Altay, Black Panther, Oplot: What are modern battle tanks worth? 3/3

Article from September 15, 2021 updated on January 27, 2023.

It was said to be outdated or too vulnerable, yet the battle tank has experienced a remarkable resurgence of interest in recent years from the major world armies. After having presented the main Western, Russian and Chinese tanks in the two previous articles, we will, in this final analysis, focus on lesser-known models, and yet efficient and promising, on the operational scene as in the field of export. Now it's time for the South Korean K2 Black Panther, the Turkish Atlay, the Japanese Type 10 and the Ukrainian BM Oplot.

South Korea: K2 Black Panther

Considered by many specialists to be the most modern and attractive tank in the Western bloc, the K2 Black Panther has nevertheless had a difficult development, and some of its elements, in particular its transmission and its engine, are still being weakened. Development of the K2 began in 1995 to replace the obsolete M48 Patton tanks of the South Korean Armed Forces, and was based on an early locally designed tank model, the K1 88 developed on the basis of the Chrysler XM1, which was used base to the design of the American M1 Abrams. It is, along with the Japanese Type 10 and the Turkish Altay, one of the only Western tank models that is not an evolution of an older model, as in the case of the German Leopard 2A7 or Abrams M1A2C Americans. 10,8 meters long for a combat mass of 55 tons, the K2 is a rather light tank compared to its European or American counterparts.

Fast, agile and well protected, the K2 Black Panther South Korean is considered a very balanced and modern tank, capable of supporting all types of engagement of the moment.

Due to its recent invoice, the K2 has many perfectly modern technologies. First and foremost, its MIL-12560H composite armor gives it basic protection similar to that of other heavy tanks, albeit lighter. In addition, it carries a full panoply of complementary defensive systems, ranging from reactive armor bricks to locally made soft-kill and hard-kill systems natively integrated into the armor, and not added as with Western tanks. Its armament is also perfectly level, with a 120 mm CN08 smoothbore cannon and an automatic loading system making it possible to support a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute comparable to that of the French Leclerc, reference in the field. In addition to the traditional arrow shells, shaped charge or breaking, the gun can also fire a missile designated KSTAM with a range of 8 km, following a parabolic trajectory before deploying a parachute in order to locate its target with a mixed infrared and radar seeker. , and strike it from above, like the Franco-Swedish BONUS shells.

The 3-man crew has a state-of-the-art detection and sighting system, combining the traditional infrared electronic systems and the laser rangefinder with a very high frequency radar, allowing the tank to hang on targets up to 10 km, if a line of sight is available. Like the Leclerc, the K2 can thus fire with great precision on the move, while maintaining a high rate of fire. The system is designed so that the tank can remain operational with a crew of only 2 personnel, against 3 in normal staffing. On the other hand, the Black Panther encountered significant difficulties regarding the development of an engine and distribution of local invoice, obliging the first batch of 100 tanks to be equipped with an MTU MT-883 engine and a RENK transmission of German invoice, the second batch of 106 receiving a local Doosan DV27K engine but retaining the German distribution. Only the third batch of 54 units will be equipped with a full South Korean propulsion system, with a Doosan DV27K transmission and Doosan engine. This defect did not seem to be prohibitive on the international scene, since Poland ordered more than 1000 of these tanks a few months ago, alongside K9 self-propelled guns and K239 multiple rocket launchers, with significant industrial and technology transfer. Barely 3 months after the order was signed, the first K2s intended for the Polish forces were delivered, while a second batch will arrive in February in Warsaw. The South Korean industrial potential, in the current context following the m-runaway of tensions after the Russian attack on Ukraine, constitutes today, alongside the undeniable qualities of the Black Panther, a remarkable asset for this model. , including in Europe.

Japan: Type 10

Due to its low international exposure, and in particular its absence from international competitions, the Japanese production of armored vehicles is most often ignored by a large part of the public. However, Japanese companies have produced, over the last few decades, many models of high-performance armored vehicles, including battle tanks. Entering service from 2012, the Type battle tank is one of them, and the lightest of the Western battle tanks. With a combat weight of less than 48 tons, the Type 10 was above all to support the Type 90 already in service while being 10 tons lighter than the latter, and offering superior operational performance. The bet was succeeded by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, which developed the Type 10, and succeeded in giving the armored vehicle protection and firepower at least as effective as those of its predecessor, while providing it with considerably increased mobility thanks to a power-to-weight ratio of 27,7 hp per ton. This low mass also allows the tank to travel 650 km on the only 880 liters of its internal tank, a record in this area.

Thanks to its small dimensions, its reduced mass and its adaptive suspension, the Type 10 offers the Japanese armies an armored vehicle perfectly adapted to their needs as well as to their geography.

The rest of this article is for subscribers only -

The articles in full access are accessible in the section "Free Items". The Flash Articles are accessible in full version for 48 hours. Subscribers have access to the full Analysis, News and Synthesis articles. Articles in the Archives (more than 2 years old) are reserved for Premium subscribers.

The purchase of subscriptions is only accessible from the website - section Subscriptions and Tools

More information