Light tank M8. Photo BAE Systems
In 2015, the U.S. Army launched the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. Its goal is to create a promising “lung tank»With the maximum possible firepower and mobility, as well as with a combat weight of not more than 35-38 tons. In the future, such equipment will have to supplement the main M1 Abrams tanks, the subsequent modernization of which led to an increase in mass and a decrease in mobility. In addition, the MPF program can be seen as an attempt to create an answer to the Russian self-propelled gun Sprut-SD.
In the context of challenges and answers, three types of armored vehicles will have to be considered: the Russian self-propelled anti-tank gun (SPTP) 2C25 Sprut-SD, as well as the American armored vehicles BAE Systems M8 MPF and General Dynamics Griffin II. Moreover, their consideration and comparison must begin with some reservations.
The MPF program’s armored vehicles are positioned as a light tank, but the combat weight is limited to “only” 38 tons. In the past, medium and main tanks weighed so much, and this fact gives rise to ambiguous estimates or irony. Russian "Octopus-SD" in our classification is considered a model of self-propelled artillery intended for airborne troops. However, foreign experts often call it a light tank, which is facilitated by a combination of basic characteristics.
There is a curious situation. Formally, three products do not belong to the same class, but in fact they are close to each other. And accordingly, they can and should be compared - at least according to the declared tactical and technical characteristics and combat capabilities.
One of the experimental tanks GD Griffin II. Photo US Army
Both American light tanks receive modular armor, affecting the actual combat weight. Depending on the level of protection, they can weigh up to 30 tons or more. Engine parameters are not specified, but it was reported that the M8 and Griffin II are able to show high mobility and mobility in all landscapes. In addition, they surpass the later versions of Abrams in such characteristics.
SPTP 2S25 in the basic version weighs only 18 tons and is equipped with a 2V-06-2C diesel engine with a capacity of 510 hp. Power density over 28 hp per ton provides acceleration to 70 km / h and the ability to swim at 9 km / h. The power unit in combination with an individual hydropneumatic suspension provides good dynamic performance and high throughput. A new modification 2S25M "Octopus-SDM1" has been developed, which is still at the testing stage. It has a different chassis with similar technical and improved performance.
All samples in question can be transported by military transport aircraft. However, the American "light tanks", due to the large mass, cannot be parachuted - in contrast to the Russian "Octopus-SD." In addition, it should be borne in mind that the smaller mass simplifies transportation by all means of transport and gives other advantages.
The light tank from BAE Systems was developed on the basis of the M8 armored car from the nineties. It is likely that the main technical solutions of the old project, including in terms of protection, moved to a new one. So, the old M8 had an aluminum armor case, additionally covered by various types of mounted modules. In the basic configuration, bulletproof and anti-shatter protection were provided, and with the most powerful modules the M8 withstood small-caliber armor-piercing shells. Perhaps the new version of the M8 for MPF shows similar characteristics - however, accurate data on this subject has not yet been announced.
SPTP 2S25 "Sprut-SD". Photo by Vitalykuzmin.net
As a platform for Griffin II, the ASCOD 2 multi-purpose chassis with bulletproof steel armor is used. The hull and turret can also be supplemented by overhead blocks providing protection from shells. At the same time, as in the case of a competing project, the installation of additional armor increases the dimensions and weight of the tank, up to the limit provided by the technical specifications.
"Octopus-SD" has an aluminum body and a dome of the tower with steel reinforcement of the frontal projection. The forehead of the hull and turret withstands hit by 12,7 mm bullets, the remaining projections protect against weapons normal caliber. The chassis for the upgraded "Octopus-SDM1" is based on the BMD-4 and also has aluminum armor. As far as we know, the installation of additional modules is not provided, however, this allows you to keep the dimensions and weight at the required level and not impair mobility - one of the main survivability factors.
The new version of the M8 tank receives a 105 mm M35 rifled gun with an ammunition load of 45 shots and an automatic loader. It also provides for the installation of a coaxial machine gun, a remotely controlled combat module on the tower and smoke grenade launchers. The customer requires the use of a modern fire control system that provides actions day and night, including in hunter-killer mode.
