Russian tensions cast a shadow over European defense fair
This week, France kicked off Eurosatory 2022 international trade fair for defense and security after a four-year hiatus. The reference international event for the defense industry includes 63 exhibiting countries, 98,721 participants from 153 countries and 500 new defense products. Eurosatory is sponsored by the French Ministry of Defense and COGSFrench company dedicated to promoting the French defense industry internationally.
This year’s Eurosatory exhibition takes place against the backdrop of deteriorating relations between most European states and Russia, which explains the increase in European arms imports. This makes the region a new hotspot for arms sales, following a trend previously displayed by the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Although global arms purchases fell by 4.6% in 2017-2021 compared to the previous five years, arms sales in Europe increased by 19%, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The largest European arms importers were the United Kingdom, Norway and the Netherlands, with other European states expected to increase their arms purchases over the next decade. They placed orders for major weapons, especially fighter planes in the United States.
Land warfare systems featured prominently in this year’s Eurosatory exhibit. These include armored fighting vehicles, artillery pieces and air defense systems.
Among the flagship exhibitions was the new Rheinmetall KF51 main battle tank, which, according to its manufacturer, is an all-new concept that builds on the design of the late Cold War Leopard 2 series of tanks. The tank weighs 59 tons, has a range of around 500 km and requires a three-man crew consisting of driver, gunner and commander.
The main weapon of the tank is the Future Rheinmetall 130-mm gun system, resulting in a 50% performance increase over current 120mm tank guns in Western service. According to Rheinmetall, the 120 mm depleted uranium (DU) sabot rounds have already reached their performance limit, and neither the 120 mm depleted uranium rounds nor the tungsten rounds have been evaluated against the latest Russian Relikt explosive reactive armor (ERA), which detonates on radar command before being hit by an incoming projectile.
Therefore, the new 130mm gun mounted on the KF51 Panther aims to exceed the performance limits of the 120mm DU and tungsten sabot caliber shells, while being powerful enough to defeat the latest advances in tank armor.
The tank’s other weapons include a coaxial .50 caliber cannon, a 7.62mm Remote Control Weapon Station (RCWS), and the HERO 120 stray round which could be used to strike targets that are not in line of sight. target. It has a 4.5 kg warhead and a flight time of 60 minutes.
The KF51 Panther also has an autoloader, making it the second current Western tank to have this feature after the French Leclerc. This technology increases the tank’s rate of fire and drops the crew member from the loader. Western tanks traditionally have four crew members – the commander, gunner, loader and driver.
While the inclusion of an autoloader speeds up the rate of fire and helps lighten the weight of the vehicle when it drops the armor and support systems needed for the loader, it drops a crew member who could potentially be another helping hand in an emergency. Also, the autoloader may break due to malfunctions or battle damage, and in this case, a smaller crew may have difficulty loading the tank’s main gun.
The tank is also equipped with multi-level protection including preventive, reactive, passive and active technologies. It has pre-shot detection capability, allowing it to destroy threats first. It has the ROSY Smoke Blackout System which creates an instant smoke screen that can block conventional weapons, weapons with optical devices, and laser distance measurement.
It also has an Active Protection System (APS) that can destroy Kinetic Energy (KE) penetrators before they impact the tank’s main armor. Additionally, the tank is fully hardened against cyber threats, as it is designed to operate in a highly contested electromagnetic environment.
Artillery systems also featured prominently in this year’s Eurosatory exhibition, with Excalibur Army (Czechoslovak group) and Tatra Trucks launching their Morana 155-mm wheeled self-propelled gun (SPG) during the event.
The Morane Features a 155mm howitzer with a barrel length of 52 calibers, with a three-man crew consisting of driver, operator and commander. It can start firing within 40 seconds of stopping in firing position, while being controlled by the crew from inside the cabin, which is shielded against small arms fire, grenades and mines up to 6 kg.
It is built on a Tatra Force 8×8 truck chassis, with all wheels steerable for maximum manoeuvrability. Unlike previous weapons of this type, the Morana features a rear-mounted unmanned weapon superstructure with the power pack mounted behind the crew cabin.
As it is on a wheeled platform, it has several advantages over towed guns and self-propelled guns, such as higher gun crew survivability compared to towed guns, less time for moving from a moving position to a firing position, higher tactical mobility, simplified logistics, and lower operating costs compared to tracked SPG models. In addition to the howitzer, the vehicle is equipped with a roof-mounted RCWS with various sensors and a .50 caliber machine gun for self-defense.
The 52 caliber howitzer has a fully automatic loading system and a new automated device for adding propellant charges, significantly increasing the rate of fire. The crew also has an automated weapon sighting system, an on-board control and diagnostic system, and a combat information system. The Morana was designed with modularity in mind, as the weapon’s superstructure could be integrated on various wheeled or tracked chassis, thanks to its independent hydraulics and powertrain.
Various artillery shells were also on display, with Nexter showing its LU 220 shell 155 mm, which can be loaded with 25% more explosives than the old LU 211 while keeping the same weight. The company also showcased its FB 375 MK2 multi-mode artillery fuse, which can be programmed to detonate depending on mission requirements.
Another type of exposed round was the BONUS 155mm anti-armor shell. It provides a long-range artillery anti-tank capability, as after being launched from a 155mm gun, the carrier shell deploys two top-attack submunitions that independently search for targets in an area of 32,000 square meters.
Nexter also presented its KATANA 155mm Guided Artillery Cartridgewhich relies on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and inertial guidance, and can be set to detonate by proximity, impact or delay.
Air defense systems also figured prominently at Eurosatory 2022, with Israel showing a mobile version of his Iron Dome system and announcing plans to set up laser-based air defenses.
According to a statement from manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, “the security situation in Europe has revealed the need for such defense technologies, those that can cover large areas and are easily deployed and moved according to the needs of assets in the given arena. ,” and “the current war in Ukraine has reinforced the importance of moving towards more mobile and agile solutions.”
I-Dome is a version of the Iron Dome air defense system mounted on a single truck to provide air defense for maneuver forces and military and critical installations. The reduced system contains 10 Tamir interceptors, against 20 for its static version. It’s a all-in-one systemin that the missile launcher, radar and control system are placed in the cabin of a vehicle.
It can perform very short range air defense (VSHORAD) against aircraft, including helicopters and drones, and against counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) missions. It has the same capabilities as an Iron Dome static battery.
During the exhibition, Rafael also unveiled his progress on laser-based air defenses. In a company statementa senior official has called the current generation of air defenses insufficient against the rapid proliferation of unmanned aerial systems and hypersonic weapons.
Thus, a laser-based air defense system could complement missile-based defenses. Although a laser has negligible costs per shot, its effectiveness is greatly reduced in adverse weather conditions and against fast-moving close-range targets.
An air defense system comprised of both missile and laser defenses could be the answer to these emerging threats, with the Iron Beam laser air defense system expected to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and integrate into air defense systems from Rafael by 2024. Iron Beam will use at least two types of interceptors and will feature an open architecture, allowing the use of third-party interceptors, and will share the same threat management and calculation software as all other equipment air defense Rafael.