Nexter (KDNS Group) is proposing a new artillery projective built around the ASCALON concept (Autoloaded and SCALable Outperforming guN) for the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) main battle tank designed to cope with the latest generation of heavy armour while staying ahead of the threats of the next half-century.
Based on technical solutions that will be fully mature by 2025, ASCALON offers an open architecture designed to serve as the basis for cooperative development under the Franco-German MGCS programme. This concept lays the foundations for the future European battle tank gun and ammunition standard, drawing on previous experiences with allies, such as in the 140mm FTMA gun.
ASCALON’s enlarged calibre enriches the range of ammunition for an optimal effect on the target thanks to rods of unparalleled length. It also makes it possible to foresee intelligent ammunition for firing beyond direct sight (BLOS/NLOS), which will provide new capacities while reducing the vulnerability of the tank.
With a maximum length of 130 cm, ASCALON telescoped ammunition will be more compact than an equivalent calibre ammunition. It can be stored and integrated in a self-loading turret, a technology mastered by Nexter and proven over many years on the Leclerc tank.
Its optimised chamber offers 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.
The weapon’s muzzle brake, adjusted external pressure fields and an optimised firing impulse, will limit the blast effect of the shot. ASCALON will thus allow the presence of infantrymen in the vicinity of the tank for joint combat, particularly in urban areas.
Thanks to a controlled impulse, ASCALON will have a recoil and acceleration effort compatible with mobile and projectable platforms weighing less than 50 tonnes, while preserving the vehicle's layout capabilities.
Main Ground Combat System (MGCS)
The European Main Battle Tank will combine the hull of a Leopard 2A7 with the lighter, two-man turret of a Leclerc. The project was launched to replace the AMX Leclerc and Leopard 2 main battle tanks currently in service with the two countries.
This would be the first new tank design in the world in decades. It has been over 55 years since the introduction of the Leopard 2 main battle tank and 25 years after delivery of the first Puma infantry fighting vehicle.
The programme, to be implemented under German political leadership, is tasked with developing a main combat system to succeed the Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 and the French Army’s Leclerc starting in 2035.
Marking the start of the MGCS procurement programme, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Nexter Systems and Rheinmetall AG established a consortium, ARGE, in December 2019. The ARGE is a German acronym standing for Arbeitsgemeinschaft, or “working group."
The first production vehicle is scheduled for delivery in 2035. After fielding and training of the crews, operators and tactical leaders, Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is to be achieved in 2040.