Griffin II has a slightly different set of weapons. "Main caliber" - 105-mm gun. Instead of a DBM, the commander’s hatch has an open turret under a heavy machine gun. As can be judged by the prototypes, the General Dynamics project provides for the use of a panoramic command sight. It should be part of a modern and perfect SLA.
Under construction M8 demonstrate leadership of the Ministry of the army. Photo US Army
SPTP 2C25 line equipped with a 125-mm smoothbore gun-launcher 2A75 - modification of the tank 2A46. There is an automatic loader with 22 cartridges, another 18 rounds of separate-shell loading are in "manual" styling. In terms of ammunition, the 2A75 cannon is fully unified with the 2A46 - it can use a wide range of shots, including guided missiles. Additional weapons include one or two PKT machine guns (2C25 and 2C25M, respectively). The MSA provides observation and search for targets day and night, as well as firing using any available ammunition.
It is easy to see that among the three samples under consideration there is no unequivocal leader. Any of them outperforms others in some respects and lags behind others. In addition, there is a significant difference in the age of the projects, the proposed role on the battlefield, etc.
From the point of view of mobility and mobility, the SPTR "Sprut-SD" is the clear leader. This machine is lighter than two MPFs, making it easier to use higher power density. In addition, it can not only be transported by air, but also parachuted on a parachute system. Thus, there are great advantages in tactical and strategic mobility.
However, the severity of the two American "light tanks" is due to the presence of powerful protection - and in this regard, the M8 and Griffin II bypass the Russian self-propelled guns. "Octopus-SD" is protected only from large-caliber bullets, while foreign models with mounted modules can withstand shells. Which of the tanks of the MPF program is better protected is unknown. Moreover, the available data and the appearance of the additional reservation do not allow to determine such characteristics of the equipment.
Griffin II from a different angle. Photo US Army
A curious situation is developing in the field of armaments. The 125A2 75-mm smoothbore gun is definitely superior to the M35 products of American tanks. It compares favorably with caliber and energy, as well as a range of compatible ammunition. The use of shells and missiles allows you to confidently hit targets at ranges of several kilometers.
Despite all the progress in the context of 105-mm tank guns, the M8 and Griffin II look very weak against the background of the "Octopus-SD". However, they can be distinguished by a newer and more advanced SLA. American firms are recognized leaders in this area, and MPF tanks can have advantages in target detection and guidance, which partially offset the loss in gun power.
The reasons for these differences are obvious. SPTP 2S25 "Octopus-SD" and the modernized 2S25M were created for the airborne forces and according to their characteristic requirements. The latter provided for restrictions on dimensions and combat weight, which ultimately affected the level of protection. American MPFs are created for the ground forces, which do not have such stringent requirements. The available stock of mass was used to improve protection and solve other problems.
In the current situation, American industry is able to evaluate foreign developments and take the necessary measures. In practice, this leads to the fact that the new MPF tanks have significant advantages of various kinds over the older "Octopus-SD." On the other hand, the US Army finds itself in the position of catching up, trying to adapt to new challenges.
The present of Russian self-propelled guns is well known, and their prospects are defined. The troops have several dozen serial "Sprut-SD", and in the near future the appearance of new machines "Octopus-SDM1" is expected. Such equipment suits the customer, remains in service and will not leave the army in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the possibility of new modernizations, including taking into account the development of foreign designs.
The modernized "Octopus-SDM1". Photo by Tractor Plants / tplants.com
With Mobile Protected Firepower, things get more complicated. At the moment, it is at the stage of production of experimental equipment. Until September, two participating companies must submit for testing 12 light tanks in a complete set and 2 buildings for testing reservations. After that, the army will hold the necessary events and choose a more successful model. Which of the tanks will be chosen is unknown.
According to current plans, the selected winner of the MPF program by 2025 will go into series and reach operation in the army. By this time in our country the appearance of serial SPTP 2S25M is expected. However, this will not be the only novelty of this decade in the Russian army. It is possible that next time the light tank MPF will have to be compared with the main T-14. And it seems that the results of such a comparison are obvious and predictable.