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Angle fire contributes significantly to fire superiority in modern armed forces. The relevance of fire support in this case increases still further, studies have shown that up to 60 percent of losses in World War I, to 70 percent in World War II and up to 80 percent of the failures in the recent conflict in the Donbass (Ukraine) by high-angle fire systems caused (artillery and mortar).

Exactly these systems have become the NATO forces after the fall of the Iron Curtain out of focus. So it is not surprising that NATO is clearly inferior in this area the armed forces of Russia and China both in terms of quantity (number of systems) and quality (reach and impact). Although many of the Russian and Chinese systems composed of gekom menem in the years unit, increasingly modern high-performance systems in service are provided. Including, for example, the Russian self-propelled howitzer 2S35, which is rumored to an effective range of conventional explosive munitions by about 80 kilometers. In comparison, to achieve effective range of only 30 kilometers to the 2000 tank (PzH 2000) and used in the Bundeswehr explosive projectile DM121 Boattail.

In sum, currently in use western tube artillery systems have a distinct disadvantage range. This has been recognized and several forces have launched programs to close this capability gap compared to a potential adversary. The US Army tried this in the context of long-range cannon artillery program ERCA (Extended Range Artillery Cannon), which aims to increase the reach of the US howitzers to 70-100 kilometers. The Bundeswehr has recognized the need to act and wants to expand the reach of the system howitzers as part of the initiative Future Indirect Fire mid-range significantly. The regrowth of artillery systems has also already decided. The number of howitzers 2000 will grow to 2031 of former 81 to 108 systems. In addition, an initiative up to 108 Radhaubitzen runs to obtain.

It is important to know that coverage requirements km for tube artillery to distances of 75 and 100 km not have to show that it is a target engagement km at a depth of 75 in the interior of the enemy seeks. This would be desirable, but with the currently in service use target reconnaissance means unrealistic. Much more important is being able to use the ability artillery systems from a further depth of one's room. In a duel situation, a rich far stronger system both fire support for their own fighting force can afford, as well as enlightened enemy artillery systems fight without that it can be self-controlled by the rich far weaker opponents.

The previously calculated concepts to increase in range of 2000 tank were confirmed by Rheinmetall in Alkantpan in South Africa in live fire. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

Rheinmetall, the manufacturer of the weapon system used in the 2000 tank with a 52 caliber length tube (L52) and the house and yard supplier of artillery ammunition used in the army, has recently presented concepts how this gap could be filled for the army. All concepts are compliant with the Joint Ballistic Memorandum of Understanding NATO. The feasibility of the previously calculated and realized rapidly concepts was recently asked during a firing demonstration on 6 November 2019 Alkantpan in South Africa to the test.

Short-term approach

The concept of Rheinmetall sees three ways in which the German PzH2000 can be short ertüchtig to achieve greater ranges. These approaches can be implemented according to the company without changes to the weapon system.

One of the possibilities is the introduction of which is already being used in the kitchen, also with PzH2000 Dutch artillery-house M1711 Basebleed ammunition. Base bleed projectiles have a pyrotechnic charge on the projectile tail. This is ignited at launch and has the task of reducing the negative pressure behind the projectile by the discharge of combustion gases and thus reduce the suction. This results in improved aerodynamic characteristics of the projectile and thus more flight distances with the same weight and muzzle velocities (V0) Compared to conventional bullets. This solution could be a range of up to 40 km reach.

The second way is to use more propellant charges. According to Rheinmetall, the current pressure limit of the weapons complex is located at 359 MPa. This limit is not reached even when using the 6th charge. To realize these existing power reserves, the use of 52 to 23-caliber Topcharge of Nitrochemie, a joint venture between Rheinmetall and RUAG proposed. With the Topcharge a muzzle velocity can be in excess of 990 m / s (6th charge equivalent to 945 m / s) to achieve what corresponds to an increase in range based on the output value of each type of ammunition, of about 17 percent. This calculated value was exceeded during the shooting campaign in South Africa.

A third short-term realizable possibility of recourse to the Group's own and located in series production Assegai M2005 V-LAP proposes ammunition. V-LAP stands for Velocity Enhanced Long Range Artillery Projectile, behind which hides a speed increased by Basebleed and rocket motor artillery shell. A part of the explosive had to make way for housing the rocket motor in the projectile. So that four kg of explosives must be sufficient as an explosive mass in the M2005 V-LAP. In order to still achieve a similar active power as a DM121, one solution would be to think with vorfragmentierter warhead.

The combination L52 weapon system of PzH200 in conjunction with Topcharge and M2005 V-LAP was recently shot in South Africa by Rheinmetall under non-optimal external ballistic conditions. Here, a range of 66,943 meters was achieved.

DM121 Boattail M1711 Basebleed M2005 V-LAP
V0 21 ° 6th charge 945 m / s 945 m / s
Range 30 km 40 km
V0 21 ° Topcharge 1003 m / s 1010 m / s 1010 m / s
effective range 35 km 47 km 63 km
Increase in range over DM121 6th charge 17 percent 57 percent 110 percent
achieved in South Africa on November 6, 2019 Range 35,882 m 47,374 m 66,943 m
Calculated coverage L60 tube in conjunction with Topcharge 48 km 64 km 83 km


Longer-term approach

For the Future System Indirect fire medium-range (wheel), the Bundeswehr a range requirement of 75 Km (conventional ammunition) or 100 km (precision munitions) set up. From the perspective of Rheinmetall these ranges can only be reached with a new weapon system.

Since the ballistic faded floors are exposed to the exterior ballistic factors (eg. Winds aloft) due to the longer flight duration for a longer time, the filing will increase in the target with increasing range. Be formerly, has the faded ammunition with course correction detonators, such as. The PGK (Precision Guidance Kit) Northrop Grumman innovation system provided, Orbital ATK to still meet the Präzisionsanforderungvon> 50 m. All types of 2-D course correction detonators cause - because of a remarkably increased air reconditions over conventional igniters - a loss of range of the ammunition used by up to 10%. Therefore, to achieve an effective range of 75 km an actual range of 83 km, to compensate for this effect the course correction fuze.

With the new weapon system L60 with 29 liters cargo space volume weft lengths of 75 Km (83 Km) with conventional ammunition would be possible. (Graphics: Rheinmetall)

The raised floors in this range use up to, should must be a higher muzzle velocity reached. The company has calculated that the new weapon system would have to have about 500 MPa a charge volume of 29 liters for the propellant charge and a pressure limit. The total length of the tube would then be about 60 caliber lengths (L60), which would correspond to approximately 9.30 m. For comparison, a L52 tube of PzH2000 is 8.06 m long.

Moreover, Rheinmetall through first internal studies to one rated for this system precision projectile to use up to a distance of up to 155 km, which would correspond to a power reserve of 50 percent compared to the coverage requirement of the Bundeswehr.


The short-term solutions would be no development risk relatively quickly and, depending on the approach relatively inexpensive to implement. For this, the Bundeswehr would have the ammunition but qualify and obtain. The German artillery would therefore shortly the possibility of the current range drawback to shrink significantly right.

Reach combinations of different types of ammunition and pipe lengths. (Graphics: Rheinmetall)

The development and introduction of a new weapon system would certainly take several years to complete and would, like all development projects, combined with a certain development risk. However, since the weapon system L52 currently currently in service km in the calculated and verified in Alkantpan range of 63 at sea level with the V-LAP has limitations, this would be the next logical step if one intends objectives through the tube artillery to distances up to 75 km tackle wanting. could continue the new L60 weapon system also cost Boattail and Basebleed ammunition km with 48 or 64 km even use up much further than the existing L52.

Waldemar Geiger