New 120 mm gun and ammunition; a 20% performance increase in the coming years

While Rheinmetall’s new 120 mm smoothbore gun, known as L55A1, is already available and is in series production for Germany, Denmark and Hungary, fitted to the Leopard 2A7V MBT, the second element that will bring increased performances, the new APFSDS round, has still to come. As for the gun, Rheinmetall released the pressure differences between the L44 gun and the L55A1, which feature the same chamber volume that is of approximately 10 litres. The Extreme Service Condition Pressure (ESCP) is raised from 672 to 700 MPa, the Permissible Maximum Pressure (PMP) from 710 to 735 MPa, and the Design Pressure from 740 to 760 MPa. This pressure increase is vital to obtain the performances increases that the two rounds under development will bring with them.

The first one to enter service will be the DM73, which should reach qualification by year-end and will ensure an 8% performance increase over current DM53/DM63 rounds. However the round that will “squeeze” all the remaining growth potential from the 120 mm smoothbore weapon system will be the KE2020Neo; while the DM73 is an upgraded version of previous rounds, this one is a brand new development which qualification should start in 2024 to be completed by 2026, when it will become available on the market. The forecasted increase in performances should reach 20% compared to current armour piercing ammunition.


Photo courtesy KMW