The newest Russian tank T-14 Armata demonstrates a new direction: a remote-controlled tower and standard systems common to all machines of the same family
Let's look at countries that are still developing and producing their own main combat Tanks.
This year marks one hundred years since the beginning of the development of the tank, at the expense of this machine, they tried to resolve the stalemate on the Western Front. Although the tank’s roots are in Western Europe, a region that, with the exception of Germany, has reduced its capacity to design, develop, and manufacture main battle tanks (MBTs), in the industry of other countries the situation is almost the opposite, especially in Asia.
In Europe, industry consolidation, shrinking budgets and lengthy combat vehicle programs have caused countries that once created their own facilities to build and manufacture MBT - for example, Sweden with the Bofors S tank and Switzerland with the Pz 61 and Pz 68 tanks - abandoned them in favor of finished imported products. Both countries chose Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) Leopard 2 tank, while reassuring the local industry and throwing a bone at it in the form of in-country manufacturing of subsystems, such as an MTU diesel engine.
Swedish Leopard is one of the most well-protected tanks in the world, thus confirming the unusual tendency when many countries choose ready-made imported tanks rather than developing their own and often get more efficient machines compared to the original developer’s machines.
For example, the United Arab Emirates 436 tanks (the only export vehicles of this French MBT) have higher characteristics than tanks of the French army, as well as improvements for operation in the hot climate of this country. Perhaps the most significant change was the installation of a MTU 883 diesel engine with an 1500 horsepower. instead of the original SACM engine. The MTU engine was also installed on the French armored repair and recovery vehicle Leclerc ARV.
Already after entering the UAE, they upgraded their OBT by installing the AZUR protection kit (Action en Zone Urban) developed by Nexter; Recently, these machines were deployed by the allied coalition in Yemen. For comparison, France did not choose additional protection for its own Leclerc tanks.
KMW is currently the main contractor for the tank Leopard 2, which has become the most successful European tank project in recent years, widely exported and subjected to significant upgrades. Licensed production was also carried out in Greece and Spain, but at present virtually all the work on the Leopard 2 tank is focused on upgrading existing platforms, as European operators seek to get rid of the cars and consolidate their fleets. The only exception is the production of 64 new tanks, which should get off the production line and go to Qatar.
Even the new German Leopard 2A7 tanks ordered from KMW represent an upgrade of the Leopard 2A7 from the presence of the Dutch army, as well as overhauled and modified to the new standard version of the 2A4.
Although there are no concrete plans for the near future, the replacement of the Leopard 2 tank may well be the new MBT, developed jointly with France, which will also need to replace its Leclerc MBT in the long term. These opportunities were reinforced by the recent merger of KMW and Nexter Systems, but to date, all attempts at joint development have failed due to a conflict of interest.
Modern plant of the company General Dynamics European Land Systems, built for the production of Leopard tanks in Spain (brand new, but at the moment in his shops silence) is a symbol of the production of the European MBT. If the tank-building companies of Europe do not ensure the modernization of tanks for themselves, their capacities and qualifications will degrade.
Even the awkward Russian armored industry was reduced and consolidated. The development and production of four main production sites has now been moved to Uralvagonzavod in Nizhny Tagil, which developed the T-62, T-72 and T-90 tanks; the latter is still produced for overseas markets. The plant in Omsk, where the T-80 OBT was manufactured, has now entered the huge Uralvagonzavod concern and, apparently, has focused on more specialized OBT platforms.
After a false start with the T-95 MBT, which was armed with an externally-installed 152-mm 2A83 smoothbore gun, Russian efforts shifted to the development of the Armata T-14 MBT, which was officially shown at a military parade in May 2015.
The T-14 tank has a revolutionary layout: three crew members are placed in front in a very sturdy hull (including an active defense complex), shells in an externally mounted smooth-bore 125-mm 2A82A cannon are fed by an automatic loader installed in the turret's stern niche. The base body of the T-14 (modified in some cases) will serve as the base for the full family of armored combat vehicles, and the first of these was the heavy infantry fighting vehicle T-15.
