Next Generation MBT Discussion and Concepts

Lone Ranger

Member
With your replies and source you follow, I am now not surprise you are not aware that Rafael wasn't a company prior to 2002.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
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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.
Just to circle back on this, India appears to have completed development of their own top-attack ATGM, the Amogha-3. Top-attack munitions will become more and more common, and the threshold for operating them will get lower and lower. The recent conflict in Azerbaijan is a good example of their mass usage.

In my opinion any next-gen MBT will need to be prepared to deal with them as a battlefield threat.

 

Big_Zucchini

Well-Known Member
Many current generation MBTs already have the capability to defeat top attack munitions. But it is bizarre that Russia neither develops its own platforms to deal with them, nor develops its own advanced ATGMs.
It had the Hermes missile system in development, I'm not too sure about the details but it's a sort of modular, 3rd generation missile intended for the brigade or division level, instead of the company or frontline platform level.

Russia has the technological base to skip straight to 4th gen, and quickly adapt to 5th gen on the same hardware by putting its next gen platforms to production and use, and generally invest in theater-wide, all-user networking.
But apparently other items have a higher priority, for some reason.
 

Feanor

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Many current generation MBTs already have the capability to defeat top attack munitions. But it is bizarre that Russia neither develops its own platforms to deal with them, nor develops its own advanced ATGMs.
Yeah, I honestly don't know what to say. Maybe if there was another major flare-up in Ukraine and the LDNR lost a few (or few dozen) armored vehicles to them, it would come as a wakeup. After they saw the T-72B3 performance, they quickly rolled out the T-72B3M (B3 saw action in summer of '14 and winter of '15, by spring of '16 the B3M was sighted near Rostov-na-Donu).

It had the Hermes missile system in development, I'm not too sure about the details but it's a sort of modular, 3rd generation missile intended for the brigade or division level, instead of the company or frontline platform level.
Russia has apparently deployed and tested in Syria its own lineup for loitering munitions, based around the Zala Kub and Lancent. Details are lacking and we only recently got confirmation of this in an interview. Hermes is larger and appears to be multi-purpose guided missile whose place in the ORBAT remains murky. I think it would be a good replacement for current ATGM carriers in brigades. There's OKR Sokol, a project for a barrel-launched ATGM meant for both current-gen and T-14 MBTs that's also top-attack. So that's where that stands. I suspect that in a small-medium conflict fought in the near future (3-5 years) we would definitely see Russia using at least some and at most many top-attack munitions of multiple types. Though Russia is definitely behind many countries here, largely due to inertial thinking about the ATGM and how it's to be employed.

Russia has the technological base to skip straight to 4th gen, and quickly adapt to 5th gen on the same hardware by putting its next gen platforms to production and use, and generally invest in theater-wide, all-user networking.
But apparently other items have a higher priority, for some reason.
I'm not sure what 4th and 5th gen refers to here. Currently ATGM generations, as far as I can tell, and with all the reservations that normally come with dividing military hardware into generational categories, 1st gen wire guided, 2nd gen beam-riders, 3rd gen fire and forget top attack. These are of course broad generalizations and some have referred to the newest Kornet variant with the new warhead and the range of either 8 or 10 kms, depending on who you believe, as a 2.5th gen ATGM. To make matters more complex while 3rd gens are broadly available to 1st world countries, second-gen beam-riders and in some cases even wire-guided 1st gens, are still in service. Complete replacement seems to be too expensive even for quite wealthy operators. So what would a 4th or 5th gen ATGM be? Are you referring to the hypersonic Hermes Variant called Klevok that was recently mentioned?

OKR Sokol is what made me think of the Israeli "missile tanks", and then the potential for integration of NLOS munitions into a next-gen MBT. And if you combine that with say targeting provided by an organic UAV, the MBT as a independent platform becomes more viable, and can contribute better to overall battlespace awareness as well as striking targets of opportunity faster. Hypothetically an ATGM team with a NLOS system, a UAV team, and a 3rd gen MBT currently provide something similar but that OODA loop is much longer then if the tank crew can be present on the battlefield itself, spot the threat with its UAV, and strike the threat, without coming into direct LOS using organic NLOS.
 

Big_Zucchini

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure what 4th and 5th gen refers to here. Currently ATGM generations, as far as I can tell, and with all the reservations that normally come with dividing military hardware into generational categories, 1st gen wire guided, 2nd gen beam-riders, 3rd gen fire and forget top attack. These are of course broad generalizations and some have referred to the newest Kornet variant with the new warhead and the range of either 8 or 10 kms, depending on who you believe, as a 2.5th gen ATGM. To make matters more complex while 3rd gens are broadly available to 1st world countries, second-gen beam-riders and in some cases even wire-guided 1st gens, are still in service. Complete replacement seems to be too expensive even for quite wealthy operators. So what would a 4th or 5th gen ATGM be? Are you referring to the hypersonic Hermes Variant called Klevok that was recently mentioned?
Within circles debating defense matters, generations of ATGMs and tanks exist in a somewhat uniform matter, but they're not official. There's no real official definition of generations of these types of hardware as a global standard, and any system is almost as good as any other.
Past definitions of generations may have been valid, but were not renewed and led to great confusion as technology progressed.

