Military Review

Development of modern MBT. Samples and trends


Tank M1A2 SEP v. 2 Abrams. US Army Photos

In recent years, developed countries have intensified processes to create fundamentally new tanks, but, despite this, the vehicles of the third post-war generation remain the basis of the armored forces. Main battle tanks are regularly upgraded with the introduction of modern solutions and components, which allows them to maintain their characteristics at a high level, corresponding to current challenges.

"Third package"

The American MBT M1 Abrams entered service almost 40 years ago, and since then there have been several major and fundamental upgrades. The latest version of the updated "Abrams" was previously designated as M1A2 SEP v.3, and now carries the M1A2C index. Not so long ago, the serial modernization of equipment for this project began.

The SEP v.3 project proposed measures to enhance protection and increase survivability. For this purpose, additional armor blocks are installed on the turret's forehead and on the bottom. Other elements of the frontal and side projections are covered with reactive armor ARAT (Abrams Reactive Armor Tile); the entire tank is guarded by the active Trophy defense. Based on the operating experience of previous modifications, the auxiliary power unit was removed to the engine compartment, under the protection of armor. The performance is enhanced by the VHMS (Vehicle Health Management System) diagnostic system.

The main armament remains the same, but receives an improved fire control system. Thermal imaging devices and some other electronics are under replacement. The ADL (Ammunition Data Link) device is being introduced into the LMS to work with programmable fuses. New types of shells for various purposes are introduced into the ammunition load. A low-profile combat module CROWS RWS with a machine gun is mounted on the roof of the tower.

Upgraded M1A2 SEP v.3 / M1A2C. US Army Photos

According to the results of the latest MBT upgrade, the M1A2 gains weight and loses mobility, but receives enhanced protection and improved survivability. The updated LMS gives advantages in target detection and weapon guidance; new types of projectiles should provide an effective solution to all combat missions. Serial upgrades have already been launched, M1A2Cs are still being produced only for the US Army.

Updated "Leopard"

Throughout its stories German tank Leopard 2 regularly underwent modernization with various innovations. In 2019, the supply of MBTs began, serially updated for the Leopard 2A7V project (the designation "2A7 +" was previously used). It is argued that such modernization provides an increase in tactical, technical and economic characteristics.

In terms of protection, the new Leopard 2A7V differs from the previous 2A7 in enhanced mine protection and Saab Barracuda multispectral camouflage coating. Combat stability should be affected by the introduction of the APU with internal deployment and a number of other systems. For the greater convenience of tankers, a climate control system is used.

Tanks of modifications "2A6" and "2A7" in the course of modernization must retain the 120-mm smooth-bore gun of the L55 modification. On older machines, it is proposed to replace the guns with modern L55A1. New shells are being introduced into the ammunition load, incl. fragmentation ammunition with a programmable fuse. The MSA is being replaced by a full-fledged IFIS combat information management system. It includes Airbus ATTICA thermal imaging sights, MKM programmer, etc.

Tank Leopard 2A7. Photo KMW /

In terms of characteristics, the newest Leopard 2A7V corresponds to the previous modification "2A7", but at the same time it receives a number of new features. Such innovations mainly affect the fighting qualities of equipment and bring them in line with modern requirements. At the same time, the project allows for the modernization of equipment of various modifications, incl. fairly old MBT Leopard 2A4. Currently, German tanks are being upgraded to "2A7V"; there is a similar order from Denmark.

Russian "Breakthrough"

The newest Russian model of the third generation is the T-90M "Breakthrough" MBT, which has recently entered the series. This modernization project affects all major areas and leads to a sharp increase in combat and operational qualities. An important feature of the T-90M is the use of a number of components borrowed from the fundamentally new T-14 tank of the next fourth generation.

The T-90M features improved protection. Outside, the building is covered with a modern "Relikt" DZ and lattice screens; installation of KAZ is possible. The internal volumes have been rearranged and equipped with anti-splinters, which reduces the risks to people and units. A tower of a new design with a developed aft niche was used. The tank receives a V-92S2F engine and an auxiliary power unit. Due to this, the increase in mass is compensated and the same mobility is maintained.

The main armament is the 2A46M gun, which is compatible with shells and guided missiles of various types. In the past, the possibility of installing a more advanced 2A82-1M cannon with increased combat characteristics was mentioned. Used modern fire control system "Kalina" with combined sights of the gunner and commander. There is a DBM with a large-caliber machine gun.

