Perspectives of Soviet and Russian wheeled tanks
According to unofficial classification, a wheeled tank is a lightly armored fighting vehicle on a wheel track with heavy armament. In fact, this is a heavy armored car, usually weighing 16-25 t, with cannon armament capable of destroying enemy armored vehicles. In some armies of the world, this combat vehicle is used to support infantry on the battlefield, as a tank destroyer and quite often in local conflicts and counter-terrorist operations.
According to its characteristics, this type of armored vehicles can be attributed to the main and light tanks, assessed by firepower, protection and maneuverability. On protection, a wheeled tank will always be inferior to the main tank due to weight restrictions and the load on the chassis; its protection can only be at the level of a light tank from a rifle weapons and shell fragments.
By firepower, wheeled and light tracked tanks have already approached the main tanks and tank guns are often installed on them. That is, the firepower of all three classes of tanks with modern technology can be made equal, and such samples already exist, for example, the Sprut-SD.
The most interesting question is the throughput and mobility of wheeled tanks, in fact, because of what they can in some cases be in competition with their two fellows. In terms of operational mobility and maneuverability, the wheeled tank has high road performance and advantages in terms of travel range and speed on the highway, solid ground, in lowland conditions, not muddy dirt roads, in areas of developed road infrastructure and urban development.
A wheeled tank can be quickly and easily deployed over fairly long distances under its own power without drastically reducing its resource. Compared to tracked armored vehicles, this is a major advantage. Moreover, they are often floating and can overcome water obstacles without preparation. In this case, the wheeled tank is seriously inferior in terrain to caterpillar brethren in off-road conditions, in autumn and spring thaw, in mountainous and wooded marshes.
Estimating the operational mobility in the columns, especially those consisting of different types of equipment, it is necessary to bear in mind that the speed of movement of the column will be significantly lower than the capabilities of the wheeled tank. In this case, the speed of movement during the day will be 30-40 km / h, and at night, the order of 20-25 km / h. That is, when moving as part of a column, the advantage of a wheeled tank in speed is practically lost.
Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the characteristics of a wheeled tank in comparison with other types of armored vehicles and its advantages in operational mobility in specific conditions of combat use and in a particular theater of military operations.
As examples of the implementation of the wheeled tank concept abroad, the Rooikat heavy armored car, equipped with an 1990-mm cannon and two 76-mm machine guns, was adopted by the South African army. The combat vehicle was intended for reconnaissance, combat armored vehicles, counterguerrilla operations.
The French heavy armored car AMX-10RC was made from 1976 to 1994 year and was in service with the French army. Equipped with a 105-mm cannon and a twin machine gun caliber 7,62 mm. Designed for reconnaissance, combat armored vehicles, used in peacekeeping operations.
The Italian heavy-duty combat vehicle Centauro was manufactured from 1991 to 2006. It was in service with the Italian and Spanish armies. Designed for reconnaissance and combat armored vehicles. It was equipped with a 105-mm cannon, was an option with a 120-mm cannon and two machine guns caliber 7,62 mm.
Received the greatest fame when used in peacekeeping operations in Somalia. Numerous defects were identified, after which the machine has undergone a number of improvements. A batch of these machines was tested in the USA, and in Russia, in 2012, two such machines were tested. They showed low performance and found no further use in the Russian army.
In the Soviet Union, work was also carried out in this direction. The base used Soviet armored personnel carriers. In 1976, a wheeled self-propelled anti-tank gun 70С2 "Sting-S" caliber 14 mm was developed on the basis of the BTR-85. By 1980, the gun successfully passed the full cycle of tests, but was not accepted for service.
By the time the works were completed, this gun did not allow to effectively deal with the new tanks of the enemy. By this time, the Cobra and Reflex guided munitions had already been created for tank guns of the 125 caliber mm, and the Sting-C gun caliber was not suitable for this type of weapon.
