Russia unveiled its tank of the future in 2015, prompting other countries to consider upgrades to their own tanks. Battle tanks remain vital to
10. М-20UP-1, Serbia
Serbia unveiled its plans to build the M-20UP-1 in 2015. It’s expected to be similar to the Russian-made T-90 tank rather than it’s T-14 Armata battle tank. However, its crew will be enclosed in a multi-layered armored capsule similar to the Armata design and separate from the ammunition container.
The turret and the 125mm smooth-bore gun will be remotely controlled by crew members. The turret will hold 48 rounds of ammunition and also be able to fire laser-guided missiles.
9. Arjun MK-II, India
India continues to upgrade its tanks to the Arjun MK-II, though reportedly the country is still relying heavily on its T-72 tanks and a Russian designed T-90S. The Arjun will include similar features to other main battle tanks of the future including automatic fire detection and suppression systems and nuclear, biological, chemical protection systems. A tank urban survival kit that includes laser warning and an aerosol smoke grenade system will help it battle in urban environments. A panoramic sight with night vision will improve its ability to engage targets at night. An anti-helicopter round is also under development.
8. Altay, Turkey
Turkey maintains one of the world’s largest tank forces but mainly uses German and American-built tanks. That may be changing as Turkey works with military contractors to develop the Altay.
The Altay will have a 120 mm smoothbore gun in a 360-degree powered traversing turret. Its features will include protection against chemical, radioactive and biological attacks as well as night vision, thermal imaging and stabilized laser range finders to help soldiers locate enemy vehicles and forces. A 12.7 mm heavy machine gun will ward off light armored vehicles and low-flying aircraft while a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun may be placed next to the main gun. There are also smoke grenades in the plans.
7. Type 10, Japan
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is designing the Type 10 or TK-X, a fourth-generation main battle tank to be used by the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. A new modular ceramic composite armor will increase protection while keeping weight down. Like many other tanks, the Type 10 will feature advanced day/night sights that give the tank commander a 360-degree view.
Japan gave a demonstration of its tank in 2015 that drew attention to its hydro-pneumatic active suspension that can lift the front or rear ends or left or right sides of the ground. This will let the tanks, largely used for defense, take cover behind terrain like a sand dune with only the turret visible to the enemy. The Type 10 battle tanks of the future, lighter and more agile than its Type 90 MBTs, are better suited for urban combat.
6. M-95 Degman, Croatia
The M-95 Degman will be an upgraded version of the Yugoslavian M-84. Upgraded M-84 matching the new standard will be referred to as M-84D. The new tank will continue to have features like a low silhouette and light weight. Improvements will include explosive reactive armor, an improved fire control system, thermal imaging devices, and a nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance system. Like other main battle tanks of the future, there will be remote operations of the guns. It is not sure when the new tanks will be produced.
5. MBT-3000, China
Chinese defense firm Norinco continues work on the VT-4 main battle tank also known as the MBT-3000. The tank, being developed to export to other countries, will feature a 125 mm smoothbore cannon that can fire anti-tank guided missiles. A roof-mounted 12.7 mm machine gun can be remotely operated from within the tank while an all-weather thermographic sighting system will improve soldiers’ ability to target sites. Norinco has done business with Pakistan and there is speculation that the MBT-3000, which is similar to the older Soviet T-72, may be of interest to some African and Middle Eastern countries.
4. M1A3 Abrams, United States
The United States plans to modify its Abrams tank while keeping the basic Abrams design through 2050. The M1A3 Abrams improvements like adding road wheels and an improved suspension system will make it more mobile. Other changes will include lighter but more effective armor that utilizes depleted uranium and ceramic armor, a more durable track, and improved sites. A lighter M256A2 120-millimeter cannon that’s 15 percent lighter than the M256 and has a 50 percent longer lifespan may replace the M246. Prototypes remain under development.
The upgrade to M1A3 may not happen until 2020 or later. Meanwhile, the Abrams M1A2 will see advancements including improved computer processors, high-resolution color displays, a forward-looking infrared sighting system and a tank-infantry phone.
3. Israel’s Future Tank
Planning has started to develop a successor to the Merkava though it remains in the discussion phase. Possible features include a hybrid engine that would work on fuel and electricity. Its guns may be designed to shoot a laser or an electromagnetic pulse. A new type of ammo in development will be able to go through a building and destroy it in a timed manner. Protection will include the Trophy Armoured Shield Protection System known as “Windbreaker.” It uses fixed radar antennas to track objects approaching the tank and, predicting its trajectory, shoots a canister of ball bearings at the object. Unlike most main battle tanks with a crew of three, Israel’s tanks of the future may only have a crew of two.
2. PL-01, Poland
Obrum part of Poland Defense Holdings, is developing the stealthy PL-01 armored fighting vehicle. A prototype is expected to be completed in 2016. The vehicle will be based upon the Swedish CV90120-T light tank. It measures 7 meters long, 3.8 meters wide and 2.8 meters high, making it smaller than the United States’ Abrams and capable of being carried on an airplane and dropped into combat. What makes the PL-01 so different is its active infrared camouflage system. The surface of the tank can be heated or cooled so that heat-seeking missiles and infrared sensors used by infantry and tank-searching helicopters can’t find it. The muzzle even features a suppressor and a radar-deflecting surface.
The fully automated unmanned turret with its 120mm gun will be able to shoot guided anti-tank rockets as well as its regular projectiles. A remote controlled module may include a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher and either a 7.62mm or 12.7 mm caliber machine gun. An active defense system that intercepts incoming missiles and the ability to shoot smoke grenades will increase its defense capabilities.
1. T-14 Armata, Russia
The T-14’s advancements are driving discussions around the world of how to develop the main battle tanks of the future. Its turret is unmanned and capable of being operated by three crew members from within the hull. It features a 125mm tank gun and Russian armor-piercing and high-explosive shells as well. Additional weaponry may include a coaxial 30mm autocannon and PKT machine gun.
There will be active protection devices meant to intercept incoming missiles and slat armor panels at the rear to help protect against shoulder-launched anti-tank weapons. An active electronically scanned array radar suite similar to what’s found on a fighter jet will let the T-14 track multiple targets at once. While similar features may be found on other countries’ tanks of the future, Russia’s ahead of the game.