Main battle tanks are often classified as belonging to a particular generation, although the actual definition and membership in these generations is not clearly defined. Soviet and Russian military planners organize tanks into a generation of tanks up to 1945, and four generations of main battle tanks, while Canadian strategists organize main battle tanks into three generations. The military of the People’s Republic of China also recognizes three generations of its own tanks.I have a compiled a list of top 10 most powerful tanks in the world.
10. M-95 Degman
M-95 Degman is a prototype Croatian main battle tank, it is also known as the RH-ALAN Degman. The principal improvement over its predecessor M-84 is the application of spaced composite/laminate armor on top of which explosive reactive armor was added, hull front and side skirts are covered giving that extra protection against HEAT shaped-charge munitions. A separate ammunition bustle compartment at the back of the turret adds protection for the crew if tank is hit from behind, and added protection is given by additional slat armor in form of wire mesh with chains, main purpose being to prevent any rocket propelled grenades that might be used to penetrate weakest points at the back of the tank. Đuro Đaković thermal imaging allows enhanced night activity and optional 1,200 hp (890 kW) engine, which increases the power-to-weight ratio to approximately 27 hp/t. There are numerous smaller changes in fire control, communications equipment, track etc. The Degman’s autoloader is 15% faster meaning 9 shells can be fired in a single minute instead of 8 shells, which is M84 norm. The Degman M-95 has not entered serial production yet, however two prototypes were ordered by the Croatian Government, a M-95 model and the other M-84D sample (for export).
9. Type 10
The Type 10 is an advanced Japanese main battle tank. The TK-X (MBT-X) project aims to produce the new Type 10 main battle tank, to replace or complement the existing Type 74 and Type 90 main battle tanks that are currently in service with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. The use of modular components significantly improves the side armor compared to the Type 90. The Commander’s Panoramic Sight has been moved to the right and is located at a higher position than the Type 90, giving the commander a wide range of view. According to a GlobalSecurity report, the vehicle is expected to be armed with a new 120 mm smoothbore gun developed by Japan Steel Works, who also license-produce the Rheinmetall L44 120mm gun for the Type 90 MBT. There is an option for longer barrels of 50 and 55 calibers (L50, L55). The gun will fire newly developed armor-piercing ammunition, but is also compatible with all standard 120 mm NATO ammunition.
The AMX-56 Leclerc, commonly known as the Leclerc, is a main battle tank (MBT) built by Nexter of France. The Leclerc is in service with the French Army and the army of the United Arab Emirates. In production since 1991, the Leclerc entered French service in 1992, replacing the venerable AMX 30 as the country’s main armoured platform. With production now complete, the French Army has a total of 406 Leclercs and the United Arab Emirates Army has 388. The current price in 2011 is €9.3 million. In service only since 1992 (after the Gulf War), the Leclerc has no notable experience in true warzone environments, but has seen deployment on multiple low-intensity conflicts, including 15 AMX-56 Leclercs stationed in Kosovo (KFOR) and others in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the context of UN peace-keeping operations, where their performance was judged satisfactory by French officials.
7. K2 Black Panther
K2 Black Panther is a Republic of Korea main battle tank that will replace most of the various models of M48 Patton tanks and complement the K1 series of main battle tanks currently fielded by the Republic of Korea. Full-scale mass-production is currently on hold due to concerns regarding its transmission and main engine. The K2 Black Panther features state-of-the-art technology and is the second most expensive tank in the world behind only the AMX-56 in price cost. A single K2 unit costs over US$8.5 million per unit. After competing against the Leclerc and Leopard 2, the K2 finally established its first export customer in Turkey. In June 2007, South Korea and Turkey successfully negotiated an arms deal contract worth ₩500 billion (approximately US$540 million) licensing the design of the K2, as well as exporting 40(+15) KT-1 trainer planes, to Turkey. On July 30, 2008, South Korea’s Rotem and Turkey’s Otokar signed a contract worth $540 million for technological and design assistance, also technology transfer of some of the parts of the K2. The technology is to be incorporated to Turkey’s own indigenous future main battle tank, dubbed MİTÜP Altay.
6. Challenger 2
Challenger 2 is a British main battle tank (MBT) currently in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman. It was designed and built by the British company Vickers Defence Systems. Challenger 2 is an extensive redesign of the Challenger 1. Fewer than 5% of components are interchangeable, although the hull and automotive components, namely the powerpack seem similar, they are of a newer design and build to that of Challenger 1. Challenger 2 replaced Challenger 1 in service with the British Army and is also used by the Royal Army of Oman. It has seen operational service in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. In one encounter within the urban area a Challenger 2 came under attack from irregular forces with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The driver’s sight was damaged and while attempting to back away under the commander’s directions, the other sights were damaged and the tank threw its tracks entering a ditch. It was hit directly by fourteen rocket propelled grenades from close range and a MILAN anti-tank missile. The crew survived remaining safe within the tank until the tank was recovered for repairs, the worst damage being to the sighting system. It was back in operation six hours later after repairs. One Challenger 2 operating near Basra survived being hit by 70 RPGs in another incident.
