Western forces beware, the Chinese have fielded the most advanced tank yet! Well, only the most advanced in China that is. Following in the ancient Chinese tradition of quantity over quality and cheap products, the Chinese have developed their own 3rd generation battle tank that they believe is the answer to the Western nations’ superior tank designs. Likewise, they also used their other ancient tradition of ripping off western designs to compensate for their lack of engineering ability in the design of this tank. Yes, the Type 99 tank does possess many up-to-date gimmicks like a laser awareness system to locate the direction of shots fired at it (hmmm….) assuming they don’t destroy it first I guess, and it can also be used to scramble an enemy tank’s optics, I guess again under the assumption that the enemy tank’s optics weren’t used to target and then subsequently destroy it. Among other criticisms laid down by numerous armor enthusiasts, observe the area located directly under the turret, how the armor is concave rather than convex, this design renders this area a “shot trap”, which is a serious design blunder that increases vulnerability to frontal fire, the most common in a tank-on-tank battle. A shot could also jam the turret in this area even if it didn’t destroy the tank or kill it’s occupants. All in all, the Chinese have successfully developed a tank that rivals the western designs in speed, electronics, and almost there with the armor, but they still fall short in the overall design having not had any modern experience with tanks in battle.[youtube VMDue1n1TEM]
German Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank
Manufacturer: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW)
So the Germans have a tank that is comparable to the American Abrams line of tanks. Big deal right? Of course not! The Leopard is fighting side by side with the American Abrams in Afghanistan and Iraq right now! The Canadians in particular have deployed many Leopards to Afghanistan for combat roles, and the opinions on which tank is better are mixed. It basically goes both ways, each tank has its pros and cons, and in the end; they both are equally as effective against the threats they face there. The similarities in the American Abrams and the German Leopard 2 are due to the fact that they are both based on the same design. In the mid-70s the Germans and Americans teamed up to build a tank together, but couldn’t agree on certain points. They both took the existing design they had come up with and then went their own directions. But how would they stack up against a more modern force than Afghani goat herders? Chinese tanks, Russian tanks? Only time will tell on that one. Unless we could steal a tank…
No doubt, the German Leopard 2 is a formidable machine.
British Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
Manufacturer: BAE Systems Land and Armaments [LSE: BA.L]
Photo Crown Copyright/MOD
The British Challenger 2 Main battle tank has several innovations unique to its design. One of the foremost innovations devised by the Brits is a type of armor known as Chobham armor, which is a layered matrix of steel and ceramics. In fact, incorporating layers of ceramic into steel has been a newer technique of strengthening steel, (the strongest knife blades are now layered steel and ceramics, because the ceramics provide an added measure of flexibility. The Chobham armor is known to perform especially well against HEAT (High explosive anti-tank) rounds. In one encounter in Iraq, one Challenger 2 was hit by 8 RPGs in close range and one MILAN anti-tank missile and managed to escape to be repaired. Another improvement currently being made to the Challenger 2 is the replacement of its 120 mm rifled cannon barrel with a smooth bore cannon, which will enable the Challenger to fire depleted uranium rounds among other more lethal ammunition developed by the US and Germany.
Weight: 62.5 tonnes
Length: 8.3 m
Width: 3.5 m (4.2 m with appliqué armour)
Height: 2.5 m
Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)
- Engine: Perkins CV12 diesel engine delivering 1,200 hp (895 kW).
- Gearbox: David Brown TN54 epicyclical transmission (6 fwd, 2 rev).
- Suspension: Second-generation Hydrogas.
- Track: William Cook Defence Hydraulically Adjustable double-pin.
- Maximum speed 37 mph, 59 km/h (road) 25 mph, 40 km/h (cross country)
- Range 280 miles, 450 km (road) 156 miles, 250 km (cross country).
Check out this Challenger 2 tank video, this thing is a beast!
Manufacturer: GIAT Industries
The French, their military history aside, actually are widely known in Europe for their innovative and solid armored vehicle designs. In the mid 1980’s, Britain introduced its Challenger 2 main battle tank, Germany rolled out the impressive Leopard 2, and the US unveiled its M1A1 Abrams tank. The world was being introduced to battle machinery that combined decades of design research and cutting edge electronics systems. Not wanting to be left behind, the French decided to join the party. They had initially planned on simply importing the German Leopard 2 tank, but after some cost forecasting and design speculation, these plans were rejected. Thus the French decided to design their own tank, and they specialized in different aspects of design from other Western tanks. In steps the GIAT industries Leclerc French Main Battle Tank.
Indeed, it only bodes well for Western civilization to have diversity amongst tank designs, especially among allies. The most notable specializations of the Leclerc are its propulsion and driving capabilities. The Leclerc is not only the fastest western tank, but it is also the quickest to stop, having a hydro pneumatic retarder built into the gearbox that can utilize the tanks engine to aide in slowing the vehicle. Likewise, these capabilities are also made possible because the Leclerc is the lightest main battle tank, which also helps it to be transported easily and cost-effectively. All in all, the Leclerc Main Battle Tank is an impressive design that adds value to the militaries of NATO.
