Next Generation MBT Discussion and Concepts

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
This article is a discussion about considerations for the future use of tanks. As the authors mention it is UK-centric but can be applicable to other armies.
I really dislike articles that give a vibe of more questions. It is insightful though, about how tanks are a niche capability, not the one stop shop for all your maneuver needs.

Here's the same article but G-rated this time:
Tanks of the 4th generation are not going to be the main element of maneuver, but an essential part of the land battlegroup. Tank and infantry brigades will now be brigade combat teams.
Kudos, by the way, to the Americans for pioneering this.
Soviets, you were way too early and couldn't really enjoy the true benefit of independent brigades, but nice try.

The technological advancements that are now being carefully tested and matured to enable the 4th generation MBT, are actually breeding the next generation battle group.
They're not trying to make only a tank, but develop these core capabilities to be the COMMON denominator of all maneuvering elements.

All elements on the frontline will be actively protected (APS).
All elements will actively monitor their surroundings and feed and be fed information to and from other elements, including the EM spectrum.
All elements will be transmission nodes to create a distributed, user-enabled network.
And as many elements as possible will be armed for urgent response.

So every tank, every artillery piece, heavy UGV, infantryman, will have a datalink to a grand BMS, will have early warning to threats, shared protection, and an enhanced ability to plan missions.

The tank's uniqueness will be reduced to the fact that it is manned and can control other UGVs. However, that does not detract from its usefulness.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
All this battlefield network capability is a huge plus... until it is stuffed up. I don’t have any knowledge on how vulnerable this capability is but given Chinese efforts in all sorts of electronic weapons and cyber espionage, one has to wonder. The Russians aren’t standing still either. As for APS, there are significant advances but attack from above is a threat to thinly armoured tops of MBTs and IFV vehicles unless these weapons can be effectively countered.

From a Canadian perspective, given the cost of Leo 2s and the expense of deploying them, tracked IFVS might have been a better option for the CAF. Any major tank requirements in a European battle from Canada would be minimal and late. IFVs are less costly and could be stationed in Europe with less political blowback from the Canadian electorate and would be an important contribution to our NATO obligations.
 

Big_Zucchini

Active Member
All this battlefield network capability is a huge plus... until it is stuffed up. I don’t have any knowledge on how vulnerable this capability is but given Chinese efforts in all sorts of electronic weapons and cyber espionage, one has to wonder. The Russians aren’t standing still either. As for APS, there are significant advances but attack from above is a threat to thinly armoured tops of MBTs and IFV vehicles unless these weapons can be effectively countered.

From a Canadian perspective, given the cost of Leo 2s and the expense of deploying them, tracked IFVS might have been a better option for the CAF. Any major tank requirements in a European battle from Canada would be minimal and late. IFVs are less costly and could be stationed in Europe with less political blowback from the Canadian electorate and would be an important contribution to our NATO obligations.
As a man who worked for many years in everything electronic, I can tell you this is a very delicate field.
There are 2 ways to conduct electronic warfare:
1)One side uses highly complex techniques to mask its transmissions and data, to avoid incursions into the network, while the other side tries constantly to hack into it.
Much like 2 armies prepare for a fight in multiple domains, such as air force, ground force, navy, and then different types of integration and cooperation between them, so are electronic systems prepared in the same manner for a battle of strategies.
This strategy allows surgical attacks into a network and its exploitation, but is slow and often interrupted.

2)Brute force it. You transmit at maximum power in a large cone ahead, over a wide spectrum, so as to disrupt communications. But the transmitting platform is very short lived because it's lit up like a christmas tree, and it's going to equally disrupt communications of friendly troops ahead of this system, who are most in need of stable comms.


