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PELE (Penetrator with Enhanced Lateral Effectiveness) rounds are a new type of ordnance developed by Rheinmetall in the late nineties and early two thousands. As the patent shows, they are similar in outward appearance to traditional long-rod penetrators, but are different in cross section: The basic principle of a PELE is that the outer walls of the penetrator are made of a denser material than the core. At the extremely high velocities that the penetrator strikes the target, density (rather than material strength) is one of the most important factors in determining penetration. So the outer walls are able to penetrate the target, but the inner core is not. The outer walls of the penetrator continue moving forward, which compresses the inner core. This presentation from ATK has a helpful diagram: As this Rheinmetall presentation shows, this gives much greater behind armor effect than a traditional long rod penetrator: This new ammunition is available both in large-caliber and autocannon calibers. Compared to traditional high explosive rounds, PELE rounds have the advantage that there is no explosive material in the penetrator. This means that there is no UXO risk at training ranges. Additionally, a tank with APFSDS and PELE ammunition types would be able to tackle most target types. If the ammunition were two-piece, then the inert APFSDS and PELE penetrators could be stored in the turret while the propellant charges could be stored separately in isolation. Britain's chieftain MBT used an ammunition stowage scheme like this, keeping inert APDS projectiles in the turret and propellant bags underneath the turret ring in wet ammunition containers. An ammunition stowage scheme like this would have the advantages of isolated ammunition stowage, but would require a less bulky isolated section of the tank, which often adds to the silhouette of the vehicle (e.g. abrams' enormous turret bustle). The biggest disadvantage of PELE compared to traditional high explosive rounds is that the rounds do not fragment unless they hit something hard. As the presentations above show, the 120mm rounds will produce considerable fragmentation patterns after hitting something as light as 10mm of sheet metal, but they still need to hit something. So airburst or proximity fused options are out.
First off, hello everyone. First time posting here. At one point in time, shaped charges were said to make armour irrelevant, as they could penetrate large amounts of steel armour -- more armour than could be practically applied to tanks. But then came complex composite armours, which greatly diminished the penetrative power of shaped charges and spurred the development of APFSDS rounds utilizing long rods of dense metals at high velocities to perforate the armour. Since then, it has been conventional wisdom that APFSDS munitions were the most efficient anti-weapons, at least for penetrating the thick frontal armour of MBTs. The HEAT rounds of MBTs nowadays being designed more for multi-purpose use than to maximize penetration. However, since their introduction onto the battlefield, shaped charge rounds have enjoyed a steadily increasing efficiency, defined as the amount of calibers of RHA it can penetrate per charge diameter. Early shaped charges could only penetrate 1 or 2 times its charge diameter, but that number has continually increased over time. Top end ATGMs in service can currently penetrate 7 or 8 times its diameter, while experimental shaped charges have been developed that can penetrate 10 times its diameter (http://www.vif2ne.org/forum/0/arhprint/1028580). Current APFSDS rounds, on the other hand, cannot achieve the same degree of penetration (into RHA). APFSDS rounds such as the DM63 or M829A3 are often estimated as having around 6 calibers of penetration. However, these estimations are usually achieved using the Odermatt equation, which is a perforation equation, and often against an oblique plate. Shaped charges on the other hand, are often tested for their penetration into a vertical plate of semi-infinite RHA. So not only is high end shaped charge penetration higher than for a given caliber than long rods, but the estimates for long rods are perforation estimates, which serves to inflate their numbers a bit compared to a 'fair' comparison. So it could be said that current APFSDS rounds only penetrate 5 calibers into semi-infinite RHA. It is commonly known that modern composite armours are much more efficient against shaped charges than they are against long rods... but aren't shaped charges capable of penetrating much more armour in the first place? Shaped charges are expected to be able to penetrate atleast 10 times their own caliber. For long rods to be more efficient, the shaped charge RHA equivalent protection must be over twice that of the KE protection. Is that expected to be the case? The purpose of my creation of this thread was to hopefully get some thoughts as to whether shaped charges may become comparable to long rods in efficiency in terms of frontal penetration of MBTs (where they have the most advanced armour) in the future. Of course, given the classified nature of much of this information I'm not expecting definitive answer. But the users here seem rather knowledgeable, so I'd like to hear their thoughts none-the-less.