The first modernized Leopard 2A7V at the handover ceremony, October 2019 Photo by the German Ministry of Defense

The T-90M project is intended to update and improve the T-90 and T-90A MBTs, bringing their characteristics to meet the current requirements. The project developers and the military are talking about a significant increase in the overall combat effectiveness of the modernized tank, and such opportunities will be actively used. The first T-90Ms have already entered the troops; Since 2017, several contracts have been signed for the production and modernization of 160 tanks.

"99" from the PRC

Since the beginning of the century, China has been building Type 99 MBT of various modifications. The most perfect is "99A", however, it has already reached the need for modernization. According to foreign sources, in the tenth years in the PRC were created modernization projects "Type 99A1" and "Type 99A2" with various innovations.

The main direction of development in projects with the letter "A" is the strengthening of protection, primarily the frontal projection. Initially, an updated and improved front of the hull was introduced, then various variants of dynamic protection were introduced. The latest modifications are of a built-in type. In addition, Type 99A2 can be equipped with KAZ. The most important feature of MBT "99" is the JD-3 laser optical suppression system. With the help of a high-power laser, the enemy's optics or organs of vision are destroyed.

In the course of all the upgrades, the Type 99 retained the Type 125 98 mm cannon, a copy of the 2A46M. The gun can use unlicensed copies of Russian shells and proprietary rounds. The complex of guided weapons has been preserved. It is reported that in the latest modernization projects "Type 99" received a full-fledged BIUS with combined sights and other modern equipment.

Russian T-90 before modernization. Photo

"Type 99" was originally a typical modern MBT, created taking into account all foreign developments and ideas. Its modernization projects are also similar to foreign ones - they provide for the replacement of equipment without radical reworking of the hull, power plant, etc. At the same time, for the first time in world practice, a Chinese tank received a laser weapon.

Upgraded "Lightning"

In the coming years, the Israel Defense Forces will continue to operate the MBT "Merkava Mk IV", and this equipment will receive a new upgrade, dubbed "Barak" ("Lightning"). The approach to upgrading tanks offered in this project is very interesting. The focus is on upgrading the onboard electronics to ensure that key performance increases.

The armor of the Merkava Mk IV Barak tank does not change and corresponds to the basic design. Also, KAZ "Meil Ruach", introduced during one of the previous modernizations, is preserved. At the same time, the need to modernize the KAZ was mentioned in order to increase the automation of work and, accordingly, combat effectiveness. The safety of the crew is proposed to be improved through new means of vision. The commander will no longer need to conduct surveillance through an open hatch, which has been a serious problem for many years.

The latest modifications of the Merkava Mk IV have 46 computers and computing systems for various purposes. "Barak" also receives the so-called. computer tasks with elements of artificial intelligence. It will receive data about the environment from sensors and from other vehicles, process them and issue ready information to the commander. At the expense of the "task computer" it is planned to increase the speed of detection and identification of targets, the generation of data for fire, etc. In addition, it will reduce the burden on the commander.

The first serial T-90M in the Taman division, April 2020. Photo by the Russian Ministry of Defense

The main observation tool for the crew will be the IronVision system. It includes a set of cameras outside the tank, signal processing devices and helmet-mounted crew monitors. With its help, tankers can literally look through the armor. Tank crews' jobs are being modernized. New systems are being introduced to make driving easier. The training of tankers will also be simplified. For this, a "virtual reality" mode is envisaged, in which computers simulate a real combat situation and issue the corresponding picture and data to the crew consoles.

Protection and fire characteristics of the MBT "Merkava Mk IV" generally meet the requirements of the IDF. For this reason, the modernization of the tank is now carried out by replacing and rebuilding the electronic equipment - using the most modern technologies. However, the real results of the Barak project will appear later. The updated tank will be accepted into service only in 2021, and then the modernization of the available vehicles will be launched.

Development trends

The third generation MBT remain relevant and retain their place in the armored forces. The leading tank-building powers continue to develop their equipment and bring it in line with current goals and objectives. At the same time, both general trends and unique solutions are observed.

Almost all of the MBT considered in the course of modernization receive additional means of protection. This is due to the experience of local conflicts in recent decades, which showed and confirmed certain problems with the stability and survivability of tanks. To increase these parameters, new armor blocks are being introduced, DZ is being improved and KAZ is being installed.

Tank "Type 99" at the exhibition. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The only exception is the "Merkava Mk IV" - this MBT already has developed protection, taking into account the threats on its characteristic battlefields. However, the Barak project also provides for the improvement of active protection and other measures that reduce risks to the crew.