Regarding APS, the whole APS vs top attack situation is quite funny. Absurd, even.
The only APS that can defeat a top attack missile are western.
The only ATGMs in service that are top attack, are western.
Well there's the Chinese copy of the Spike NLOS but that's an exception to a still solid rule.
So do not worry about it.
Worry for the Russians, whose Afganit can only deploy smoke against the tens of thousands of Spike missiles serving in 32 countries, or the even more abundant Javelin that is common enough on Russia's borders.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #44
Regarding APS, the whole APS vs top attack situation is quite funny. Absurd, even.
The only APS that can defeat a top attack missile are western.
The only ATGMs in service that are top attack, are western.
Well there's the Chinese copy of the Spike NLOS but that's an exception to a still solid rule.
So do not worry about it.
Worry for the Russians, whose Afganit can only deploy smoke against the tens of thousands of Spike missiles serving in 32 countries, or the even more abundant Javelin that is common enough on Russia's borders.
On the one hand you have a great point. The Afghanit isn't even in service. The Arena might be in service before Afghanit is, given the testing done on T-72s and the recent suggestion that the T-90M will get it and it's an even less sophisticated system. On the other hand China has top-attack munitions, and as you correctly pointed out so do many other countries. If we think outside the over-analyzed Russia-China-NATO dynamic, it becomes a different picture. Turkey is in the process of fielding an APS, could they face a top-attack threat? They certainly could. Russia is working on top-attack in all three areas, loitering munitions (see Concern Kalashnikov's recent work), fire-and-forget helo missiles (izdelie 305 LMUR), and top-attack ATGMs (OKR Sokol). Any one of those could make it's way to Syria, or Armenia, and be used against Turkish or Turkish-supplied tanks. Or consider Libya where Turkey has deployed considerable forces. Could they run into western-source top-attack munitions? Of course they could. So the limitations of their APS are very much relevant.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
Regarding APS, the whole APS vs top attack situation is quite funny. Absurd, even.
The only APS that can defeat a top attack missile are western.

The only ATGMs in service that are top attack, are western.

So do not worry about it.
Worry for the Russians, whose Afganit can only deploy smoke against the tens of thousands of Spike missiles serving in 32 countries, or the even more abundant Javelin that is common enough on Russia's borders.
Plus any APS system has a small signature that enemy electronic intelligence will pick up — which is why there are other counter measures that Singapore’s Armoured Brigades (SAB) have to deploy and use when an APS system is installed in the Hunter IFVs (that use a Samson 30mm RWS) that is just under 30 tons.

SABs are equipped with L2SGs, Broncos and IFVs. The Hunter IFV will allow the last batch of Ultra M113s to be phased out.

Compared to the Bionix II, the Hunter IFV is longer, 6.9 versus 5.9 metres, the greater length of its tracks compensating the increased weight when considering the mean maximum pressure. This new IFV is wider at 3.4 metres in width and 3.4 metres high at the turret top. And it is too wide to operate in certain types of terrain — which means the Bionix II equipped SABs are still needed to seek out our enemy in certain types of closed terrain.

It’s not an ATGM vs APS equipped tank fight, rather, a SAB’s goal is pressure forward and use systems of systems engineering to kill our enemy OODA loop via EW.
 
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Big_Zucchini

Active Member
Singapore hasn't yet deployed an APS on the Hunter. Perhaps it did not buy it yet, awaiting a certain version.

Since the Samson turret was purchased, Rafael has made improvements to the Trophy and introduced IAI's OTHELLO system, a hostile fire detector, that keeps the radars turned off until hostile fire is identified.
It is possible the Hunter will get that version.
Notice the optical sensor above the radar panel:
whatsapp-image-2020-07-23-at-110022.jpeg

Or it might wait for another version altogether. This year, the Barak MBT was supposed to enter service with an entirely new APS capable of defeating APFSDS. It was said to use Elbit interceptors since Iron Fist long had that capability (demonstrated in 2008), but these new Merkava 4M tanks entered service instead and the project was delayed as the companies likely could not make the APS in time. But eventually there will be something new and better.
 
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