Armor: October 20, 1999

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The US Army Tank Automotive Command has crafted a set of enhancements for the M1A2 tank designed to make it more effective and survivable. The main item of improvement is a new 50-power sighting system (using forward-looking infra-red radar) which can detect targets farther away and more quickly. The improved images will also allow the gunner and commander to more easily identify the targets, reducing friendly fire incidents. A new air conditioning system will keep the vehicle at 80 degrees in a 125 degree desert.--Stephen V Cole

Textron has produced a new Mark-II variant of its LAV-300 6x6 armored car and is pushing it at the export market (since there is little domestic US market for it). The LAV-300-II has several improvements over the Mark-I. It has a maximum speed of 105km/hr, and can travel at 3km/hr in the water propelled by its wheels. There is space for internal waterjets but these are not standard equipment. Fuel has been increased to 435 liters, boosting the range to 925km. For the basic (turretless version) three new hatches have been provided on top, one for the commander and two for the infantry squad in back. The Mark-II has a power-operated rear ramp with a built-in door. The Mark-I's individual troop seats have been replaced by benches. A new high-capacity air conditioner and a food warmer have been added. The Mark-II has a gross vehicle weight of 16,330kg (compared to 14,969kg on the Mark-I), but new suspension systems in development could allow this to reach 21,000kg. The armor is proof against 7.62mm rifle bullets the front armor is proof against armor-piercing 7.62mm rounds. The basic turretless version has a crew of three and nine dismount infantry. Various turrets can be added (cutting down on infantry seats), with the largest turret (mounting a 90mm gun) reducing the dismounted squad to five men. The usual variants (ambulance, command post, maintenance, supply, mortar, recovery, anti-tank) are available.--Stephen V Cole

Russia's Chrysanthemum (Khrizantema) ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) system is unique and has no Western equivalent. The missile can use two tracking modes (radar-guided or laser beam-riding), and a vehicle armed with it can fire two missiles at nearly the same time, each with a different tracking system. While the vehicle of choice is a BMP3, the Russians say they can mount it to virtually any armored personnel carrier. The system carries two missiles ready to fire with 13 more in a magazine bin under armor; these are mechanically reloaded as needed. Two types of missiles are available, both with a range of 6km. One is the 9M123, which has tandem shaped-charge warheads able to penetrate 1 meter (over three feet) of rolled homogenous armor protected by explosive reactive armor. The other missile is the 9M123F, which carries a fuel-air explosive warhead.--Stephen V Cole

 


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