Therefore I will propose a new categorization system, which includes recent developments. Generations go as such:
1. MCLOS - manual command only, most primitive form of optic-integrated guidance.
2. SACLOS - semi automatic guidance where an operator must keep his sights on target at all times, but no longer has to use other controls.
3. Fire and Forget - a sensor is mounted on the missile instead of the CLU, and guidance is automatic. This marks an inherent and irreversible jump in ATGM costs.
4. FO&U - Fire, Observe, and Update, adds onto the F&F mode and allows an operator to see what the missile sees, and many capabilities that this permits like re-targeting, aborting, or even hitting an NLOS target. Practically, because it provides an amazing vantage point for visual intel, operators of such missiles no longer use F&F mode regularly.
5. Adds networking capability to operate in a network-enabled battlespace. Allows employment of the missile even by units that do not have it, by calling one from another unit. Significant reduction of the OODA loop is enabled.

This is not entirely inofficial though. Industry has called missiles like the Spike 4th gen missiles, and Spike LR2 and MMP as 5th gen.


OKR Sokol is what made me think of the Israeli "missile tanks", and then the potential for integration of NLOS munitions into a next-gen MBT.
I disagree with you on this. Specifically, those missile tanks as a concept are obsolete. They were designed around the technological realities of the 70's through early 2000's. Specifically, they were made as a camouflage, so that enemies with okay-ish VISINT would see them as ordinary tanks and therefore low priority targets.

Of course, the idea of missile hubs, is certainly a good one. But it's not what they were.
I think the missile hub of the future should be something along the lines of Poland's next gen tank destroyer, for the battalion level operations, and an MLRS integrated with rockets and missiles like the Hermes for example, for the brigade level.
 

Feanor

Super Moderator
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #69
Within circles debating defense matters, generations of ATGMs and tanks exist in a somewhat uniform matter, but they're not official. There's no real official definition of generations of these types of hardware as a global standard, and any system is almost as good as any other.
Past definitions of generations may have been valid, but were not renewed and led to great confusion as technology progressed.

Therefore I will propose a new categorization system, which includes recent developments. Generations go as such:
1. MCLOS - manual command only, most primitive form of optic-integrated guidance.
2. SACLOS - semi automatic guidance where an operator must keep his sights on target at all times, but no longer has to use other controls.
3. Fire and Forget - a sensor is mounted on the missile instead of the CLU, and guidance is automatic. This marks an inherent and irreversible jump in ATGM costs.
4. FO&U - Fire, Observe, and Update, adds onto the F&F mode and allows an operator to see what the missile sees, and many capabilities that this permits like re-targeting, aborting, or even hitting an NLOS target. Practically, because it provides an amazing vantage point for visual intel, operators of such missiles no longer use F&F mode regularly.
5. Adds networking capability to operate in a network-enabled battlespace. Allows employment of the missile even by units that do not have it, by calling one from another unit. Significant reduction of the OODA loop is enabled.

This is not entirely inofficial though. Industry has called missiles like the Spike 4th gen missiles, and Spike LR2 and MMP as 5th gen.
This is helpful I think, thanks.

I disagree with you on this. Specifically, those missile tanks as a concept are obsolete. They were designed around the technological realities of the 70's through early 2000's. Specifically, they were made as a camouflage, so that enemies with okay-ish VISINT would see them as ordinary tanks and therefore low priority targets.
Perhaps I wasn't expressing myself accurately. I didn't mean that the future is missile tanks. I meant that this is what got me thinking in terms of FMBTs carrying some sort of NLOS guided capability.

Of course, the idea of missile hubs, is certainly a good one. But it's not what they were.
I think the missile hub of the future should be something along the lines of Poland's next gen tank destroyer, for the battalion level operations, and an MLRS integrated with rockets and missiles like the Hermes for example, for the brigade level.
The Rafael offering for Poland right? It practically mirrors existing Chinese and Indian designs, at least at a glance. The BMP-mounted one looks even more similar to the Amogha 3. That's kind of what I imagined too, especially with dedicated ATGM carriers still being in the ORBAT for some countries, while the capability they provide with a SACLOS ATGM is simply not worth a dedicated platform.

Though it raises organizational questions. I don't know how Poland organizes its SP ATGM carriers, but Russia (likely one of the bigger users of the type) has them in separate arty btlns at the brigade level. If the MLRS/GM combination is a brigade-level artillery btln, and the tactical GM is also a brigade-level arty btln, organizationally it doesn't seem to offer much. Operationally of course SP ATGMs are frequently separated into batteries and even fire platoons, and attached at the company and btln level. But perhaps, with this new reality, a new ORBAT is needed that makes SP NLOS GM carriers a btln-level asset, not dissimilar to btln mortars? Especially for mechanized formations?
 

Big_Zucchini

Well-Known Member
Perhaps I wasn't expressing myself accurately. I didn't mean that the future is missile tanks. I meant that this is what got me thinking in terms of FMBTs carrying some sort of NLOS guided capability.
Oh, then yes I agree with you on that.
A lot of organic firepower is added to frontline units today and it's being translated to universal firepower carried on many widespread platforms.
If tanks and IFVs can get small drones as both recon and loitering munitions, and tanks in general need to provide the decisive firepower on the battlefield, then it makes sense to take existing missiles, resize them for a gun, and give them to tanks to introduce an energetic NLOS capability.

