In 1916 the first ever tank was used on the battlefield by the English Army against Germany during World War 1. The tank was designed to be a weapon capable of breaking the enemy trenches, crushing the barbed wire and making the crossing into No Man’s land, whilst destroying anything in the way. Whilst these tanks were incredibly dangerous, slow, cumbersome machines when they were used against other tanks, the tanks of today have undergone a total transformation and sport thicker, larger and more powerful engines. This in itself resulted in an arms race as each nation wanted to produce a better and more sophisticated model. The competition mainly took on changes to the tanks characteristics such as protection, mobility and the fire ability.
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Today’s tanks are far more complex weapons as a result of the high technology sensors and communication that they are equipped with. The tanks also sport advanced armour and major engine improvements. It is for these reasons that the tank has become such an integral part of the arms export market with the Americans and Russians amassing a combined income of $56 million from their dealings.
T-84 Oplot-M (Ukraine)
When the Soviet collapsed the tank factory in Kharlov was left to Ukraine, however as they wanted to develop their own tanks, the Ukraine started with modifications to the T-80 designs and this then became the T-84 Oplot-M which was most suitable for their needs. In the same way as the Soviet styled tanks this tank was armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun and also anti-tank missiles which are laser guided. With the assistance of a ballistics computer and thermal and panoramic imaging sights the gun can find and hit targets accurately and also has an autoloader that takes about 8 seconds per round has an advanced reactive armour and a countermeasure system.
Type 99 A2 (China)
Whilst the early Chinese tanks were inferior when compared to the American and Russian offerings their newer modified tanks show far superior levels of sophistication. The Type 99 is a really good example of the modern tanks and built by NORINCO, the tank came into service in 2001 and there was an even further advanced A2 deployed in 2009. This latest offering has more advanced armour that is complete with advanced explosive reactor armour modules, heavy battle management and digitized controls similar to those of the Russian tanks and they are also fully equipped with an active protection that can detect and defeat advancing missiles.
AMX-56 Leclerc (France)
The AMX – 56 Leclerc entered the French army in 1992, and there are still about 400 Leclerc tanks in service and a further 350 being used on the United Arab Emirates. The tank has an extremely fast autoloader that can load 12 rounds for the 120mm smooth bore gun in just a minute. The fire control system is completely digital and has the capability for the operator to pick six targets and the tank can then be engaged in under thirty seconds. The tank thermal sights and laser range finders and thermal can identify the enemy from more than 4km away and the armour on the latest models is complete with missile and laser warning, explosive reactive armour, infrared decoys, and tungsten/titanium modules.
Challenger 2 (Great Britain)
Apparently the British Challenger 2 is the most protected tank thanks to the Dorchester’ armour, which is a combination of ceramic and an array of other metals. The Challenger 2 came into service in 1998 and has an armour that is so strong that it has stood the test of time after having been bombarded by rocket propelled grenades when in combat in Iraq. Equipped with a 120mm rifle gun that provides a very high accuracy rate and also explosive reactive armour modules. The tank is also complete with an information system that is British made and fire control computer made in Canada that assists the crew so that they can use the gun and tank to the best possible advantage.
Leopard 2A7+ (Germany)
The Leopard 2A7+ entered German service in 1979, and it has been upgraded continually to provide what is now a really good all round weapon. The current Leopard 2A7+ is far superior to the original and is complete with 120mm smooth bore gun which can fire a number of different forms of ammunition which includes the LAHAT guided missile. The tank is capable of hitting a moving target of up to 5km thanks to the stabilization of the gun and the excellent laser range finder. The tank also has enhanced thermal and daylight sites plus combined information and command system.