Pre-production copies of the T-14 are currently being tested and, if successful, Russia plans to manufacture at least 2000 vehicles that will replace the T-72, T-80 tanks and, in the long term, the T-90, although it is not entirely clear whether funding sufficient for this. Meanwhile, Russia continues to manufacture and export MBT and support foreign manufacturers.
Russian tank T-90
Russian tank T-72М1М
In Soviet times, Ukraine has gained extensive experience in the design, development and production of MBT, including the T-80UD model, which was equipped with a compact and well-developed diesel engine of local development, and not a voracious and expensive gas turbine engine of Russian T-80U tanks.
Work continued after the collapse of the Soviet Union; further development of the T-XNUMHUD tank led to the creation of a variant of the T-80. Subsequently, at the end of the 84-s, T-90 was sold to Pakistan, although the unresolved relations between Russia and Ukraine meant that there were some disagreements regarding, for example, Russia's objections to the technology of cast towers. In this regard, some cars were delivered with towers from the tank T-84.
The design of the tank is the Kharkov engineering design bureau for them. Morozov, and the manufacture is engaged in a state tank factory them. Malysheva. This plant manufactured and began shipping the first batch of 49 BM Oplot tanks to Thailand at the beginning of 2014, but the exact status of this transaction is not clear in light of the current situation in Ukraine and the decision taken at the beginning of 2015 of the year to concentrate all developments and production to meet the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Tank BM Oplot
The Abrams M1A1 tank assembly line at a tank factory near Cairo makes Egypt the only country in North Africa with modern tank production facilities, but in the Middle East the only country that has developed its own MBT is neighboring Israel. And even then, the tank in the latest version of the Merkava Mk 4 is not produced (although the upgrade is underway), and its diesel engine is imported (it is a GD883 General Dynamics version of the MTU engine).
And yet, the fact that the family of innovative tanks was successfully designed and manufactured speaks volumes. The Merkava tank, developed by a consortium of Israeli companies, “strained” the national defense industry in ways that would have been impossible in most other countries. Its creation, the final chord of which was assembled by Israeli Ordnance Corps, required a very high level of cooperation and integration between many Israeli companies.
All MBT Merkava have good protection and are distinguished by an unusual layout with a front engine. The tank of the latest configuration Mk 4 is equipped with KAZ Rafael Trophy
The design of the tank is unusual in that the power unit is located in front, and the tower is shifted to the stern of the car. Designers argue that this arrangement increases the survivability of the crew (the crew can leave the car through the rear hatches, while providing at least some protection from enemy fire), and also allows you to free up space for the separation of the landing.
The Mk 4 tank is equipped with many local development systems, including the Rafael Trophy active protection system.
Having gained considerable experience in the modernization of obsolete MBT, Turkey decided to build its own tank in the past decade and in August 2008 entered into a contract with Otokar for the Altay project.
The contract cost 500 millions of dollars provided for the design, development and manufacture of an experimental model for testing the running characteristics of the MTR (Mobility Test Rig), the experimental model for FTR (Firing Test Rig) shooting tests and two experimental machines (PV1 and PV2), all of which were tested for this moment completed. Currently, negotiations are underway to produce the first batch of 250 Altay tanks with an MTU EuroPowerPack engine with an 1500 horsepower, although Turkey wants to produce its power unit developed by local enterprises in the future.
In accordance with the common standard Western European practice, the Altay tank is armed with an 120-mm L / 55 smoothbore gun, which is also installed on many Leopard 2A6 tanks and other MBTs. The hand-loading gun is connected to a local-developed fire control system (LMS), and the guidance is carried out using stabilized day and night sights.
The capabilities of the Turkish tank will be developed in stages. Although installation of, for example, a modern booking kit is foreseen for a serial car, in the long run it is expected that it will be equipped with an active protection package from Aselsan.
