Most Advanced Battle Tanks In The World

Most advanced battle tanks in the world is a topic that has filled the cyber space for quite a while and keeps expanding as more and new battle tanks come into development. Tanks have fascinated me since my childhood and these large destructive metal beasts have changed the course of history since their arrival in the World War 1 theater and from that moment they have continued to rule the land battle arena.

The tank first arrived on the battlefield in 1916 when it was deployed by the British Army against the Germans in World War One. It was developed as a weapon which could cross No-Man’s Land, crush the fields of barbed wire and break through the enemy’s trenches – the whole time well protected from enemy machine gun fire and shrapnel. By 1918, the first tank-vs-tank battle occurred between the British and the Germans. Powered by tractor engines and equipped with around a half inch of armor and a variety of machine guns and cannons, these early tanks were slow, lumbering machines which could often be as dangerous to their own crew as they were to the enemy. Nonetheless, the tank was here to stay and these weapons indicated a new direction in thinking when it came to how nations built and used their armies over the coming decades.

Once in a while we often ask ourselves the question of, “Which is the best main battle tank in the world?” With due respect, there are quite a number of battle tanks but only a few standout as the monsters which send fear into the hearts of men. Our analysis is based on the combined score of protection, firepower, accuracy and mobility.

All of the tanks mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating, however none of them have seen combat against each other during military operations yet. Analysis is based on specifications and available data. Crew training of the tank is also important, as performance of the actual tank depends from the crew performance.

However, before I go ahead I would like to mention a concept battle tank from the Poland Armed Forces that made a sudden appearance in 2 September 2013 and its presumably the battle tank for the future and some refer to it as the, “Invisible tank”. I present to you the….

PL-01 Tank


The PL-01 tank
The PL-01 tank

PL-01 tank is a Polish armoured fighting vehicle created by OBRUM with support from BAE Systems. The concept vehicle project was first unveiled at the International Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce on 2 September 2013. A full prototype is estimated to be completed in 2016, and should the project be finalized and approved following evaluation, mass production is scheduled to begin in 2018.

Design

The vehicle armour has a modular ceramic-aramid shell, which is designed to provide protection compatible with NATO standard STANAG 4569 Annex A at level 5+ within the front portion of the hull and turret. Additional armor panels are mounted on the turret and hull, and are designed to provide full protection against projectiles. The hull of the vehicle provides protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and landmines in accordance with appendix B parts 4a and 4b of the STANAG 4569 standard. The entire vehicle will be covered with radio wave absorbent material.

PL-01 is to be equipped with a 940 horsepower (700 kW)+ diesel engine coupled to a torque converter, automatic gearbox and driving assistance mechanism. The vehicle can reach speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph) on paved roads and 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) in rough terrain with a maximum range of 500 kilometres (310 mi).

Weapons

The primary weapon of the PL-01 tank is a 105 or 120 mm caliber gun fitted within the unmanned turret, in accordance with NATO standards. The cannon will be able to shoot both conventional projectiles and guided anti-tank rockets. The auto loader ensures a shot fire rate of 6 per minute. The vehicle carries 45 rounds, of which 16 are located in slots within the turret and ready to fire, and the remainder stored within the chassis compartment. The tank is also armed with a 7.62 mm caliber UKM-2000C machine gun with an ammunition supply of 1,000 rounds.

Additional equipment is to be installed in a remote-controlled module. Presently the designs include a 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm caliber machine gun or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher with a supply of 750 rounds of 7.62 mm, 400 rounds of 12.7 mm or 96 rounds of 40 mm grenades. Also equipped is an active defense system which intercepts incoming missiles and smoke grenade launchers built into the turret.

All equipment will be electronically stabilized, and observation and sighting systems will come with laser range finders, day-night cameras and third generation thermal imaging, with visual data displayed on a screen.

Since we now have a clear understanding of the PL- 01 battle tank, lets now look at the other top current battle tanks rocking the geographical terrain.

T-84 Oplot-M Tank (Ukraine)


T-84-Oplot-M Tank
T-84-Oplot-M Tank

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was left with a tank factory in Kharkov which had been producing the T-80UD main battle tank (MBT). In an effort to develop their own tanks, it was decided to take the T-80 design and modify its design to meet the needs of the Ukrainian military. The result was the T-84 which, over time, evolved into the T-84 Oplot-M. This particular tank has been heavily modernized to make it one of the most sophisticated tanks fielded today.

Like most Russian/Soviet-style tanks, the Oplot is armed with a 125mm smooth bore gun which can fire a variety of explosive and armor piercing ammunition, as well as laser guided anti-tank missiles. The ammunition is loaded by an auto loader which takes around eight seconds per round. To find and hit targets accurately the crew use panoramic and thermal imaging sights while the gun utilizes a ballistics computer – part of a fire control system which allows the tank to fire accurately while on the move. In addition to the Oplot’s regular armor, the tank also has advanced explosive reactive armor and a countermeasure system to jam and confuse enemy anti-tank missiles.

