Armor: September 18, 1999

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FRENCH ARMOR: The French military is planning to upgrade its Leclerc tanks by 2010 to keep them in service until 2025. The refit will cover protection, mobility, aggression, and command and control. Protection will include new armor that provides defense from all directions rather than just straight ahead, since an attack on a tank is now just as likely to be from the side, rear, or top as it is the front. Efforts will be made to reduce the sound, heat, and visual signatures, and counter-measures will be provided to make the vehicle harder to hit. The engine, transmission, and suspension may all undergo an upgrade. The cannon will be provided with new ammunition, including possibly a through-the-bore missile based on Russian technology. The new battlefield information system (similar to the digital "nintendo" systems being implemented by the US, Britain, and Germany) will be installed to provide greater battlefield awareness. The French are also planning to refit the battlefield information system to the AMX-10RC armored cars, and keep them in service until 2010. They are to be replaced by a fast wheeled vehicle mounting missiles (perhaps fiber-optic guided?) to destroy targets it cannot see. The French want a vehicle that is hard to see and harder to hit, since it cannot carry enough armor to survive a direct impact by a major-caliber weapon.--Stephen V Cole

BRITISH ARMOR: The British Army is embarked on a massive purchase of new light armored vehicles that few believe will be completed before financial reality sets in. Plans include 500 armored command vehicles to be bought from 2006, 300 Multi-Role Armored Vehicles to replace various support systems, 300 Tracer recon vehicles to be bought from 2007, 100 Terrier combat engineer vehicles to be bought from 2008, and 1000 Battle Group Vehicles to replace Warrior IFVs from 2012. There are no plans for heavy combat vehicles beyond the current buy of Challenger tanks and 100 new Combat Engineer Tanks to be bought from 2004.--Stephen V Cole

THE INDIAN ARMY is pushing hard for the "emergency" purchase of two hundred new T-90 tanks from Russia, despite the failure of the three prototypes to perform in hot Indian deserts.--Stephen V Cole

PAKISTAN is negotiating furiously with Ukraine to buy components of the T-84 to install in its locally designed and built Al Khalid tank. These will include the engine, cannon, and fire control. The Ukrainians are pushing the Pakistanis to buy their ammunition, but the Pakistanis want to produce this locally. Al Khalid weighs only 40 tons but has the same 1500hp engine as India's 55-ton Arjun. The Indian home-built Arjun is regarded as ineffective, since the engine (after losing 300hp to power the air conditioning system) loses power rapidly as the temperature rises, making the tank sluggish and easier to hit.--Stephen V Cole

 


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