To begin with: to the joy of the tankers, we will state that the tank is still the most really useful and formidable combat vehicle on the land battlefield. This was and is the main percussion instrument, it is the support of the advancing infantry and so on.
The fact that from the beginning of his fighting career in the First World War and to our time the tank has traveled just a huge distance along the evolutionary ladder, no one calls into question. However, there are moments that it would be worth talking about, because suddenly there was a realization that "everything is somehow wrong."
This is perhaps the second most important component tank. Or about the first, it’s hard to say here, which is more important: armor or weapons. For the tank works in battle, and that, and others, and, I repeat, it is difficult to say which is more important.
If you carefully look at how tanks are used today and how they fight, one can say the following: in fact, the development of weapons, if it did not stop, is slowed down in full.
Let's see how rich, as they say, we and our potential.
Since 1970, the main weapon for us has been the 2A46 gun, which has passed fire and water modifications, that is, the 2A46M and 2A75 variants. And installed on the T-64A. Then there were T-72, T-80, T-90. And only for "Almaty" and T-90M developed 2A82, the same caliber of 125 mm, which is more likely an exception to the rule.
But because our potential is doing just the same.
Americans and Germans using the Rheinmetall or Rh120 120-mm tank gun did not last that long, but also quite a while: since 1979. And nothing, the latest versions of "Abrams" and "Leopard-2" quite normally operate with this gun.
The British L30 is younger, since 1989, but in fact it is L11A2, originally from the same late 70s, and language does not turn out to be called successful. Yes, the French CN120-26 looks newer, but even she of their 80s, just waiting for a tank for a long time.
But in general, the situation is peculiar: only the Frenchwoman CN120-26 and our 2A82 can be called new with a stretch. With a very big stretch. And over the past 40-50 years, no changes have occurred, even the calibers have remained the same.
Although the plans we had a replacement for 152 mm in the 90s of the last century, in response to potential planned change to 140 mm, but the collapse of the USSR put an end to everything. As a result, we remained 125 mm, just changed the type of guns for the T-14 and T-90M.
In general, the T-14 could well be equipped with a 152-mm gun, the so-called 2A83, but what can we say about this, if we can count the standard T-14 on our fingers.
So if evolution is to be sought somewhere, it’s in shells. This is logical, since in terms of calibers and the guns themselves the military developers are completely silent, then there is only one hope for the shells.
And here everything is simple. All the last 40 years. The main thing is to take the BOPS, the armor-piercing feathered sub-caliber projectile, to disperse it well in the long barrel of the tank gun so that it gains good kinetic energy, and the rest will be done by the physicist for you.
The best way to sentence a tank from a long distance. At close range, RPG-7 and its descendants with a cumulative charge are still good, but at long range ...
At the far end, scrap is still good, against which it is bad in terms of reception. The only question is the material. Germans have always loved tungsten, Americans prefer depleted uranium. However, uranium is the destiny of those who have their own nuclear energy.
As for our army, we have both tungsten scrap and uranium. But they prefer to shoot uranium only at special training grounds. To avoid.
Kinetic energy, as you know, depends on the velocity of the projectile. Speed is achieved by comprehensive work on explosives, a gun and the shape of a shell. Well, the main shamanism is the core material.
It is known that uranium has a density of 19,05 g / cm3, which is 2,5 times more than that of steel. Since uranium is heavier, it also gains energy in a larger volume than any other material. In addition, uranium is a very solid material, it is easy for him to flash any armor from any material. And since the thermal conductivity of uranium is also very low, and the projectile does not expand from friction, like others, the penetration is higher.
Plus such a useful property as the pyrophoricity of uranium dust, which is formed when a shell penetrates armor. This dust easily flares up, adding problems to the crew.
Well, the main plus is that uranium is just free raw materials, since in essence it is just waste from the nuclear industry.
True, it’s conditionally free, because not only is it “slightly” fonit in terms of radioactivity, it is also poisonous. So working with him is not as easy as we would like. The Germans prefer not to bother.
Tungsten is slightly denser than uranium - 19,25 g / cm3. A little over 1%. And it also has its own superbonus: a high melting point, 2,6 times more than that of uranium.
