Nexter MG 151 20mm autocannon

Nearly 70 years after it was first produced by Mauser during WWII, the MG 151/20 20mm autocannon is still being manufactured by French firm Nexter. In the below photos it is hooked up to one of those fancy remote control turrets which is mounted to a stripped-down raider version of the Panhards VBL (Véhicule Blindé Léger).

[ Many thanks to Aurelien for proving the photo and information. ]

UPDATE: My mistake. It’s not a remote controlled turret. I mistook the holo/red dot sight for a camera.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • The South Africans produce copies and slightly changed MG151/20 models as well.

    • Sven, thanks for the info.

  • Aurelien

    The Nexter version is also modified, and chambered for the more powerful 20x102mm ammo.

  • Tyson Chandler

    That’s a cool weapon, but I don’t see the point in having a remote controlled turret on a vehicle that is not armored. Why do you need to stay inside to operate it if doing so doesn’t provide any additional protection?

  • Aurelien

    I believe that this turret is a manual version, but Nexter has that same cannon in quite a few remote-controlled setups. The same manual setup is used as the defensive weapon on quite a few French helos, including the last batches of the Caracal.

    • Aurelien, oh, you must be right. I saw the red dot and thought it looked like a camera.

  • Okki

    If you look at most VBL’s, you’ll notice they are pretty well armored:

    My guess is that they used the raider version for the show since it allows for the interior to be showed off better.

    Also, if the turret if gyro stabilized, that means the copilot could fire the cannon while strapped into his/her seat as the vehicle is moving with far greater accuracy compared to a standing gunner.

    Just some thoughts,


  • RP

    I want one for my 2001 BMW 740il!

    Tyson – methinks it was all for the “wow” factor at the usual arms show where they demo this stuff.

  • John

    I was a CROWS (Common Remote Operated Weapons Station, remote control .50 cal M2) during my last deployment to Iraq and there are several advantages, but also several cons to this set up.

    Judging by the picture, there is a optical feed to the gunner, there is one advantage. On the CROWS especially, you have the option of enhanced day zoom camera, or thermal imaging. Integrated with a laser range finder and ballistic computer, if you can see it, you can shoot it.

    Also, coupled with the optics, you have recoil control. If the weapon is clamped down and you are using a video camera to control the firing, you don’t have to worry about jostling the weapon so much. Might have to punch your driver a time or two to keep the vehicle steady, but in general it is a much more stable platform then trying to use the irons, or trying to walk your fire in.

    Cons, reloading is a pain in the posterior. Fixing a jam that can’t be fixed by charging the weapon is as well. You also have a limited field of view using the optics.

    But yes, in general you don’t put a weapon system like that (CROWS costs around $250,000 USD) on an unarmored vehicle. Also, recoil matters. I know that a M2 on a CROWS mount made the humvee shake like two teenagers in the back of a van. With a 20mm? I don’t even want to know.

    Just my .02 cents.

  • Harald Hansen

    That is almost certainly not a remote weapon station. There are no sensors (i.e. cameras), and there is no room to hide the powerful actuators needed to swing a hundred kg of autocannon around. It is a regular ring mount.

    And Mr. Chandler is right in thinking that an unarmoured vehicle do not need a remote weapon station. The main advantage is under-armour use. Although thermal sights, laser range finders, stabilisation and a ballistics computer are nice to have on any vehicle.

  • I know that France used the MG 151 for a long time after WW2, lastly as a helicopter gun. However, since the 1960s GIAT (now Nexter) has been manufacturing a light vehicle, naval and aircraft cannon in 20×102 calibre, now designated 20M621, which according to a GIAT information sheet I have (and Jane’s Naval Weapons, which describes the mechanism in detail) is gas-operated rather than recoil-operated like the MG 151. That looks like the one in the photos. It is essentially a smaller version of the 20M693 in 20×139 calibre.

    Anyway, the MG 151 would have to be more than just modified to upgrade from 20×82 to 20×102 – the cartridge is wider as well as longer and develops almost twice the muzzle energy.

  • Alan

    Why dont we have something like that on a HMMWV?

  • Tux

    Are we sure that’s a remote turret? Looking at the enlarged image, you can see that it has a trigger, and what looks to be a sight. Also, stripped down as this vehicle is, I’d think you could see more… I dunno, workings under the weapon itself.

  • GeoffH

    Tyson, my guess would be you are higher up, and therefore an easier target if you are manning the cannon manually. Maybe there are auto stabilizers or some other technical advancement that makes remote operation more effective as well.

  • Lance

    Just what they need on Humvee s in Afghanistan.

  • Big Daddy

    I fired a 50 cal, I would not to be behind a 20mm firing it from such a light vehicle. Even the M-113 felt like it was being twisted by the torque of the 50 cal.

  • BTW, “Véhicule Blindé Léger” means “light armored vehicle”

  • William C.

    Looks like an interesting alternative to the usual .50 cal. However I personally think something like the M230LW or ASP-30 (possibly with airburst ammunition) would be better on a vehicle.

  • I can think of so many fun things to do with that setup!

  • Greetings from Texas,
    You notice how the classics never go out of style?

  • ParatrooperJJ

    Any on the NFA registry?

  • W

    this would be nice to have on a stryker or M113 (which, by the way, is unaffected by even heavy weapons like the 50 cal). For operations like afghanistan, i couldnt think of a better weapon.