Nexter Munitions is in the final stages of developing a new 120 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding-sabot (APFSDS) round called the 120 Shard, the company announced on 9 March.
Designed to be fired from all NATO-standard 120 mm smoothbore guns, the 120 Shard features a number of improvements over the company’s existing APFSDS rounds such as the F1B and F1B+. These include a new long-rod penetrator built using a novel tungsten alloy developed in partnership with Plansee Tungsten Alloys, as well as a redesigned sabot. This is combined with a redesigned combustible cartridge case and a new low-erosion propellant charge developed by Eurenco.
According to Nexter Munitions, the 120 Shard is in the final stages of development, with optimisation of the round’s architecture to be completed this year. The company expects to start mass production of the round by the end of 2022.
No further technical details about the 120 Shard, such as its penetration capabilities, or if the rod itself uses a segmented construction, are known at this time. However, it is clear that the new round has been optimised to be able to defeat current and future passive and reactive armour systems.
The 120 Shard is part of a family of next-generation 120 mm tank ammunition being developed by Nexter for both current-generation main battle tanks (MBTs) and potential future developments such as the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS).
Nexter’s other developments include a guided 120 mm round known as Polynege. Intended to give an MBT a beyond-line-of-sight capability at ranges of up to 8 km, Polynege leverages some of the control and guidance technologies developed for Nexter’s Katana 155 mm guided artillery shell.