Armor: December 17, 1999

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The Russian T-72 tank has a relatively conventional 850hp engine, but it has a unique transmission system. There are two separate planetary gearboxes (one for each track), each with seven forward and one reverse speeds. There is no clutch; to steer the tank, the driver simply shifts one gearbox to a lower speed. This is mechanically simpler and has a higher efficiency in transferring power. The problem is that this makes the tank very difficult to control in rough terrain, and only very skilled drivers can maintain the T-72's vaunted agility over broken ground. Later Russian tanks, including the Black Eagle, use the same system.--Stephen V Cole

Spain has ordered 22 Centauro armored cars from Italy, the first export order for the new vehicles. These will be assigned to the armored recon company of the Spanish Rapid Action Force.--Stephen V Cole

 


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