Making Tanks ‘Great’ again
– Sachin Kamath
Today’s Main Battle Tanks (MBT) are becoming increasingly vulnerable with improving ammunitions, Next Generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Tanks and Anti Tank systems are like forts and cannons of the past, improvement in one compels the other to improve to stay in-game. Thus, it is paramount to make “Tanks great again”.
T-84BM Oplot, one of the template tanks
The Ukrainian T-84BM Oplot could serve as a template for better protection. Let’s have a look at Oplot, below you can see the outer profile of the Ukrainian main battle tank T-84 BM Oplot. The profile is compact and the tank has a really small cross-section when compared with western tanks.
Tanks’ ERA panels
Let’s observe the Applique ERA mounts showing slots for ERA panels. Surprisingly the Tank has multiple panels placed one above the other. This allows the tanks to offer much better protection against any conventional anti-tank ammunition.
Each empty slot in this mount of T-84 BM Oplot can accommodate an ERA panel. The ERA mount (As can be seen in picture 4) itself is detachable and can be replaced in a matter of minutes on the battlefield. This will offer T-84 BM Oplot an unmatched advantage in terms of protection and speed at which it can come back into the fight.
Though Picture 4 is just computer-generated graphics, look at picture 5 where a factory fresh mount is waiting for its installation on T-84 BM.
In a battle, if the mount itself gets damaged due to a hit, then the commander can simply retreat to the rear of the armour formation, replace the damaged mount with a new mount in a matter of minutes and the tank is as good as new.
This is a significant advantage. The combined triple ERA panel arrangement is what makes the applique so effective. Here is a picture (Picture 6) that explains why the main turret would remain untouched even by the most potent anti-tank munitions. Look closely at this ERA configuration. The angled mount makes the armor even thicker. The projectile has to pass through three layers of ERA and RHA before it finally touches the turret. This is an impossible task even for modern-day long rod DU penetrators of the west.
Look closely at this image (Picture 7). It explains how the ERA is triggered. The ERA itself is a series of explosive lenses. The explosive lens is what makes it much more effective than conventional ERA designs which consist of an explosive “sandwich” between metal sheaths. Explosive lens exerts significantly more “force” on the APFSDS projectile which can be enough to shatter it into multiple fragments thereby reducing its impact vastly.
This innovative way of protection can help any modern day tank to survive multiple hits and it can be template for better and more protected future Indian tanks.
We hope you and your family are safe from the pandemic as well as the recent cyclone Tauktae. If you liked our article, we could appreciate your help in sharing our articles where you deem fit.
Tanks are great…aren’t they? Indian Army recently floated an RFI for 350 light tanks? Want to know the contenders? Check out here. We value your opinion and hence we conduct polls. Feel free to check out the polls and cast your vote.