Check out this Leclerc tank video, it is ominously set to the classical piece Requiem for a Dream.
|Unit Weight||56 tonnes|
|Length in Meters||9.87 m (6.88 without gun)|
|Crew||3 (Commander, gunner, driver)|
Engine : 8-cylinder diesel Wärtsilä 1,500 hp (1,100 kW)
Manufacturer: General Dynamics [NYSE: GD]
Some countries excel in the creation of different things. It just so happens that the US excels in the creation of the machines of war. Aside from being the richest country in the world and having the Cold War spurring the development of said military technology, the Abrams tank was truly a revolutionary design when unveiled in the 80s. Despite whatever claims that certain tank exporting countries have about their newly designed next-generation tanks, none of them, aside from a distant second with the British Challenger 2 main battle tank, have been tested as extensively in battle as the M1 Abrams tank. The Abrams tank has constantly been upgraded to withstand the stresses of battle, and when it comes to a main battle tank, you actually want it to last…in battle. Support systems and facilities, repair and maintenance technicians, and myriads of other factors contribute to determining what tank could win against another. Sure other modern MBT tanks have bells and whistles, but none have the serious capability to survive and be retrofitted like the M1-Abrams tank. The M1-A2 MBT is the greatest tank in existence. Also be sure to read about the depleted uranium shells seen in slow motion in the video.
Check out this M1 Abrams tank video. The slow motion segment depicts a fin-guided round shedding it’s skin midflight.
You can see other Abrams tank videos at YouTube.com’s Abrams Tank videos section.
The Israeli Defence Forces recently implemented a modernization drive on their main battle tank program. Their newest design, uveiled in 2002, features some technological advances forged from the fire of the battlefields of the Middle East. This video of the Merkava 4 main battle tank displays the blast-proof ammunition container, and the ability to target and track multiple targets while on the move, even helicopters. Likely the best features of the Merkava 4 are that it has one of the smallest profiles on the battlefield, the sloped turret angles allow for this advantage. Additionally, the Merkava 4 actually has a rear hatch and extra rear space that can accomodate several fully-armed combat troops or can be used to protect the wounded in battle.
Check out this Merkava tank video. It really shows off the intensive training that the IDF undertakes.
The Japanese Type 90 tank rivals any other main battle tank on the modern battlefield. The Type 90 incorporates several newer technologies, some that are even lacking in other nation’s tanks. For example, the Japanese employed an auto-loading cannon, which reduces the crew requirement and also increases the tanks rate of fire. Likewise, the electro optic thermal sighting system has a passive viewing mode, which enables them to target the infrared signals emitted from enemy vehicles rather than the type 90 having to target the enemy on its own. The type 90 employs the Japanese Self-Defense Forces own version of armor incorporating layers of ceramic and steel. The type 90 is definitely a contender for the top spot of the greatest modern tank.
Watch this Type 90 tank video, the scene where the tanks hit the target simultaneously is designed to portray the digital communications ability of the JSDF.
The South Korean Army has developed a next generation tank, the XK-2 Blank Panther that incorporates some interesting advances in technology. The tank’s most impressive new features are its amphibious capability, active defense system, and handling/suspension technology. First of all, the tank is capable of driving completely underwater for river crossings. Likewise, the tank has an active defense system that can shoot down incoming missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Obviously, the South Koreans are on the frontier of next generation tank technology. With comparable optoelectronic sighting, navigation, and fire and control systems to the US M1-A2 Abrams tank, the XK-2 Blank Panther definitely embodies extreme fighting technology.
This promotional XK 2 tank video is widespread on the net; it definitely shows why the XK-2 is something to talk about.
Depleted Uranium is a relatively recent development in military weapons and technology. Depleted Uranium is one of the heaviest elements on earth giving it tremendous power when coupled with ammunition. Depleted Uranium rounds are usually of a higher caliber such as the 120mm rounds fired out of the Abrams Tank, although 30mm rounds are also made for engaging light armored vehicles. DU is even being used in sniper ammunition for long range applications. Depleted Uranium technology allows ammunition to be shot much further than conventional munitions, and delivers a much more devastating payload. Tanks equipped with depleted uranium shells can easily compromise conventional armor from 3-5 K/m out. Due to its extreme density, depleted uranium is being used in Tank armor, as well as some other military vehicle’s armor including aircraft.
The side effects of Depleted Uranium are being studied, but some research has shown signs of depleted uranium contributing to cancer rates in Iraq. After a DU shell is fired from a tank the radioactivity can spread for up to 190 miles in the wind. and has been found in water sources in Iraq.