Change of priorities
Soviet tank builders have surprised the world more than once: now Russian developers have taken over the baton. As TASS reported on August 25, within the framework of the launched Army-2020 forum, the 38th Scientific Research Testing Institute of Armored Weapons and Equipment (NII BTVT) presented the concept of an unusual two-link tank.
It should be said right away that we are not talking about an alternative for the T-14, created on the basis of the Armata tracked platform. This is the car of the future.
“Such a combat vehicle is being considered today by specialists from the 38th Institute in the form of a two-link articulated design. The front combat module can have a control compartment with three crew members in a highly protected armored capsule. In the middle part of the combat module, it is planned to place an uninhabited tower with the installation of an electrothermal-chemical gun with an automatic loader in it,
– said Colonel Yevgeny Gubanov, deputy chief of the NII BTVT.
They want to increase the capabilities of the weapon through the use of new compositions, where the ignition will be carried out by means of an electric discharge. They intend to hit targets with new hypersonic projectiles. In addition to an innovative weapon, the tank will receive an active protection complex, a laser system to blind the enemy, and an electromagnetic pulse generator. The complex will complement the impressive arsenal of the front module, which will be able to hit targets with missiles at a distance of up to twelve kilometers.
The second link is designed to accommodate a three thousand horsepower multi-fuel gas turbine engine. It will also be possible to place a module for motorized riflemen and a compartment with additional weapons. It is allowed to place various ground and flying drones in the module, which will be able to conduct reconnaissance and search for mines.
The high efficiency of using the tank in battle should be ensured by what is now called “transparent armor”. As far as can be judged, it is about installing many sensors around the perimeter of the tank, which will provide the crew of a combat vehicle with the most complete information about what is happening around.
The presented concept is just a start for the future. The engineers explain the original layout by the need to increase the firepower and security of the tank in comparison with existing counterparts. The latter invariably leads to an increase in the already very large mass of combat vehicles. At the same time, the use of two links will reduce the specific ground pressure.
The 2040s are named as a possible date for the adoption of the tank. It is noteworthy that at about the same time (or somewhat earlier), the Europeans want to put into operation a promising MGCS (Main Ground Combat System) tank. Unlike Russian designers, German and French engineers seem to have chosen the conservative path. Now the tank is seen as a development of ideas embodied in such machines as “Leclerc” and “Leopard 2”.
The main difference between the new “European” should be a weapon of increased power. Germany’s Rheinmetall is currently experimenting with a 130mm cannon using the Challenger 2 as a base, while France’s Nexter is testing its new 140mm cannon using a modernized version of the Leclerc as its base. The Americans have even less certainty on this score, who do not intend to abandon the Abrams so far. Overseas, of course, they plan to have a new tank with them, but for now we are talking about a light combat vehicle designed to complement the M1 Abrams.
Reviving the “dead”
For all the unusualness of the concept, it should be noted that two-section combat vehicles are far from being new. Back in the 80s, the USSR began to produce a two-link all-terrain vehicle on a caterpillar track DT-10 “Vityaz”, designed to transport goods in difficult climatic conditions (for example, in the Far North). For the Russian armed forces, a version of the DT-10PM “Omnipresent” was created, in which special attention was paid to armor.
History also knows two-tier tanks. An example is the Swedish light tank of a two-section design UDES XX 20, the development of which began in the 70s. The combat vehicle weighed 26 tons, they wanted to equip it with the L / 44 gun. The crew is three people. The Swedes built only one instance: as tests showed, the layout had both pros and cons. Among the advantages is the solution of many issues related to armament and protection of crew members.
“Another question is that, as a rule, all this rested on either the impossibility of ensuring effective communication between the two links, or the rather high cost of the full implementation of this plan. This can be said about the two-tier layout as a whole “,
– quotes “Gazeta.Ru” the words of the military expert Mikhail Baryatinsky in his comments on the promising Russian tank.
Another issue is related to the mobility of such a combat vehicle. Of course, in some cases (for example, in extreme climatic conditions), the selected layout can give the tank certain advantages over the MBT of the usual scheme. At the same time, it is difficult to imagine the use of such a machine in urban conditions, where an important requirement is good (or at least satisfactory) maneuverability. It is obvious that a tank consisting of two links simply cannot provide it. Meanwhile, the failure of one link or block between them in a real battle will mean the actual loss of an expensive combat unit.
In a word, if such a scheme had indisputable advantages over the classical one (in terms of the sum of factors), then tank builders would have actively used it before, but we do not see this.
There is one more factor worth noting. The thesis is true, according to which the combat potential of the tank of the future will depend not so much on the chosen layout as on the electronic “filling”. Combined with more powerful weapons and an active protection complex, such a vehicle can gain a decisive conceptual advantage over Cold War tanks.
This is indirectly confirmed by the above-mentioned American Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program, designed to give the US Army a light tank. The Griffin II vehicle presented by the General Dynamics Ground System, although it will have less protection in comparison with the main battle tanks, will be able to boast of firepower at the level of the best Russian or Western MBTs.
Also, a heavy two-section tank does not fit into the modern “trend” of creating unmanned ground combat systems. With a high degree of probability, due to the lack of a crew compartment, they will have a lower mass than modern tanks. This means that the problem of increasing mass, voiced by Russian specialists, may in the future be solved by itself.