Drawing on its expertise in tank armament, illustrated by the Leclerc's self-loading gun, and on the excellence of its munitions subsidiary, Nexter (KNDS Group) is presenting a new main armament concept for combat tanks, designed to deal with future heavily armored threats. This breakthrough weapon represents a major contribution by French industry to achieve, at the end of a cooperative development, a new solution shared by France and Germany, enhancing distributed activity and balanced skills contributions within the European DTIB.
By 2040-2050, the allied nations will potentially face the return of high-intensity confrontations. In the land domain, armies will have to acquire a modern means of tactical superiority, whether or not it is robotized, integrating numerous systems, and reaching the highest levels of protection for the crew and the ability to neutralize the adversary. Faced with numerous and hardened threats, winning the battle from the outset will require firing quickly, far away, with a high destructive capacity on the first shot, while reducing logistical and ergonomic constraints.
The new generation of large-calibre weapons will have to be able to guarantee the armed forces tactical superiority not only tomorrow (2035), but also for the following decades. In order to meet this ambitious objective, Nexter is developing an innovative concept that has the potential to evolve and deliver performance that current technologies no longer offer. Taking advantage of its long experience with the 120mm smoothbore gun of the LECLERC tank, its mastery of telescoped ammunition as well as the maturity achieved during firing with a 140mm caliber, Nexter is proposing the ASCALON concept ("Autoloaded and SCALable Outperforming guN") designed to deal with the latest generation of heavy threats, while enabling the threats of the next half-century to be anticipated.
Based on technical solutions that will be fully mature by 2025, ASCALON offers an open architecture designed to serve as the basis, within the framework of the Franco-German MGCS programme, for cooperative development, thus laying the foundations for the future European tank gun and ammunition standard, in the same way as the work previously carried out on the 140mm FTMA gun in cooperation between allied nations.
Thanks to its breakthrough features, ASCALON is characterized by :
A wide choice of terminal effects: the enlarged caliber enriches the range of ammunition for an optimal effect on the target to be treated, thanks to arrows of unequalled length. It also makes it possible to envisage intelligent ammunition for firing beyond the direct line of sight (BLOS/NLOS), which will provide new capabilities while reducing the tank's vulnerability.
Compact ammunition: with a maximum length of 130 cm, ASCALON telescoped ammunition will be more compact for an equivalent calibre and can be stored and integrated in a self-loading turret, a technology mastered by Nexter and proven over many years on the Leclerc tank.
Increased firepower: the optimized chamber reconciles exceptional operational performance with an energy level close to 10 megajoules for kinetic ammunition, while remaining below the internal pressure level of current calibres. This untapped potential will enable the weapon to evolve to a performance class of 13 megajoules capable of handling all the targets of the next 50 years.
A controlled blast effect: an innovative muzzle brake, adjusted external pressure fields and an optimized firing impulse will strongly limit the blast effect of the shot. ASCALON will thus allow the presence of infantrymen around the tank and for joint combat, particularly in urban areas.
Exceptional integration capability: thanks to a controlled impulse, ASCALON will have a recoil and acceleration effort compatible with mobile and projectable platforms weighing less than 50 tons, while preserving the vehicle's layout capabilities.
The result of Nexter's long experience in the field of tank guns and telescoped ammunition, and offering an architecture conducive to balanced industrial cooperation, the ASCALON concept has all the assets to become the standard gun for future heavy tanks, capable of ensuring, with its dedicated ammunition, the technological and tactical superiority of land systems for the coming decades: a breakthrough weapon for breakthrough land combat systems.