Armor: March 20, 2001


The German parliament has approved the purchase of 27,000 rounds of new 120mm ammunition for the Leopard-2A6 tank and its 120mm smoothbore cannon. This is the second phase of an improvement program for the Leopard-2. The first phase is replacing the L44 cannons with longer L55 cannons, resulting in the redesignated Leopard-2A6. The $82.3 million contract covers four batches of ammunition designated DM53 or LKE-II. The round is optimized for the L55 cannons (which is 55 x 120mm long), developing 13 mega-joules of energy. It can be fired from the older L44 but would only generate 11.6 mega-joules. The new DM53 round develops 15% more muzzle velocity from the L44 and 30% more from the L55 than existing ammunition. The penetrating rod is tungsten (depleted uranium is taboo in Europe) and the Germans claim it can penetrate any tank on Earth, including those with double-layers of explosive reactive armor. Ironically, the first production lots of Germany's new "super shot" ammunition were delivered to the Swiss Army in 1999.--Stephen V Cole


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