If you thought Rheinmetall was content with its superb 120mm main gun used on many of today’s main battle tanks, then you’d better think again. Reports out of the German firm indicate that they will soon be producing an even larger 130mm main gun, which, according to Defense News, “weighs more than 3.5 tons, compared to the approximately 3-ton 120mm gun, and uses a cartridge of more than 30 kilograms at about 1.3 meters long. Given these enhanced parameters, Rheinmetall engineers believe the weapon can only be used with an automatic loader and a new turret design.” So vehicles such as the family of M1 Abrams tanks constituting the bulk of US armored forces won’t be able to adapt the gun to its vehicles, since its fleet is designed for a human loader.
To make the most use of such a gun, a new MBT would have to be developed, likely resembling the recently introduced Russian T-14 Armata, which places the entire crew in a capsule within the body of the vehicle thereby enabling the gun, located in the top turret, direct access to its armament racks located behind the gun. Such a system would likely load the main gun much faster, reduce the overall profile of the vehicle, and probably offer better crew protection, particularly when coupled with the Trophy active protection system still being tested on different vehicle types. The gun should be in production by 2025.