Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) successfully qualified its M2005 Velocity Enhanced Artillery Projectile (VLAP) for an undisclosed international client.
Defence Web reported that the qualification was completed from a PzH2000 155 mm/52-calibre howitzer, which narrows the client to Germany, the Netherlands, Croatia, Lithuania, Italy, Greece or Qatar. It should be noted that Qatar is currently the only non-NATO PzH2000 user.
The RDM M2005 VLAP has a maximum range of 54 km at sea-level. It is based on RDM’s Assegai series of 155 mm shells. The M2005 possesses a natural fragmenting high explosive (HE) warhead, rocket motor and base bleed unit. The M2005 is compatible with 39, 45 and 52-calibre howitzers, which means that it could be deployed from lightweight howitzers, such as the BAE Systems M777.
As per RDM, the M2005 is in full-scale production.
Founded in 2008, RDM is jointly owned by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH (51%) and South Africa’s Denel Group (49%). In April 2016, Saudi Arabia opened an ordnance factory, which it built in collaboration with RDM for U.S. $240 million.
Notes & Comments:
With a maximum sea-level range of 54 km, the M2005 VLAP provides artillery forces with stand-off range capability. It is emerging as a competitive stand-alone product, but adds to the viability of the Denel Land Systems T5-52 wheeled self-propelled howitzer (SPH), provided the client can access both systems.
It will be interesting if VLAP shells are a factor in Pakistan’s ongoing wheeled SPH program, which has the Denel T5-52 and Yugoimport-SDPR as the leading competitors. Yugoimport-SDPR also has a 155 mm VLAP shell under development. These SPHs with VLAP shells would provide a significant qualitative boost to the Pakistan Army’s artillery forces in terms of mobility and striking range.
Long-term considerations – for RDM and prospective clients alike – could involve other trends, such as INS/GPS and semi-active laser-guided shells. Besides the fact that the wider industry is already shifting to guided-shells (e.g. Raytheon Excalibur), it would fit with increasingly ubiquitous network-enabled armies.