The Turkish company Otokar is assisted by the South Korean company Hyundai Rotem, which has its own experience in the development and production of main battle tanks K1 and K2. South Korea is now completely self-sufficient in the design and manufacture of tanks, tracked and wheeled armored vehicles.
This process began with the development of the first prototype of the K1 tank, made by the American company Chrysler (now General Dynamics Land Systems) in the 1983 year. Then the Korean car went a long way, including four main development and modernization cycles, at the end of which (and finally!) In 2013, the current K1A2 standard tank went into service.
A total of approximately 1500 machines were manufactured, but there were no orders from foreign countries for this machine.
In parallel, as part of an entirely new project, Hyundai Rotem developed a K2 MBT with a higher level of protection, armed with an L / 55 smoothbore gun with an automatic loader placed in the rear of the turret, which allowed for a much higher rate of fire compared to the K1 tank (up to 10 shots per minute).
In accordance with the general trend, a local power unit was to be installed on the K2 tank, but problems encountered during development and associated with achieving sufficient power and reliability of the new engine forced Hyundai Rotem to return to the MTU MT833 engine, although development was not stopped.
The overall layout of the Korean tank is quite traditional, but not without some innovative moments, including an active suspension, which allows you to adjust the clearance and the inclination of the hull within fairly large limits. The machine can “kneel” and fire at the target from the shelter or “nose up” in order to increase the angle of vertical guidance for firing at highly placed targets. Also, the whole body can be raised and lowered depending on the relief being overcome.
Serial production began in 2013, the first tanks entered service in June, 2014, and since then their production has continued (100 tanks are expected to be delivered to 2017, the year). At the moment, there are no export orders for the tank, but it is regularly demonstrated to interested potential customers, including participating in the competition for the Peruvian MBT, competing with the Ukrainian Stronghold and the Russian T-90.
Like most of the Chinese military equipment, the tanks of this country are based on the Russian MBT. Initially, the production of Soviet copies went in large quantities, but then the local industry began to gain experience and gain it until China was able to develop its own projects from scratch. China began with the T-54, on the basis of which Type 59, Type 69 and Type 79 tanks were created. They were followed by a Type 80, which had a new building with a turret armed with a NATO standard 105-mm cannon connected to a computerized SLA. Further development in the 80-x and 90-s resulted in a machine with an increasingly characteristic Chinese appearance.
The newest MBT, entered service with the Chinese army, was the Type 99 (the number indicates the year when the tank was shown at a military parade). Although its hull is similar to the hull of a T-72 tank, the experience of this tank’s participation in combat operations, including the Russian presence in Afghanistan and the poor fighting qualities of Iraqi tanks during Operation Storm in the Desert, was carefully studied in order to enhance the level of protection and approbation of some innovations. Among them, for example, an active protection complex and a laser blinding device.
The tank also received a new turret with an 125-mm smoothbore cannon, which shells are fed by an automatic loader, located under the tower's chase.
All tanks were manufactured in large quantities for the local market, but the capabilities of Chinese industry also allowed it to supply various models of tanks to many countries around the world. The Chinese company North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) is currently promoting MBT-3000 (VT-4), MBT-2000 and VT-2 tanks, all with a 125-mm smooth-bore gun and automatic loader.
Little is known about future plans for Chinese MBT, but the latest developments include a light tank Type 62 with an 105-mm gun (also known as ZTQ). At a time when the main battle tanks of other countries are becoming heavier, the Type 62 light machine, designed for operations in mountainous terrain, has a ton of 21 tons of man and an 4 crew of a man.
Hyundai Rotem's K2 is already the second MBT created by South Koreans, but the development of a local power unit was not so easy and the cars of the first batch are equipped with an MTU engine.
