A photo report on some vehicles and medium/large-calibre guns

Anthony G Williams


This report covers just a few of the more interesting (to me) items in the extensive outside display area at the biennial Paris exhibition held in June 2010. There is an even bigger indoor exhibition adjacent to this, packed full of military equipment of all kinds. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in military technology and qualify for admission. Compared with the equivalent DSEi held on alternate years at the Excel centre in London, the outside space allows far more vehicles to be displayed (and, being out in the open, they are much easier to photograph). On the other hand, DSEi has naval vessels right up alongside...

Rheinmetall displayed two versions of the Oerlikon Skyshield system, both using the fast-firing (1,000 rpm) 35mm Oerlikon KDG revolver cannon.

The truck-mounted version is shown on the right.

The dismounted system shown below, consisting of a gun module and a separate sensor and fire control module, has been purchased by the German Army for base defence in the C-RAM (Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar) role, using AHEAD / KETF ammunition (a modern version of the time-fuzed Shrapnel airburst shell).

 KETF = Kinetic Energy Time-Fuzed.

On the right is Rheinmetall's MBT Revolution Modular Upgrade, which includes comprehensive protection, a new digital turret, improved sensors, gun and ammunition, an auxiliary power unit and enhanced climate control, plus other features.


Below is the new Rheinmetall Lance modular turret on a Boxer AIFV (the vehicle can be glimpsed to the left of the MBT in the picture on the right). The muzzle is fitted with an electric fuze setter for use with KETF ammunition (in this case, for anti-personnel purposes).

Two new guns from Rheinmetall, both externally powered for vehicle mounting: on the right, a dummy of the RMG.50; and far right and below, the Wotan 30. As the designations suggest, the RMG.50 is chambered in 12.7x99, the Wotan 30 in 30x173.


The RMG.50 weighs only 25 kg (compared with 38 kg for the .50 M2HB) and has a variable rate of fire, up to 600 rpm. It uses a linkless ammo feed which may be single or double, and replaces fired cases into the ammo boxes. It usually fires from an open bolt, but has a "sniper mode" in which it fires from a closed bolt for greater accuracy. Normal barrel length is 1.14m (including muzzle brake) with which it has an overall length of 1.46m, but it is available with a 1.4m barrel for use with "enhanced performance ammunition".


The Wotan 30 can fire at up to 400 rpm and is intended for mounting on AFVs and naval vessels. It is likely to be the gun favoured for the MLG 30 naval mounting for dealing with small craft. The muzzle is fitted with a fuze setter for KETF ammunition.


Below is a Panhard Sphinx 6x6 recce vehicle armed with a mock-up of the Anglo-French 40mm Cased Telescoped Ammunition weapon system already chosen for the British FRES (SV) and Warrior MICV upgrade. It is proposed as a replacement for the EBRC.

Below is the OTO Melara Draco air defence turret, shown on a Centauro 8x8 chassis (it will fit on other chassis weighing at least 15 tons). In adapting the firm's 76mm automatic naval gun to AFVs, this is similar to the much bigger and heavier OTOmatic of the 1980s which needed a tank chassis to take the weight. Draco uses a new mechanism which saves a lot of weight, plus a more compact onboard radar and FCS.

Above left is the latest version of the KMW Leopard tank, the Leopard 2 A7+. This has a improvement in all-round protection to cope with the threat of large IEDs and has an FLW 200 remote-controlled weapon system on the turret roof. Some 50 of the German Army's Leopards are due to be upgraded to this configuration, starting in 2012


Above right is the Donar 155mm SPG, the result of a joint effort by KMW and GDELS. This mounts the gun from the PzH 2000 into a lighter turret mounted onto the (relatively) light chassis of the GD ASCOD II MICV, the total weight being just 31 tons. It can be airlifted in an A400M. The crew of two stay in the cab, the gun's automatic loading mechanism being able to fire off the 31 on-board rounds remotely, at an initial rate of 6 rounds per minute. This is being offered as a replacement for legacy 155mm SPG systems.


Finally, I couldn't resist concluding with the Renault FT17 tank on the right, armed with a machine gun rather than a 37mm cannon. Note the MG drum magazines lining the interior. It is astonishing just how tiny these tanks are compared with the ever-more massive "light" armoured vehicles being made today.