At the moment of contact with the armor, when enormous temperatures act on the core, uranium scrap can partially lose its hardness. There is such a term: "swim" from the heat. But tungsten at temperatures ...
The disadvantage of tungsten is the cost. Advantages - working with it is somewhat easier, and the lack of a radioactive background is such a nice bonus.
It is clear that in this situation, the designers of all countries are cast out, whoever can with BOPS.
There are quite a few methods, by the way. Different plumage, flight stabilizers, armor-piercing caps of various shapes and from different materials. Although basically the task for everyone is the same: to make scrap as thin and strong as possible. Plus, there is a length limit dictated by the combat laying of the tank itself. Plus, automatic loaders (who have it) also require attention from designers. So that you do not have to cram the unshielded. But yes, the AZ is demanding on the size of the projectile, because the projectile cannot be very long. In short, it should fit in size.
Therefore, the task of inventing a projectile with fundamentally new characteristics for an existing gun is comparable to the development of a new gun, or maybe even more complicated.
Even if we take as an example our main BPS “Mango”, which was created back in the USSR in the 80s, and which simply cannot be called modern. Nevertheless, this charm, created just for Abrams, is far from tungsten scrap with the possibility of acceleration to 2M.
A ballistic cowl, behind which an armor-piercing cap is hidden, followed by a damper that allows you to turn the projectile (normalize) when hit at an angle, only after all this are two cores made of an alloy of tungsten, nickel and steel. The total length of the cores is 420 millimeters, and the thickness is only 18 millimeters, the size of the active part of the entire BPS is 574 millimeters. Well, of course, stabilizing plumage and 3,4 kilograms of additional charge.
When shooting from two kilometers, "Mango" ideally pierces 450 millimeters of homogeneous armor, and at an angle of 60 degrees - 230 millimeters.
The shell was modernized not so long ago, it turned out "Mango-M", or, as it is jokingly called, "Mango-Mango". The total length of the cores increased to 610 mm, armor increased to 560 mm, and at an angle of 60 degrees - 280 mm.
Considering how many Soviet / Russian tanks are riding around the world, a good idea with an eye on exports. The new Mango will easily sew the Abrams board, and those who are in the tower will not have to sweetly, if you observe the angle. 45 degrees or less - and hello to the towers!
There is also a “Pattern." An interesting projectile, with very advanced characteristics on the one hand and with some constant inarticulate problems in production.
ZBM-44 “Lekalo” seems to have been adopted by the end of the 90s, but the army never received them in sane quantities. All the same tungsten core, armor penetration - 650 millimeters in a straight line and about 320 at an angle of 60 degrees. But some crumbs in terms of release and complete incomprehensibility. Information flashed that the Ministry of Defense ordered 2000 of these shells. In fact - BC for fifty tanks. So think whether it is useful or not.
Yes, better than Mango, but why so little?
Meanwhile, armored piercing shells M829A2 and M829A3 that have already entered service with the U.S. Army can boast of 740 and 770-800 mm armor penetration, which is very unpleasant.
And according to foreign military experts, the completely new M829E4 BOPs are capable of piercing up to 850-900 mm of steel equivalent at a distance of 2000-2500 m.
It is clear that the modern concept of battle does not provide for battles, as near Prokhorovka, but nonetheless. The practice of using tanks in the Donbass has shown that a duel is quite possible, especially with local skirmishes that have under them control over territories and settlements.
How to answer the tanks of "potential" is a question. The greater the range of BOPS, the more likely it is to hit an enemy tank and survive.
Yes, now those who are thinking will say: what about “Lead”?
Yes, Lead. More precisely, three "Lead".
Just "Lead" is already in stories, since it was created all in the same 80s of the last century. Tungsten carbide core, length 635 mm. Penetration from two kilometers along the normal is 650 millimeters and 320 at an angle of 60 degrees. Very good for its time. For the 21st century - well, so-so.
But the base turned out to be what is needed with great potential for refinement / modernization. And already in Russia “Lead-1” and “Lead-2” appeared.
Lead-1 with a tungsten core pierces 700-740 millimeters of homogeneous steel.
