The return to grace of the light tank in modern armies

A few days ago, the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment based in Carpiagne received the first two Armored Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicles, or EBRC, also designated Jaguar, to replace its AMX10RC light tanks. If the French armies, accustomed to external operations in Africa and the Middle East, have never overlooked this type of armored vehicle combining firepower and mobility with the AMX10RC and the ERC-90, a very large majority of the world's armed forces removed them from their inventories on restructuring funds after the end of the cold war. More recently, the combination of the hardening of asymmetrical engagements on the one hand, and the return of the hypothesis of high intensity combat on the other hand, led several large armies to reconsider their positions, and to acquire light tanks again. to complete their armored parks. Beyond the French jaguar, many new models have been developed in recent years to join the world's major armies, such as the Chinese Type 15, the Russian Sprut-SD or the American MFP. What are the performances and employment doctrines of these materials called upon to play an increasing role in future military commitments?

This synthesis presents the characteristics of the main models of light tanks in staffing or in development in the world, with the Chinese Type 15, the French EBRC Jaguar, the American MFP and the Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD.

China: Type 15

First presented publicly in October 2019 on the occasion of the imposing military parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, the Type 15 light tank marks, along with the Type 99/A heavy tank, the emancipation of the Chinese armies and industry from the Soviet and then Russian model. Indeed, if the Russian land forces do not operate, strictly speaking, light tanks identified as such in their inventory (apart from the airborne forces), delegating this type of mission to infantry fighting vehicles or even heavy tanks , Chinese forces must intervene in certain environments that are particularly hostile to heavy armor, such as the Himalayan highlands facing India, or the sub-tropical jungles facing Vietnam. The Type 15 light tank was developed precisely for this purpose in order to replace the Type-62 (not to be confused with the Soviet T-62), a 20-ton light tank armed with an 85mm gun produced from 1962 to 1989. over 1500 copies. Just entered service the Type 15 was very quickly deployed on the Ladakh plateau to demonstrate its effectiveness. It must be believed that the demonstration bore fruit, since the DRDO, the Indian armament agency, announced shortly after the development of a national light tank, the Zarowar, precisely for the same type of mission in the same theaters as the Type 15.

The Type 15 was deployed from 2019 to the Himalayan plateaus along the border line with India

9 meters long, 3.3 meters wide and 2,5 meters high, the Type 15, also designated VT-5 for export, is a 35-ton tank with reactive armor, which in its time could have classified it in the category of medium tanks, since close in its dimensions as in its mass to the AMX30 or the T-62. It is also armed with a high-pressure 105 mm rifled gun, like the French tank. However, the comparisons stop there with these tanks of the 60s. Indeed, the Type-15 is a perfectly modern armored vehicle, having all the technological achievements of the moment, with composite armor and reactive armor tiles , perfectly modern Vetronics and communication systems, stabilized sighting and an automatic loading system allowing a crew of 3 people. In addition, the armor could receive a hard-kill protection system in addition to these active protections (jammers, smoke and decoys). Above all, it is powered by a very powerful 8V132 engine developing 1000 hp, giving it an extraordinary power-to-weight ratio of 28 hp per tonne, and therefore remarkable mobility, including on unstable ground.

The Type 15 is offered for export under the destination VT-5 at a very attractive price of around $3 million per unit

The Chinese tank was designed not only to increase the firepower of Chinese units in difficult terrain, but also to be air-transportable Y-20 aircraft. If the PLA has not communicated, as usual, staffing objectives for this tank, it is likely that it will be called to be produced between 800 and 1000 copies to replace the Type 62, taking into account the contraction of the APL format following the reforms of the last two decades. It is also offered for export under the name VT-5, and has already been acquired by Bangladesh up to 44 copies. Due to its format, its efficiency and its estimated cost of $3 million per unit, it is likely to be called upon in the years to come to equip other armed forces, particularly in Africa, Asia and South America. South. However, as is often the case with Chinese equipment, it is advisable to wait for the tank to prove itself in the field before concluding on its effective effectiveness.

France: EBRC Jaguar

Heir to a long line of French wheeled light tanks and successor to the ERC-90 Sagaie and the AMX-10RC, the EBRC Jaguar is an original light tank in more ways than one. On the one hand, it is the only wheeled light tank of this panel with the Italian Centauro II, mounted on the same 6x6 chassis as the Griffon Multi-Role Armored Vehicle, of which it shares a large part of the DNA within of the Army's SCORPION program, aimed at modernizing the middle segment of its combat vehicles. It is also one of the lightest, with a combat mass of 25 tons, yielding in this field only to the Russian Sprut which, too, is a special case. Finally, it is the one that carries the lightest main armament, with a single 40mm CTA cannon supported by 2 MMP anti-tank missiles in the turret and a cupola armed with a 7,62mm machine gun. But what may initially appear as weaknesses, could well turn out to be significant assets from an operational point of view. Indeed, the 6x6 configuration associated with a 490 hp engine, a very versatile electro-pneumatic suspension and an axle weight of 8 tons, offer the armored vehicle exceptional mobility, including on the most unfavorable terrain.

The Jaguar crew consists of 3 members, 2 in turrets (commander and gunner) and one in the hull (driver)

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