TechGermany unveils futuristic combat vision: Leaner, Stealthier tanks leading the battlefront

Germany unveils futuristic combat vision: Leaner, Stealthier tanks leading the battlefront

Demonstrator of the French-German future tank technology
Demonstrator of the French-German future tank technology
Images source: © Nexter
2:18 PM EST, January 26, 2024

The Bundeswehr suggests that the MGCS will significantly weigh less than the currently used tanks, aligning with the global trend of reducing the weight of upcoming tanks to enhance their mobility.

Contrast, the platforms' survival will not be determined by heavy armor but by a fusion of other components. These comprise high situational awareness, electronic warfare systems, passive (advanced camouflage, stealth features) and active defense tools.

MGCS: the successor to Leopard 2

Colonel Armin Dirks, the chief of operations for the joint project team in the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology, and Support to Federal Armed Forces, asserts that the new combat platform should not surpass 55.1 tons (110,230 pounds) in weight. Modern Western tanks weigh between 71.6 and 77.2 tons (143,300 and 154,320 pounds). The hybrid drive system aims to provide a high power-to-weight ratio, attaining 36 horsepower per ton.

Instead of the usual setup, future tank artillery will feature a 130 or 140-mm cannon mounted in an unmanned turret. This arrangement situates the crew as low in the hull as possible—a technique other tanks like the Russian T-14 Armata utilize. Thus, the minimal requirement for crew space allows for good armoring of the crew compartment without excessively increasing the vehicle's total weight.

Under the German concept, the MGCS platform is anticipated to form the foundation for at least three other combat vehicles. Contrary to various media reports, this platform is the successor to the Leopard 2 tank rather than the KF51 Panther.

In addition to the direct successor of modern tanks under the MGCS, a manned vehicle armed with anti-tank guided missiles is under development. Moreover, there are plans for an unmanned vehicle for indirect fire support, likely implementing circling ammunition or long-range ATGMs. All these vehicles are expected to feature an open, modular design, promoting more accessible service, repair, and future upgrades.

One of the visualizations presenting the MGCS platform.
One of the visualizations presenting the MGCS platform.© Hensoldt

Long wait for the future tank

The slow progress of the MGCS program, coupled with disagreements among the French and German partners, is affecting the decisions of other nations that might be interested in participating in the global project.

As a result, instead of waiting for the anticipated super tank, the United Kingdom has opted for a readily available solution—the Challenger 3 tank—expected to be in service within a few years.

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