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Giat seeks gun upgrade niche

PAOLO VALPOLINI JDW Correspondent
Milan

France's Giat Industries has teamed with DMD of the Slovak Republic to explore the feasibility of designing a low-profile turret armed with Giat's 120mm smoothbore gun and autoloader, developed for the Leclerc, to provide a cost-effective modernisation package for older main battle tanks (MBTs).

"We do not intend to develop and market it as a Giat product," said a Giat official. "But we would like to provide most of our technology based on the Leclerc turret, developing the final product together with DMD and with other companies, allowing customer nations to take part fully in the project."

DMD officials expressed the same concept: "To launch the project, of which we have finished the feasibility study, we need two or three customer nations."

The proposed T-21 turret is intended for installation on T-72 series MBTs, therefore replacing the Soviet-built 125mm gun, and older Western MBTs such as the M60 and the Leopard 1, which are armed with 105mm guns. The T-21 weighs 15 tons compared to 18 tons for the Leclerc turret.

Compared to the Leclerc's autoloader, which carries 22 120mm rounds, the T-21 would carry 18 rounds. Another compromise would be a reduced level of armour protection, as at 15 tons it is not possible to guarantee 360 protection against hollow-charge warheads and protection against kinetic-energy rounds on the frontal arc. To limit weight, frontal protection has been reduced.

The fire-control system is a derivative of that of the Leclerc, as are many other components, while the electronic system is of the open architecture type, allowing easy interfacing with countermeasure and battlefield management systems chosen by the customer.

"We are able to provide nations that have numerous tanks with good chassis and outdated turrets with a modern tank that cost a fraction of that of a new MBT with 120mm armament," said a Giat source. Cost reduction is also linked to maintaining existing logistical support for the chassis, and retaining support equipment such as recovery vehicles and bridgelayers.



France's Giat Industries has teamed with DMD of the Slovak Republic to explore the feasibility of designing a low-profile turret
(Source: Giat)

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