, including the recoil system, but without the mounting components. The company representative confirmed that, by November 2019, about 80 rounds had been fired at its proving ground.
The representative said the chamber of the first NG 130 mm has a volume of 15 litres and a design pressure of 880 MPa, but added that "due to the experiences and knowledge gained in the live firing trials, this data will be modified in the next stage of development." One NG 130 mm gun has been built by Rheinmetall using internal research and development funding, and a second weapon is now being built that will incorporate a number of modifications.
The first 130 mm round developed by Rheinmetall is an armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot - tracer (APFSDS-T) with a semi-combustible cartridge case, new high-energy propellant that is insensitive munition (IM) compliant, and a new advanced long rod tungsten penetrator for greater penetration characteristics.
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