Type 99 A2 Tank (China)


Type-99-A2 Tank
Type-99-A2 Tank

Chinese tanks of the last 50 years have not been considered sophisticated, especially by Russian and American standards. This resulted from the fact that for much of this time, Chinese tanks were developed and reverse engineered from captured or covertly obtained tanks. The result was often a tank that looked like a Soviet/Russian design but was far inferior in every respect.

Recently, that trend has started to change. While there is no denying that modern Chinese weaponry is still heavily based on foreign technology and designs, newer tank designs definitely display higher levels of sophistication. Defined as an enhanced third-generation MBT, the Type 99 is one of these tanks. The Type 99 is built by NORINCO and originally entered service in 2001 with the more advanced A2 variant entering production in 2009.

The latest tank has advanced composite armor with additional explosive reactive armor modules installed. Like Russian and Western tanks, the 99 A2 has a heavily digitized interface and battle management system which improves the tank’s efficiency and ability to operate on the battlefield. Like many other tanks on this list, the Chinese tank is also reported to be equipped with an active protection system which can detect and defeat incoming missiles with a high degree of success.

AMX-56 Leclerc Tank (France)


Leclerc AMX-56 Tank
Leclerc AMX-56 Tank

The Leclerc entered French service in 1992 and today there are over 400 serving with the French military and over 350 with the United Arab Emirates. For much of its production run, the Leclerc was the most expensive tank in the world, thanks in large part to the sophisticated systems found on board. The tank is unusual for a Western-designed MBT in that it uses an auto loader. Nonetheless, this auto loader is very fast and can reportedly load up to 12 rounds a minute for the 120mm smooth-bore gun.

An all-digital fire control system allows the gunner to pick out six targets and engage them all in a little over 30 seconds. Thermal sights and laser range finders all help in identifying and targeting the enemy as far out as four kilometers. Armor on the newest models of this tank includes tungsten and titanium modules and explosive reactive armor modules. All of this sophisticated technology is further protected by laser and missile warning systems, as well as infrared decoys and anti-personnel grenades.

Challenger 2 Tank (Great Britain)


Challenger 2 Tank
Challenger 2 Tank

In service since 1998, the British Challenger 2 is often stated to be the best protected tank in the world. This is thanks to its highly classified ‘Dorchester’ armor which is said to be a composite of ceramic and various metals layered together. The Challenger 2’s armor is so strong that on more than one occasion in Iraq it withstood a barrage of enemy rocket-propelled grenades. Only one has ever been destroyed and that was thanks to friendly-fire from another Challenger 2. In addition to its regular armor, this tank is also equipped with explosive reactive armor modules. Unlike most other MBTs, the Challenger 2 is armed with a rifled 120mm gun which gives it a high degree of accuracy. Helping the crew use the tank and its gun to the best of their ability is a Canadian-made fire control computer and a British-made battle information system which integrates all of the tank’s systems and displays together.

Leopard 2A7+ Tank (Germany)


Leopard-2A7 Tank
Leopard-2A7 Tank

Entering service in 1979, the Leopard 2 is an ‘old’ tank but remains one of the best all-around weapons on the market today thanks to considerable upgrades over the years. The current 2A7+ model takes all of the abilities of the previous versions and incorporates improvements which came about as a result of experiences using tanks in urban warfare – like Iraq. The Leopard 2 is armed with a 120mm smooth bore gun which fires a range of ammunition, including the ability to fire the Israeli-made LAHAT guided missile. The gun is fully stabilized and linked to a laser range finding system – all of which allows the tank to hit a target at up to 5km while on the move.

An integrated command and information system, along with enhanced daylight and thermal sites give the newest Leopard 2 an advantage on the battlefield when it comes to hunting other tanks. For protection, the Leopard 2 doesn’t use explosive reactive armor but instead uses a base of multi-layered composite armor over which is placed modular shaped armor for increased protection.

K2 Black Panther Tank (South Korea)


K2 Black Panther Tank
K2 Black Panther Tank

Currently the Black Panther is one of the most advanced main battle tank in the world, outclassing anything North Korea or China have. Furthermore it is the most expensive main battle tank to date.

This tank uses composite armor of undisclosed type and explosive reactive armor modules. The K2 is also completed with active protection and countermeasures systems. Its protection is broadly similar to the M1A2 Abrams, considering that the K2 is much lighter.