But despite technological convergence that makes this now a more lucrative idea than ever before, there are other factors that might invalidate this idea entirely.
First, is the increasing size of munitions and guns. This gnaws at the existing ammo belly of tanks. The American OMT (Abrams replacement) concepts all showed roughly 30 rounds per tank.
Second, APS on not only tanks but any combat vehicle will be able to defeat APFSDS in the future, regardless of its size. That means any hardened target will take multiple shots to defeat, not one.
So planners will have less tolerance for missiles.


The Rafael offering for Poland right? It practically mirrors existing Chinese and Indian designs, at least at a glance. The BMP-mounted one looks even more similar to the Amogha 3. That's kind of what I imagined too, especially with dedicated ATGM carriers still being in the ORBAT for some countries, while the capability they provide with a SACLOS ATGM is simply not worth a dedicated platform.
Technically, not a Rafael offering only but still a competition, but yes. I haven't thought about China's and India's visually similar systems.
What is needed is such a hub, but obviously one encompassing more types of munitions than either of the above mentioned examples.
Rafael's offer to Poland is the most flexible in terms of missile capabilities - it can attack not only armored targets but also soft ones as well, gather intel while guiding, and of course serve in both attack and intel many supported assets. But at the same time the Spike NLOS missiles are very big, and as seen on the AFT-10 (clones but whatever), quite limiting.
If Rafael manages to stick, say, 8 NLOS missiles and 8 ER missiles on that K9 platform, then that would be a good brigade level solution.


But perhaps, with this new reality, a new ORBAT is needed that makes SP NLOS GM carriers a btln-level asset, not dissimilar to btln mortars? Especially for mechanized formations
I think btln is about as low as you can go, because any lower and you're giving ultra expensive hardware carrying a lot of ultra expensive munitions at once, to an organizational level that does not have a lot of technical expertise, and has a lot of grunts that destroy things too easily.
At the btln level I would recommend going for a much cheaper solution.
Think an easily concealed medium UGV that serves as a loitering munition hub. That way every munition costs several thousand dollars at best, and fitted with components that can actually be entirely mass manufactured on an automated line and do not require expensive precision work.

A mass availability of drones at the btln level is an amazing capability because they're so versatile. They can plug many temporary deficiencies for a maneuvering and resource-guzzling force.
 

Big_Zucchini

Well-Known Member
And just as I wrote this, TheWarZone put out yet another excellent article, this time on the Polish WB Electronics Warmate:

Apparently they already have plans with Rheinmetall for a UGV-based drone hub, carrying up to 6 units at a time.

That ROSY setup at the front is a nice touch.

So, imagine you take that 6-tube launcher, and stick it vertically on the back of a tank's turret or even hull. Not on top of it, but attached to a wall. And there you have an MBT capable of deploying UAVs either independently, or on request by other users within the same network.
Deploying such drones for recon would allow tank crews, IFV/APC crews, infantry, and basically any maneuvering asset, to send strike requests, to which anyone can respond - ATGM users, artillery, aviation, or other tanks/IFVs that have LoS to the target.

These things may sound futuristic, but they're not. All it takes to fulfill this is to buy the hardware presented here, i.e drones and their launchers, which are available on the market at the highest possible TRL, and then equip the maneuvering forces with some SDR-based network with mesh capability in mind. All these were done, and to get it to operation you need time and organization, not development of new unexplored tech.
 

Terran

Active Member
Possible gun option for the next Euro tank. Blends case telescoped ammo in a 130mm gun seems to have some soft recoil to. If this does what it says on the tin it would have a more compact shell to.
 

Big_Zucchini

Well-Known Member
Possible gun option for the next Euro tank. Blends case telescoped ammo in a 130mm gun seems to have some soft recoil to. If this does what it says on the tin it would have a more compact shell to.
There is no mention of a 130mm gun in the article. To the contrary. France is interested in demonstrating and pitting its 140mm against Rheinmetall's 130mm.
The cartridge length is 130cm, i.e 1300mm, making it almost 400mm longer than existing 120mm ones.
 

Terran

Active Member
  • Compact ammunition: with a maximum length of 130 cm, ASCALON telescoped ammunition will be more compact than an equivalent calibre ammunition. It can be stored and integrated in a self-loading turret, a technology mastered by Nexter and proven over many years on the Leclerc tank.
I confused length with bore thankyou for correcting me. It’s listing a 130 CM length. You are correct vs 120mm however the 140mm rounds from past concepts were well over doubled the length of 120mm. The XM962 which was a APFSDS round for the Abrams 140mm demonstrator CATTB “Thumper” was 1,482mm long. An M829A1 equivalent from the same era being 984mm long. So clearly vs the 140mm unitary types of the past this would be more compact. Though obviously huge. Vs the 130mm I don’t have solids but estimated length of shell is 130cm. Meaning a pretty consistent length.
 
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