5. Main Battle Tank 3000
The Main Battle Tank 3000 (MBT3000) is a third generation main battle tank currently under development by Norinco with an expected delivery for China’s People’s Liberation Army in 2014. The MBT3000 countermeasures include eight 76 mm (3.0 in) smoke grenade launchers and four 76 mm (3.0 in) shrapnel grenade launchers. The tank has a fire extinguisher feature and explosion suppression system. The gradient is at maximum sixty-percent. The MBT3000 has a water-cooled turbocharger electronic-controlled diesel engine with 1,300 hp (969 kW). The MBT3000 has a cruise speed of 68 km/h (42 mph) and has an operational range of 500 km (310 mi). The tank uses digital technology with an inertial navigation system and Global Positioning System. The tanks ford depth is 4.5 m (4.9 yd) and it has a trench of 2.7 m (3.0 yd). The tank driver has a first generation uncooled thermographic imager.
4. T-99 Armata
The “Armata” Universal Combat Platform is a Russian advanced next generation heavy military tracked vehicle platform. The “Armata” platform is intended to be the basis for a main battle tank, a heavy infantry fighting vehicle, a combat engineering vehicle, an armoured recovery vehicle, a heavy armoured personnel carrier, a tank support combat vehicle and several types of self-propelled artillery under the same codename based on the same chassis. Russian Lieutenant-General Yuri Kovalenko states that the “Armata” combat platform will utilize many features of the T-95 tank, of which only a few prototypes have been built. In the main battle tank variant, the ammunition compartment will be separate from the crew, increasing operational safety while the engine will be more powerful and the armor, main gun and autoloader will be improved. The prototype is scheduled to enter field trials in 2013, about 10 months ahead of schedule. First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov said. The new tank is under development at Uralvagonzavod in Omsk. The first deliveries of the tank to the Russian Armed Forces are scheduled for 2015. A total of 2,300 MBTs are expected to be supplied by 2020. The tank will have an unmanned, remotely controlled turret. It will be digitally controlled by a crewmember located in a separate compartment. It is believed this would eventually lead to the development of a fully robotic tank.
3. M1A3 Abrams
The M1 Abrams is a third-generation main battle tank produced in the United States. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972. Highly mobile, designed for modern armored ground warfare, the M1 is well armed and heavily armored. Notable features include the use of a powerful gas turbine engine. The Army is exploring the possibility of developing a 60-ton Abrams main battle tank that provides as much protection as the current 75-ton version. The concept is under development at the Army’s Armor Center at Fort Knox, Ky. The Army Maneuver Center at Fort Knox and Fort Benning, Ga., will play a leading role in the effort. The new center would combine the work of infantry and armor centers into a unified effort. Plans to lighten the vehicle complement an existing Army effort to build prototypes of a tougher, more high-tech M1A3 Abrams main battle tank by 2014, with an aim to field it by 2017. The Army plans to preserve the Abrams through 2050 by improving networking capability and laser-designation, and providing composite armor upgrades. One advantage of a lighter armored vehicle is a better capability to cross bridges.
2. Leopard 2A7
The Leopard 2A7+ was first shown to the public during the Eurosatory 2010, featuring the label “Developed by KMW – tested and qualified by German MoD”. The Leopard 2A7+ has been tested by the Bundeswehr under the name UrbOb (urban operations). The Leopard 2A7+ is designed to operate in low intensity conflicts as well as in high intensity conflicts. The tank’s protection has been increased by modular armour; the frontal protection has been improved with a dual-kit on the turret and hull front, while 360° protection against RPGs and mine protection increase the survivability of the tank in urban operations. It can fire programmable HE munition and the turret mounted MG3 has been replaced with a stabilized FLW 200 remotely controlled weapon station. The mobility, sustainability and situational awareness have also been improved.
The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. It is designed for rapid repair of battle damage, survivability, cost-effectiveness and off-road performance. Following the model of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, the turret assembly is located nearer the rear than in most main battle tanks. With the engine in front, this layout gives additional protection against a frontal attack, especially for the personnel in the main hull, like the driver. It also creates more space in the rear of the tank that allows increased storage capacity, as well as a rear entrance to the main crew compartment allowing easy access under enemy fire. This allows the tank to be used as a platform for medical disembarkation, a forward command and control station, and an armoured personnel carrier. The rear entrance’s clamshell-style doors provide overhead protection when off- and on-loading cargo and personnel.
The Merkava IV was used more extensively during the Gaza War, as it had been received by the IDF in increasing numbers since 2006, replacing more of the Merkava II and III versions of the tank which were in service. One brigade of Merkava IVs managed to bisect the Gaza strip in five hours without casualties.