In the middle of the 80's, a second attempt was made to create a wheeled tank. In 1984, the development and testing of the Sprut-SD self-propelled anti-tank cannon began. As part of this work, two modifications were developed for the ground forces, the Sprut-CER on the MTLB and 2C28 Sprut-K tracked chassis on the wheeled chassis based on the BTR-90 Rostock.
All modifications of the combat vehicles were to be equipped with an 125-mm tank gun, the most advanced at that time tank sighting system "Irtysh" and guided weapons along the laser beam "Reflex". They all had the opportunity to fire tank ammunition.
This BTR for almost 20 years, was officially adopted, but never launched in the series. Due to the fact that the base chassis did not appear, the work on the Sprut-K was discontinued.
The Sprut-SD airborne self-propelled artillery was more fortunate; after 20 years of development and a test cycle, it was adopted by the Airborne Forces in 2006. This combat vehicle is firepower at the level of the main T-72 and T-90 tanks and is in no way inferior to them, while it was floating and parachuted from an airplane.
For the ground troops "Sprut-K" on a wheeled chassis has not reached, and such a combat vehicle clearly would not hurt. The use of the Sprut-SD for this purpose is hardly advisable, since the machine is complicated due to the specific requirements associated with its airborne landing.
The experience of the self-propelled gun "Sprut-K" and "Sprut-SD" proved the possibility of creating a combat vehicle with heavy armament on a wheeled course with firepower at the level of the main tank. The third attempt to create a wheeled tank was undertaken already in our time on the basis of a new unified wheeled platform "Boomerang", adopted by 2015 in the year to replace the previous generation of armored personnel carriers. On the basis of this platform, tests of the K-16 armored personnel carrier and the K-17 infantry fighting vehicle were developed and are being completed.
Apparently, the concept will be based on the development of the Sprut-K with the use of a cannon and the armament complex of the main tank, which allows it to fire tank ammunition. Such a machine will have the firepower of the main tank, surpass it in maneuverability and speed, while giving in on protection and terrain.
In assessing the need to develop such a machine, first of all, the need of the army for such equipment and its place in the structure of troops should be assessed. According to its characteristics, the wheeled tank cannot replace the main tank on the battlefield as the main striking force of the ground forces, since it does not provide the same protection and maneuverability as the main tank.
It has advantages - it is maneuverable, high-speed and can immediately overcome water obstacles. Therefore, its place in the niche where the main tank can not be effectively used. A wheeled tank is not a battlefield machine, because of poor security and low maneuverability in difficult terrain, it will quickly become easy prey for the enemy.
Due to such advantages as operational maneuverability, high speed of movement on the highway and solid ground, the ability to quickly force water barriers without prior preparation of the reservoir and rapid transfer of armored vehicles over long distances, wheeled tank in certain conditions of application can be effective.
A wheeled tank is unlikely to become a massive war machine. He has a rather specific range of tasks, where his advantages can be used. These are applications in low-intensity local conflicts, participation in peacekeeping and counter-terrorist operations, in reconnaissance, patrols, combat guarding, the elimination of local enemy breakthroughs and threats, in conditions of flat terrain and developed road infrastructure.
Foreign models of wheeled tanks were used in a number of local conflicts and have already shown their strengths and weaknesses. Much clarified the conflicts in the Middle East and especially in Syria, where in conditions of flat terrain mobile groups armed with light-armored vehicles and vehicles with small-caliber guns and machine guns mounted on them showed the greatest efficiency.
Under these conditions, light armored vehicles such as a wheeled tank can really show high efficiency. In addition, light armored vehicles are used there for conducting combat operations in the conditions of urban development, with attendant destruction and debris. Here the wheeled tank is easily defeated due to poor protection. Therefore, it is most advisable to use it in tandem with such armored vehicles as the "Terminator". The combination of maneuverability, powerful weapons and strong protection of these objects of armored vehicles will allow them to be effectively used in combat operations in such specific conditions.
- Yuri Apukhtin
- tankistador.ru, zonwar.ru, bastion-karpenko.ru, tankolet.ru
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