Forgot to note that the Abrams' 120mm cannon was surrounded by controversy.
Ammunition sales build up
By Christopher F Foss
The first customer for the DM53 was Switzerland, which placed an order for some 20,000 rounds for use with its fleet of Leopard 2 series tanks. More recently, Germany has ordered 27,000 rounds and the Netherlands has ordered 16,300 rounds.
In addition to being used with the Leopard 2 tank fitted with the standard 120mm L/44 barrel, it is used with the latest 120mm L/55 barrel fitted to the Leopard 2A6. Under current plans, the German Army is to fit a first batch of 225 Leopard 2 series MBTs with the 120mm L/55 barrel. The first of these was handed over recently at the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann facility in Munich.
The Netherlands has decided to upgrade 180 of its Leopard 2s to the Leopard 2A6 configuration, while the 219 Spanish Leopard 2 tanks will be fitted with this from the start. The Krauss-Maffei Leopard 2 MBT is now the most widely used tank in Europe, and Germany is also hoping for sales of the vehicle to Greece and Turkey. The first Spanish-built Leopard 2E will be completed late next year.
The 120mm DM53 APPFSDS-T round is now being offered to other countries equipped with tanks armed with a 120mm smoothbore gun. In addition to being fired from the Leopard 2 it can be fired from the 120mm armed M1A1/M1A (USA), the Leclerc (France) and the Ariete (Italy).
Exports of the DM53 are approved by the German Government on a case-by-case basis. According to Rheinmetall, its 120mm DM53 has high penetration characteristics against threat armour using a non-depleted uranium penetrator. The USA still relies on a DU penetrator that is no longer politically acceptable in many countries.
To replace the current 120mm HEAT-MP-T (High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi Purpose - Tracer) round, Rheinmetall is developing the 120mm HE-T (high explosive - tracer) range which is optimised for engaging battlefield targets such as anti-tank teams and fortifications. Considerable interest has already been shown in the HE-T round by a number of countries, including the Netherlands.
With the cancellation of the German Army New Generation Platform (NGP), the German Army is expected to continue to upgrade the vehicles in the key areas of armour, mobility and firepower.
For the export market, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is offering the Leopard 2A6, which as well as having the 120mm L/55 barrel, has a number of other improvements including an auxiliary powerpack. Late this year, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is due to complete its DEMO II feature, powered by the latest 1,650hp EuroPowerPack, which will give the Leopard 2 not only improved performance but also reduced fuel consumption.