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Nexter unveils ASCALON, its concept for next-generation main battle tank armament

Nexter on 14 April unveiled its concept for the next generation of main battle tank (MBT) armament, which it has designated ASCALON (Autoloaded and SCALable Outperforming guN).

Nexter is pitching the ASCALON concept as an open architecture solution, forming the basis of a future joint development for the main armament requirement of the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). MGCS is aimed at replacing the French Leclerc and German Leopard 2 MBTs about 2040.

Leveraging the company’s previous work on current large calibre weapon and ammunition manufacturing, cased-telescoped ammunition, and experimentation with 140 mm guns, the ASCALON concept is claimed to offer several advantages over existing designs.

This includes the potential for long rod penetrators with an “unparalleled length” and an overall projectile length of 130 cm, Nexter said. The larger calibre, which was not specified, would offer greater potential for the use of guided munitions, possibly with beyond-line-of-sight/non-line-of-sight (BLOS/NLOS) capabilities.

Presented with the announcement was an image of the concept weapon and an armour-piercing, fin-stabilised discarding sabot-tracer (APFSDS-T) round in a cased-telescoped configuration, which means the majority of the projectile is surrounded by its propellant in a cylindrical case, as opposed to a bottle-shaped casing used for conventional ammunition. The projectile assembly appears to include a tractor-sabot design, a patent for which was filed by Giat in 1989 (Giat became Nexter in 2006).

A tractor-sabot includes a short cylindrical section close to the tip of the projectile that protrudes beyond the case as opposed to being held within it. Three guiding arms extend down the penetrator body that are also sub-calibre.

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