Customers and developers prefer to keep the existing weapons. The increase in combat qualities is provided by ammunition with increased characteristics. The main trend in this area is ammunition with a programmable fuse. There is also a constant development of the LMS and even the creation of full-fledged BIUS. Network-centric technologies are also being developed that directly affect combat effectiveness.

In the context of onboard electronics, the MBT "Merkava Mk IV Barak" looks the most interesting. It looks like this is the first modern tank to receive a computer with AI elements to unload the crew. Other innovations are also of great interest. It is possible that the Israeli innovations will pay off, and in the future new foreign tanks will also receive similar equipment.

Goals and objectives

It is curious that due to similar ideas and solutions, tank builders solve different problems. New projects provide the growth of certain characteristics, but the goals of such work in different countries are different - and affect the overall development processes of tank building.

"Type 99A" at the parade. Photo Wikimedia Commons

So, the American projects of the SEP series are designed to improve the M1A2 tanks, which will remain in service for a fairly long time. The processes of creating a fundamentally new MBT have slowed down, and the Abrams will not leave service yet, so it needs constant modernization. The production of M1A2 SEP v.3 / M1A2C tanks has now begun, and the next modification with new improvements is expected in the near future.

The situation is similar with the German "Leopard-2". The development of a new tank has already begun, but it will appear only in the distant future, and therefore it is necessary to maintain and improve the existing equipment. In parallel, the Bundeswehr plans to increase the number of MBTs in service. All this leads to the emergence of modernization projects. It is very likely that current processes in the future will lead to another update, and the Leopard 2A7 + / 2A7V will cease to be the newest modification.

The situation with the Chinese tanks remains unclear. So far, the "Type 99" remains the newest MBT in the PLA, but it cannot be ruled out that a new, more advanced tank has already been developed in the PRC, which still remains secret. Also, the development paths of Chinese tank building remain unknown.

From the point of view of goals and objectives, the T-90M looks the most interesting. Together with him, two other upgrades of existing MBTs were put into production, and in addition, a fundamentally new tank has already been developed - now it is being prepared for production. Thus, the "M" project and other modern developments will modernize a significant part of the available tank fleet and ensure the reinforcement of troops before the appearance of massive T-14s.

Israeli tank "Merkava Mk IV Mem". IDF Photo

Israel has already begun development of a new combat vehicle, but until its appearance, the "Merkava Mk IV" will remain in service - thanks to timely updates. At the same time, components and solutions suitable for use in future projects will be tested on current tanks.

The best of the best

Obviously, a direct comparison of tanks in terms of published tactical and technical characteristics does not make much sense. Simple comparison of millimeters, kilometers per hour, etc. allows only the most general differences to be established. A more detailed study, allowing to draw full-fledged conclusions, is not always possible due to the secrecy of the necessary data.

However, it is clear that all modern modernization projects are based on requirements developed taking into account the experience, needs and capabilities of specific armies. Ready-made tanks confirm their capabilities and go into series production. The considered M1A2C, Leopard 2A7V, T-90M, Type 99A and Merkava Mk IV Barak have been put into production or are being prepared for it - which indicates that the customer's requirements have been met.