This new South Korean tank is armed with the latest German 120-mm gun, similar to that used on the Leopard 2A6 and 2A7. This tank has a very advanced fire control system with can spot, track and fire automatically at visible vehicle-size targets, even low-flying helicopters, without needing any input from a human operator. The K2 also uses advanced munitions.

The Black Panther is fitted with a powerful diesel engine. It is fast and has a state-of-the-art hydro-pneumatic suspension.Currently this main battle tanks is not yet in series production. It might enter service with the South Korean Army soon.

Type 10 Tank (Japan)


TK-X Tank
TK-X Tank

In the world of modern military equipment, the Japanese forces often get overlooked. This is, in large part, because the Japanese military is designed as a defensive force and its products are not exported as US and Russian equipment is. Nonetheless, the Japanese have produced a new and rather sophisticated MBT in the shape of the Type 10. Classified as an advanced third-generation or next-generation tank, the Type 10 (aka TK-X) entered service in 2012. Compared with Japan’s previous tanks, the Type 10 is a huge step forward in mobility, firepower and protection.

The vehicle is armed with 120mm smooth-bore gun, similar to the Leopard 2, and is loaded with an automatic loading system to keep the crew at just three people. The tank is protected by a very advanced material called nano-crystal steel which is triple the hardness of regular steel. Additional composite armor modules add to the already powerful protection. The latest sensors, battlefield management systems and sights give the crew of this tank a high level of battlefield awareness in comparison to many other tank systems.

Merkava IVm (Israel)


Merkava Mk 4 Tank
Merkava Mk 4 Tank

For much of its history, Israel was reliant on obtaining its tanks from outside countries. Battlefield experiences over the last several decades led Israeli planners to push for a domestically designed and produced tank that met the needs of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The result was the Merkava series of tanks. The latest model of this tank is Merkava IVm. This particular tank has a crew of four and can hold several more soldiers inside.

Protection is the #1 priority of the Merkava and the tank makes considerable use of modular armor which can be removed and replaced quickly. Even the paint and exhaust were taken in consideration as developers wanted a tank which was hard to see, even with thermal viewers. Extra protection is provided by the ‘Trophy’ system which can detect and alert the crew to incoming threats and destroy anti-tank missiles and rockets with small explosive charges. For offense, the tank uses a 120mm smooth-bore gun which fires high-explosive and armor-piercing rounds as well as the domestically produced LAHAT guided anti-tank missile.

M1A2 SEPv2 Tank (USA)


M1A2 SEP Tank
M1A2 SEP Tank

Out of all of the tanks on this list, the M1 Abrams is by far the most battle-proven. In service since 1980, the M1 is an older design but constant upgrades have kept it at the top of the list when it comes to ability and sophistication. The M1A2 SEPv2 uses the 120mm smooth-bore gun found in many Western tanks and can fire explosive or advanced armor piercing rounds reportedly capable of defeating the most modern armor.

In terms of protection, this tank uses a design based on the British “Chobham” which is made up of layered steel, ceramics, plastic and Kevlar. The M1 goes a step further by adding depleted uranium which is extremely dense and hard to penetrate. The latest Abrams has greatly improved sights, displays and computers for the crew to use. This improvement includes newer thermal viewers for the commander and gunner, modernized GPS system and higher resolution displays. This means the crew can operate with each other and communicate with other friendly units far more efficiently on the battlefield. Additionally, a remote controlled weapons station on the turret means that the commander no longer needs to expose himself to snipers when operating the machine gun.

T-90AM Tank (Russia)


T 90 Tank
T 90 Tank

The Soviet-era T-72 tank was and continues to be the backbone of many tank forces around the world. Over the last few decades the T-72 was upgraded and improved on a regular basis to remain competitive with Western designs. By the mid-1990s, the design had been upgraded so much that Russian designers decided that it warranted a new model – the T-90. For the most part, the T-90 looks like the T-72 but it also incorporates many of the advanced features from the more expensive T-80.

In terms of protection, the new tank is superior to the T-72 thanks to a new welded turret and the use of the advanced ‘Relikt’ explosive reactive armor which has been purpose built to stand up to the newest American armor piercing rounds. Additional protection is provided by a laser and missile detection and jamming system which makes it far harder to hit the tank with guided anti-tank missiles. For weaponry, the T-90AM uses an improved version of the 125mm smooth-bore cannon found in other Russian/Soviet tanks. The gun uses an auto-loader which, in around 6 to 8 seconds, can load a variety of explosive and armor piercing rounds or a highly accurate anti-tank missile.

Sources: army-technology.com, globalsecurity.org, businessinsider.com, news.bbc.co.uk, military-today.com

Author: Allan Bangirana

Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre who is passionate about tech, games, entertainment and lifestyle news. He enjoys writing about anime and many other topics.

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