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Subject: Is Russia’s T-95 the Best Tank in the World
Harold C. Hutchison    6/30/2004 9:15:33 PM

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which tank is the baddest of them all? This is a question that will touch off a major debate, particularly when one compares two tanks head-to-head. The latest such matchup is the 50-ton T-95, which is in development in Russia, versus the M1A2 Abrams, the front-line tank of the United States Army.

The T-95 is a new design. It will apparently carry a 152mm gun/missile launcher in a new turret designed to lower the silhouette even more than the current low slung T-72 series of tanks. The main gun will carry more of a punch than the 125mm gun used on current Russian tanks. This is a result of lessons learned from Desert Storm, when 125mm armor-piercing rounds bounced off M1A1 Abrams tanks, even when fired from as close as 400 meters. The other major advance will include systems designed to decoy anti-tank missiles (like the Hellfire, Javelin, and TOW). The goal is to jam the sighting systems and to confuse the aim. This also is intended to work against the sighting system for tank guns. Tanks often spend time fighting each other, and their sights work much like the sights used to target and guide anti-tank missiles. The real question is whether the T-95 will see production beyond a few prototypes. Its main competitor, the T-80UM2 “Black Eagle,” has the advantage of being cheaper and an upgrade of the T-80, which is currently in service. The T-95 will need time to have all the kinks worked out of its design. Much of that has already been done with the basic design of the T-80, and the “Black Eagle” will not need as much time to be ready for deployment. The T-95 has improved crew survivability over the T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks that the Russians currently use, but that is really not saying much, given the fact that the T-72 and its successors provided practically nothing in that area. 

That said, the Americans have not stood pat with the M1A1. The 69-ton M1A2 is nearing ten years old. Its major changes are not in terms of the weapons (it maintains the same weapons as the M1A1: a 120mm main gun, a 12.7mm gun for the commander, and two 7.62mm machine guns – one coaxial with the main gun, the other mounted on the loader’s hatch), but instead, the M1A2 is designed to exchange information with other vehicles faster through IVIS (Inter-Vehicle Information System). IVIS would allow a tank crew to find out what other tank crews are seeing, and to tell those other crews what they see, but troops have reportedly found it to be inconvenient. As a result, crews of the M1A2 will have a clearer picture of the battlefield than their opponents in other tanks when IVIS is used. That pays dividends. Having a good gun is nice, but you have to know where to point it. The American crews will know faster than their opponents due to IVIS. That means they are more likely to get in the first shot. The fire-control system remains perhaps the best in the world. When an Abrams fires at a target, it is probably going to hit the target. The results will usually be fatal to its target.

The technical specifications do not tell the whole story. The real difference is made in crew quality – and American tank crews have the decided edge over their counterparts in other countries. This is due to two factors: Combat experience in two wars since 1990, and much better training, most notably at the National Training Center. The former is arguably the best teacher in the world. It brutally shows what was done right and wrong, and grading is not on a curve. The latter is the toughest training regime in the world – often American combat veterans have compared fighting in Desert Storm or Iraqi Freedom to the NTC, with the caveat that the Iraqis weren’t as good as the OPFOR (the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment). Training at home bases (American tank crews fire about 100 rounds per year, in addition to demonstrations and NTC rotations) and the constant use of simulators add to the American edge in training.

The T-95, should it enter service, might have a better gun and could  exceed the M1A2's 429-kilometer range (Russian tanks usually have a  range of 550-650 kilometers when equipped with extra fuel tanks), but  the M1A2 is superior in most other aspects by which a tank is judged,  particularly in fire control, crew survivability, the IVIS system (when  used), and since it is already in service. It might cost $4.3 million per tank when compared to the $1.8 million Pakistan paid for each of the 320 T-80UDs Pakistan bought from the Ukraine, but the U.S. Army, in  battles like 73 Easting (where the M1A1HA-equipped Eagle Troop of the 2nd ACR under H.R. McMaster, with other units, defeated elements of the Tawakalna Division) during Desert Storm, has proven that the M1 series of tanks can win when badly outnumbered. The M1A2 still rules the battlefield, and will for the foreseeable future.

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mightypeon    RE:Is Russia�s T-95 the Best Tank in the World   9/9/2005 7:21:49 AM
Although I share some doubts about the T-95 (the desing looks quite feaible though), I have even stronger doubts about the M1A2 "ruling" the battle field. Yes, it does "rule" against woefully outdated, demoralized, ill maintanined T-72, but a T-90 would also rule here. The general military consensus seem to imply that the differences between the main westen MBT (Challenger 2, Leclerc, Leopard 2A5/6 M1A2) are very slim. Although I am not able to go into technical details(whihc have been datawashed quite a bit), the Leopard 2 A6 seems to have a distinct edge on the Abrams. Although it is bigger and therefore easier to spot, his other benefits seem to outweigh this. In the last years, several countries (Greece, Sweden, Swiss for example) updated their MBT forces. Each of this country tested a leopard Version, and each tested a Abrams version. In all of this countires, the Leopard 2 came out on top. Although all of this countries share some characteristc (Mountainous, Rivers, not Deserts)which may be detrimental to an M1A2, this seems to speak a pretty clear language. With regards Mightypeon
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Herc the Merc    RE:Is Russia’s T-95 the Best Tank in the World   9/9/2005 4:25:28 PM
Beyond 140mm, Tanks trade of big in other areas, plus M-1's will be replaced by 2012.
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X    X   10/29/2006 5:30:17 PM
No one knows much of anything about the T-95, but I am sure it can slug it out with the latest Weatern Main Battle Tanks.  It looks Impressive but who knows how good it is until it has been battle tested.  It is very clear to me it is over the 45 ton class from  Russias past, but we can only wait and see. I am curious.
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papahausser       11/19/2006 6:12:46 PM
Would be very interesting to wonder if US used T-90's and Iraqis M1's what results would be?  Probably the same given all the other things.  Unless we can have another Kursk to fight, always hard to compare due to so many other factors.
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world at war       1/17/2009 4:52:50 PM
america can kick russias ass any day
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russky       5/4/2009 6:19:40 AM
Go on)
But read the history first.
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GZZa       5/20/2009 6:12:43 AM
Strange that you all seem to think a brand new Russian tank will have a bigger gun but will not bother with improving situational awareness.
The Mi-28N attack helo will have a digital datalink sending target information back to HQ. Is it so hard to believe that the T-95 might be able to do the same thing? Comments I have read suggest the T-95 will be quite sophisticated with all three crew in the hull front with large LCD screens and hand and foot controls so that each position can be occupied by any crew member. One will be designated gunner, one driver, and one commander. It will be designed to operate 24/7 so for most of the time one will be napping and the other two will share the driver and commander roles. When in combat of course all three will work together.
With MMW radar, CM radar,Thermal, and IRST sensors it should be quite a capable vehicle. With a 152mm calibre gun its gun launched missiles could be fire and forget and be very capable weapons considering the technology for them is already quite mature.
I doubt it will be perfect but keep in mind that going back one generation the comparison of tanks between west and east was not as flattering as it is perceived to be now.
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onikenshin       6/28/2010 2:16:58 PM
yeah the m1 will be replaced in 2012 by the m1a3 abrams wich hopefully will have a slightly bigger gun and lighter armour that is as strong as it is now. the m1a2 defeats any known tank today with armour and firepower there really isnt need for an m1a3 yet but it would be nice.
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