Can KNDS' EMBT heavy tank win against the KF-51? Panther from Rheinmetall?

The last Eurodatory 2022 exhibition devoted to land armaments was marked by the presentation of two new European tanks, a first in around thirty years. Jointly engaged in a Franco-German MGCS program aimed at designing the replacement for the Leopard 2 and Leclerc, Rheinmetall on one side, and the Nexter-KMW couple grouped together in the KNDS group on the other, each presented their champion, the prototype of the KF-51 Panther of the first, and the Enhanced Main Battle Tank or EMBT demonstrator of the second. If, during the show, the two armored vehicles were more or less on an equal footing, both in terms of announced capacities and audience, the situation quickly evolved in favor of Rheinmetall in the weeks that followed. Indeed, while the EMBT was disassembled to continue the design of the turret at Nexter, and the hull at KMW, the KF51 undertook, for its part, an intense media and political campaign, with the aim of making it, in the minds of the Germans but also of a large part of Western opinions interested in the subject, the designated successor of Leopard 2, and the answer to the famous Russian T-14 Armata.

Thus, Rheinmetall multiplied videos and press articles in order to promote its new foal, the design of which would have started in 2015 and the presentation of the Armata on Red Square. It must be said that the German tank has serious arguments to put forward, with a perfectly modern design in terms of vetronics and communication systems; a substantial armament including the new Rh-130 cannon of 130mm and 52 calibers, this itself constitutes today one of the main subjects of stumbling block with France and the Ascalon cannon from Nexter, for the continuation of the MGCS program, but also missile launchers capable of launching Hero 120 loitering munitions, SPIKE anti-tank missiles, reconnaissance drones or surface-to-air missiles; as well as advanced defensive systems integrating the hard-kill APS system, active and passive protections and specific protection against diving threats. All of the videos published by Rheinmetall over the months of July and August highlighted all of these qualities, with examples of dynamic shooting, crossing and intercepting threats, even involving a member of the Bundestag. German visibly won over by what he saw, for greater proximity. The message was clear: Panther is ready for battle, and he is formidable.

KF41 PANTHER Germany | Defense Analysis | MBT battle tanks
The KF51 Panther from Rheinmetall is presented as a prototype, and not a demonstrator.

Rheinmetall's second offensive came through the voice of its CEO, Armin Papperger, when the latter positioned, without saying so directly, as an economical, efficient and immediately available alternative to the MGCS program. According to him, the European battle tank market will be, in the years to come, in demand for a large number of tanks to replace the armored vehicles inherited from the Cold War, and the MGCS will not be able to meet these needs within the required timeframes, leaving critical space for alternative offerings, like the K2 Black Panther South Korean already chosen by Poland, which is none other than the largest market for this type of armor on the old continent with a force which will reach 1500 heavy tanks by 2035. Judging by the reactions of the specialized press across the Rhine and throughout Europe, the message has visibly carried, and the Panther appears more and more as the designated successor of Leopard 2 of KMW, delegating the MGCS to a very possible later and at least secondary role. The threat has clearly not escaped KNDS which, in a more discreet and contained manner than its competitor, published this week a video showing its EMBT, with a clear objective, that of not leaving the media and political space in the hands of from Rheinmetall.

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