"Lead-2" with a core made of an alloy of tungsten and uranium pierces 800-830 millimeters.
In general, you don’t even have to think about where to shoot at the corps, since it doesn’t matter where - it must break through. And with a minimally good set of circumstances, the tower will say "give up."
Despite the fact that the length of the ammunition approaches critically inconvenient for domestic AZs, these tanks can shoot all the tanks that we have in service: T-72 with all letters after the numbers, T-80 and T-90. By the way, if you really need to - and the T-14 can “swing” with Lead.
I could not, alas, find information on why Lead was not in the series. It seems that the tests were not just successful, but very successfully shot in 2016, and ... And the Ministry of Defense orders a little “Lekalo”.
Meanwhile, “Lead” is actually the only ammunition that NATO tanks must fear to cramp. And all without exception. Even though the T-72B3 will fire.
Now the knowledgeable will say about the "Vacuum". Say yes. About SuperBOPS, capable of destroying everything armored, invented in the world today.
This is actually scrap, against which I do not see anything. You can talk about various DZ systems, about equivalents, but scrap, dispersed to God knows how many meters per second, is also scrap in Africa.
But the creation of this projectile in the 90s also testified to the fact that, when creating the “Vacuum”, the designers obviously worked “on the table”, since it was unrealistic to shove a meter-long munition into the existing AZ transporters.
And the "Vacuum" would lie in promising developments (and he lay there) until they came up with the aforementioned 2A82 and 2A82-1M, the AZs of which could just work with meter-sized saplings.
In the tests, the "Vacuum-1" confidently punched 900 millimeters of the armor from two kilometers when hit normal. And this is more than serious.
Abrams of the latest modifications in the thickest place of the tower has a protection equivalent to 900–950 millimeters of homogeneous steel. "Merkava" boasts an armor of 900 millimeters. This is like the most stubborn guys, so what? And he must take their "Vacuum". Or even if they don’t take it, the crew will disperse the stars from the helmets for a long time.
But, alas, everything is broken by piece picking with "Armata". There is no need for a tank, and there is no need for Vacuums. Both.
Although, if 2A82 is installed in the T-90M, and this is quite possible, the gun will easily enter, you just need to tinker with the AZ, then the shell will receive a residence permit and the right to life.
Shells. Since “Vacuum-1” is a good old tungsten alloy, and “Vacuum-2,” you guessed it, is from uranium.
And even more often they began to speak out loud about the "lead", but so far nothing to say about it, most likely, this is again a promising development for the 152 mm caliber.
Actually, what further to muddle the water, we don’t have trunks for both “Vacuums” in order to master them. The release of the T-90M and T-1 is such a sad matter in quantitative terms that the main combat mass as T-72, and will be in the next 15-20 years. And “Lead” will be for them for happiness. If it (Lead) is put on the stream at all.
If you look at the future, then perhaps it is not. And the point is not that there is either money or mind to release new shells. The thing is again in physics.
You can not constantly increase the energy of the projectile due to speed. Beyond the speed limit of 2 km / s, the core begins to collapse in a collision with armor without an effective increase in armor penetration. And further experiments with propelling charges become really useless. There will be no development.
Continuing to increase the length / weight of the core is also unlikely to succeed. One and a half meter BOPS will require a new tower and a new AZ, since it is impossible to shove it into the old ones. And in the cramped tank interior with such a durovine not turn around if something happens. In case of refusal of the AZ as in Abrams.
Other alloys ... Maybe. Other materials, too. But this work is not for one decade, as it seems to me.
In general, of course, by and large, while the shell defeats the armor. And he will do it for some time. But just in our case, a situation is very possible when the pace of development of gunpowder and shells simply lag behind the pace of development of armor.
And only then, but we will get a new qualitative leap. That is what I wrote about at the beginning of the article. Transition to a new caliber. And there is something to think about, because the 2A83 monster about 152 mm will easily rip off anyone’s tower.
But it will be a completely different story.
In the meantime, the apparent lag in equipping our tanks with modern BOPS is still, in the language of diplomacy, “causing concern”. But this is only for now.