Turkey is the only NATO country to start a program to develop and manufacture its own Altay MBT
The efforts of India to develop its Arjun MBT are well known, they perfectly illustrate the general problems associated with developing a competitive machine within the country, as well as problems specific to India. Numerous delays, technical problems and the sky-high cost of supplying 124 problem machines Mk1 in 2004 year (30 years after the start of development), the second order "pulled by the ears" for 118 tanks upgraded to the standard Mk2 in 2014 year, and the cost of one the cars, according to various estimates, range from 8 to 10 million dollars, all this makes the Arjun OBT the most expensive tank in the world.
Indian tank Arjun
Despite the fact that the Arjun tank is essentially considered a modern design, it has several strange flaws, including the 120-mm rifled gun, which confronts India with the same fire problems that the United Kingdom and Oman faced with the Challenger tank.
In order to compensate for the problems associated with the development of its tank, India bought Russian tanks T-72M1 and T-90, which were manufactured under license and upgraded by installing ready-made systems, such as Catherine sights from Thales. So, despite the many problems with the development, India has gained extensive experience in the production of tanks inside the country.
Pakistan, instead of starting to develop a new MBT from scratch, made a much more prudent decision, establishing close cooperative ties with China.
These two countries have been cooperating for quite some time. They started with NORINCO’s Chinese OBT Type 59 batch, which Pakistan has upgraded at its plant (including the installation of a new 105-mm rifled gun and a computerized SLA), followed by local assembly / production of Type 69-II tanks, Type 85 tanks and, in Ultimately, MBT-2000, which received the Pakistani designation Al Khalid. Since 2001, more than 300 Al Khalid tanks have been manufactured and their production continues.
Pakistani Al Khalid Tank
After implementing a successful Al Khalid project, Pakistan now has plans to begin producing a localized version of the NORINCO's VT-4 / MBT-3000 tank under the designation Al-Hyder, which was successfully tested at the end of the 2014 year. That is, at present this country is guaranteed to retain the possibilities for the production of modern tanks.
As long as we stay in Asia and take a look at the opportunities of Japan in this area. This country has extensive experience in the development and production of MBT, but its pacifist policy does not allow (for now, but soon allow) it to offer its tanks to other countries.
The newest Japanese MBT Mitsubishi Type 10 vividly illustrates the advantages of developing a tank in accordance with national requirements, since this tank of 44 ton tons goes against the general trend of increasing mass. Japan needed to develop a lighter tank with smaller dimensions, since the previous Type 50 and Type 90 models had difficulty moving along the roads and railways of this country.
Japanese tank Type 10
The armored power of the United States will be based on M1 Abrams tanks up to the 2050s. In order for the tank to meet modern threats, it goes through several successive upgrades, starting with the M1A3 configuration, expected early next decade.
The production of this tank continues, the machines were exported to Australia (M1A1 ATM), Egypt (co-production M1A1), Iraq (M1A1SA, several tanks were lost in battles with the Islamic State), Kuwait (M1A2) and Saudi Arabia, in the case of a number of people, who are in a position of some of them, who will be in a position of a number of people who will be in a position of a number of them, and a number of people who will be in a position to be a member of the United They have all the capabilities and know-how that will create the next generation tank.
Meanwhile, in connection with the replacement of Abrams tanks in the US Army, there is a lot of talk about the possibility of developing uninhabited light tanks for engaging in scenarios that large and heavy MBTs will not be able to meet, or regarding building up its combat capabilities as part of the concept of combining habitable and uninhabited systems. similar to the one that is implemented with assault helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.
American tank M1A2 Abrams
While the death of the MBT was predicted several times already, especially after the defeat of the tank groups of Syria and Egypt in the Doomsday War in 1973 and in connection with the end of the Cold War, there is still no other weapon system that could replace the MBT.
Although his main role in the destruction of other MBTs was largely assumed by other weapons systems, the tank repeatedly proved its importance by supporting the dismounted infantry during hostilities in Russia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
One can only guess what the future MBT will look like, for example the Armata T-14 project with a remotely controlled tower offers its own vision of the future.
Fully remote-controlled platforms are already used in special operations, for example, they are involved in demining, and in the future such systems may be further developed with the aim of their participation in hostilities.