Thus, choosing the best modern MBT or modernization project is hardly possible. However, we can say that all such vehicles from the advanced powers are the best examples of their class, created on the basis of available technologies and meeting the requirements of specific armies. In other words, they are all good in their own way.
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  1. kashcheevo egg
    kashcheevo egg 23 July 2020 05: 21
    Without tanks, as I understand it, nowhere. Useful shnyaga soldier
  2. Arthur 85
    Arthur 85 23 July 2020 06: 14
    Yes, I thought somehow that new armor would be invented for promising tanks and ships, and then I thought that then "crowbars" - BOPSs from the same material would be made, and fundamentally nothing would change.
    1. The leader of the Redskins
      The leader of the Redskins 23 July 2020 06: 50
      In no case!
      If you studied materials science, you would know that completely different physical properties are advanced to BOPS and armor. Yes, if in a "childish" way - both are made of metal, but from what metal? What additives, what technologies were used?
      Many ordinary people think that you can take a damaged tank, melt it down and you get armor.
      No! Will not work. An iron-carbon alloy with unpredictable properties will come out. The same is with the "scrap" - if you melt it, then indeed, the scrap will work!
      There are a lot of production nuances. Enough for a separate site, not that for a comment. And science does not stand still!
      1. Ros 56
        Ros 56 23 July 2020 07: 06
        It is absolutely true, technology is very serious, as a technologist say, though not a metallurgist, but a processor, but nevertheless.
      2. Arthur 85
        Arthur 85 23 July 2020 11: 10
        H'm. Well, first of all, the efficiency depends on the density, which is why the Americans make their scrap from depleted uranium. I remember there was a big kipesh about 20 years ago from journalists who do not understand anything about anything. (Aah! Radioactive material, we will all die!) The density of the "scrap" is primary, but its hardness and strength also matter, don't they? If it crumbles from hitting the armor, it will be sad ... And I know that the armor of a burnt tank loses some of its properties.
        1. 5-9
          5-9 23 July 2020 17: 39
          The density of tungsten is higher and shells made from it are cheaper. Even the USSR also made scrap from OS. The advantage of the op-amp is that in the process of breaking through, the house sharpens itself ...
          1. Archon
            Archon 23 July 2020 21: 28
            plus DU in the disposal of DU that has been accumulating for a long time
            1. Arthur 85
              Arthur 85 23 July 2020 21: 32
              Yes, I just wanted to write: to put it somewhere ...
              1. Archon
                Archon 23 July 2020 21: 39
                there is still money - dangerous garbage has turned into an expensive military resource
            2. 5-9
              5-9 24 July 2020 06: 15
              This is only if you don't know how to recycle nuclear tails back into fuel ...
              1. Arthur 85
                Arthur 85 24 July 2020 08: 22
                The 238th uranium can be processed into fuel by a sincere prayer to the Creator so that He would remove three extra neutrons from the nucleus. But this is unreliable. smile
                1. Ded_Mazay
                  Ded_Mazay 24 July 2020 15: 47
                  Read about fast reactors (BN series), you will find a lot of interesting things.
                  1. Arthur 85
                    Arthur 85 24 July 2020 17: 28
                    I heard it out of my ears, but something tells me that the bombardment of the 238th to 235th core cannot be finished in any way. It can be converted into heavier isotopes, if their half-life is small (nanoseconds), then the fuel can be produced directly in the process, but you are right, you need to read at your leisure. However, if it was easy to get something useful from 238, the energy problems would be solved forever.
                    1. Ded_Mazay
                      Ded_Mazay 24 July 2020 18: 06
                      I can recommend the Geoenergetics portal and materials of its editor-in-chief B. Martsinkevich, for example, in video format on the "satellite" YouTube channel. The cycle "what others are silent about", if I am not mistaken there, the topic of BNs was touched upon.
                2. 5-9
                  5-9 24 July 2020 21: 24
                  This is if you are a loshara or a pindom, who is not able to do anything except U-235, which is 0,72% ...
                  Fast editors? No, you haven't heard ...
          2. bk0010
            bk0010 23 July 2020 23: 54
            Quote: 5-9
            The density of tungsten is higher and shells made from it are cheaper.
            Tungsten shells are much more expensive than uranium shells.
            1. 5-9
              5-9 24 July 2020 06: 16
              Not. Therefore, we have new shells Lead 1 and 2, Vacuum 1 and 2 in 2 types, tungsten and DU.
              Tungsten for every day and for skakuass pots, DU for dear partners.
  3. Jack O'Neill
    Jack O'Neill 23 July 2020 06: 55
    Meanwhile, snails have an interesting article about Abrams:
  4. smaug78
    smaug78 23 July 2020 08: 26
    The T-90M project is designed to update and improve the T-90 and T-90A MBTs, bringing their characteristics to meet the current requirements.
    You can't finish it, the tower is completely different ...
    1. Zaurbek
      Zaurbek 23 July 2020 11: 18
      The entire tower will be erected.
  5. mvg
    mvg 23 July 2020 08: 50
    As usual, pulled with different flocks. Not concocted into a single heap. Another 100500+ hack of the author. With repetitions, nonsense, etc.
    1. merkava-2bet
      merkava-2bet 23 July 2020 16: 04
      Taking into account the fact that the photo of the Merkava-4Bet tank without KAZ passes off as a Merkava-4Mem tank with KAZ, and also declares that our tankers before the Merkava-4Barak tank are fighting with open hatches, bullshit, we are only in exercises with open hatches, and then rarely , but the level of the author is still the same.
    KOLORADO73 23 July 2020 09: 11
    NATO tanks lack aggression, although Leopard 2 looks quite menacing! German tanks have a fairly long history!
    1. 5-9
      5-9 23 July 2020 17: 41
      Here are just the Turks spoiled Leo's reputation .. As the evil tongues said, putting shells behind VLD is fraught ...
  7. Anatole Klim
    Anatole Klim 23 July 2020 09: 25
    A serious incident with M1A2 tanks occurred last Monday during night shooting at one of the US military ranges.
    A platoon of Abrams tanks participated in the training. The gunner of one of them mistook another combat vehicle at a distance of 2 meters for a moving target and fired at it 600-mm practical ammunition M1002.
    The shell accurately hit the target, hitting the top of the tower. As a result, the gunner of the knocked-out tank suffered - he received a shrapnel wound in the chest with a lung injury and lost several fingers on his left hand.
    Based on the published photos, despite the fact that not a combat weapon was used, but a simulator multipurpose M830A1, the tank received serious damage. For example, a panoramic thermal imaging sight was torn out.https: //
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 23 July 2020 11: 32
      At night, 2600 m, on the moving tank - an excellent control system and a good shooter.
    2. bk0010
      bk0010 23 July 2020 13: 45
      I remember a similar story from my neighbors: tankers learned to shoot at night, in the warehouse (outside the range) someone turned on the light and got a blank right between the windows, a little nix started, someone said that they were in the ammunition depot (no), the nix increased noticeably ...
    3. 5-9
      5-9 23 July 2020 17: 43
      Great shot! Really!
      If you didn't hit the cheekbone, then you got off easily ...
      If in the cheekbone, then Abrms slag :)
  8. CastroRuiz
    CastroRuiz 23 July 2020 15: 19
    A kde Leclerk?
    1. merkava-2bet
      merkava-2bet 23 July 2020 16: 08
      That's right, where is Leclerc, and where is the South Korean K2 Black Panther, where is the Japanese Type 10, and also where is the Chinese?
  9. 5-9
    5-9 23 July 2020 16: 15
    Both Leo and M1 have already reached and exceeded the weight that the platform can withstand for 20 years, so when "increasing protection", a breakthrough filler is used, a secret mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and inert gases ... armored air is called ... even LPZ of the Contact level 5 do not visit (if you do not need to drive on the asphalt) because this is a ton of 3 plus ... but no longer climb. This also applies to carrots.
    KAZ (which is also weight, energy and does not really climb) yes minor cosmetic improvements, no more
    In our older platform, they were able to make at least significant changes, but the T-90M also seems to be the limit ...
    Everything, we have arrived ... The stock is exhausted
  10. Operator
    Operator 23 July 2020 17: 22
    Merkava Mk IV Barak - whatever you call an armored vehicle, that's how it will be bully
  11. flanker7
    flanker7 23 July 2020 22: 09
    Quote: Anatol Klim
    The shell accurately hit the target, hitting the top of the tower. As a result, the gunner of the knocked-out tank suffered - he received a shrapnel wound in the chest with a lung injury and lost several fingers on his left hand.
    Judging by the published photos,

