Armor: January 8, 2004


Nations with large armies and thousands of tanks, like India and China, have been studying how the United States Army has developed such an effective armored force. Their research revealed, as they feared, that the U.S. Army's edge was created with cash. Much money was spent on training. Each American tank fired about 130 rounds a year. That's some $20,000 right there (using the cheaper practice rounds). But the barrel on modern tanks is only good for about 500 rounds. Actually, that number keeps falling as higher velocity anti-tank shells are developed. The higher the velocity, the more wear and tear on the barrel. Some high performance shells will wear out a barrel after less than 300 firings. Replacing the gun barrel (the old one is refurbished), costs over $10,000. Nations like India and China (and Russia), have tanks that were not designed and built to ever have their barrels replaced. The crews simply didn't fire that many rounds just for practice. It was expected that the tank would have a long career and then be retired (to be melted down) without the barrel getting anywhere near it's firing limit. There would always be enough life left in the barrel for any combat. The Russians didn't expect most tanks to fire more than a hundred rounds in combat before it got destroyed or too badly damaged to continue. So many nations that bought, and used, Russian are discovering that quality crews are more important than anything else and that  that superior tank crews requires lots of sweat, and lots of cash. 




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