    In the photo, the loader's place. He has his own hatch, which could not be closed. It could fly only from the rear hemisphere. The gunner's place is on the other side of the gun, he sits in front of the commander and below him. In a word, the gunner could not get hurt.
  12. Just a Traveler
    Just a Traveler 24 July 2020 15: 33
    The author of the material - you messed up with the photo, please fix it!
  13. k_ply
    k_ply 25 July 2020 07: 56
    Proactive action to their own kind - tanks have been in the background for a long time, now mobile and light portable ATGMs do an excellent job, but the use of OFS and support for infantry in the same conditions of urban development is an urgent task for MBT, i.e. the role of a self-propelled highly protected assault gun with a high ballistic cannon. The tank is precisely a weapon of fire, despite the fact that its absence in various types of air transportable military formations is trying to make up for by creating light analogues, for example: "Sprut-SD" or "Stryker-MGS" M1128. Here, it is important to have BMs to support them (BMP, BMD, BMPT), preferably with a sufficient number of crew or troops providing this support and protection, so when the number of motorized rifle platoons and companies is reduced to absurdity, I am perplexed, personally.
  14. Gunther
    Gunther 7 October 2020 21: 15
    in the article at
    "..... For example, the maximum flight range of the M829A1 projectile is 88 meters when firing at a maximum angle of departure (438 degrees). Such excesses are not needed in practice shooting."
    ekperdy site, they swear that this is true, because the real daughter of an officer is talking, I apologize - "tank commander" ...