US Army heralds the death of the tank : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Too bad our enemies won't be following suit...,,37209,00.html

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17 2000 US Army heralds the death of the tank BY MICHAEL EVANS, DEFENCE EDITOR THE United States Army is to signal the beginning of the end of the tank with an announcement soon that its future armoured units will be equipped with lighter, wheeled vehicles more suited to peace support operations. Although the decision will not yet kill off the tank, which made its debut in 1916 during the First World War, the American proposal could spark new thinking across Nato, which has about eight different types of battle tank.

The rethink on the role of the tank was demanded as a result of the increasing call on US troops to be deployed at short notice. For last year’s Kosovo operation the Americans sent their 70-tonne M1A2 Abrams tanks to Albania as a protective force for Apache helicopters but they had to be flown one at a time on US Air Force C17 transport aircraft.

Now, after a review of the US Army’s role in the world, there is expected to be a radical change under which the main battle tank will take a back seat and a new-look armoured machine will be purchased that can be transported rapidly in a range of aircraft.

According to The Washington Post yesterday a new “medium armoured vehicle” will form the centrepiece of the US Army’s attempt finally to close the door on the Cold War and to develop rapidly deployable armoured units. The newspaper, quoting senior military officials, said the decision to go for a wheeled and armoured vehicle instead of the tracked main battle tank for its newest units was seen as an historic step comparable to the advent of the battleship and the machinegun, which both transformed warfare in their time.

The new strategy would require changes in the way the US Army trained, deployed and fought, the US officials said, although the heavy tanks would be kept for the foreseeable future to deal with conflicts such as the Gulf War, when the US-led coalition confronted Russian-made T72 tanks.

The US Army hoped to develop a wheeled vehicle armoured with ceramics and equipped with an electric gun by about 2010.

The British Army is also looking at ways of introducing a new form of armoured vehicle that would fit in with the latest concept of forces that “go first, go fast and go home”. For every recent operation requiring armour, such as the Gulf War in 1991, Bosnia in the mid-1990s and Kosovo last year, Britain had to send tanks by sea.

There is no current requirement for tanks to be sent by air and the proposed RAF transport aircraft for the future, the Airbus A400M, will not be capable of carrying a vehicle as heavy as a tank.

The British Army is also studying a future medium-weight force that would come halfway between the Challenger tank and the Land Rover and could be transported by the existing C130 Hercules aircraft. An interim report is due early next year.

The British fielded the first tanks during the battle of the Somme on September 15, 1916. Of 59 tanks available, only 49 were serviceable and 17 broke down on their way to battle.

-- Hacker2 (H2@more.of.Klintons.legacy), November 18, 2000



This is not more of Clinton's legacy. The guy in charge of this policy change is a long time Army regular, who rose to the position of the CIC of the Army, his name escapes me right now, Japanese- American guy who fought in Nam and lost a foot there. The idea for a rapidly deployable medium armored force was born in response to what happened in the first weeks of Desert Shield, the holding action that preceded Desert Storm. Our guys over there facing down Saddam were equipped with little more than mortars and M-16s until the heavy forces could arrive. If Saddam had moved against us then we would have been dead meat. It takes a long time to transport heavy armor, this new policy seeks to balance the conflicts between rapid movement and armor protection, afterall, if you look to recent history before Desert Storm there have not been massive battles between armored forces since WWII. Most of the recent actions by US forces have been of a peacekeeping or rapid deployment role, a role that most decidedly does NOT call for battalions of M1A1 tanks.

Not to say that this new policy of lighter and faster armor isn't without controversy. Many in the service are afraid that if you build a medium armored force more suited to urban peacekeeping the temptation to put it to use will increase. And also, the heavy armor guys are NOT going to let their main battle tanks be turned into plowshares without a fight. The main battle tank still has it's place in the arsenal.

Stay tuned.

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 18, 2000.

Thanks, Unc. As always, your insights are appreciated. I'll do some more research on the subject

-- Hacker2 (H2@no.more.of.Klinton's.legacy), November 18, 2000.

Peace Support Operations?

-- k (k@k.k), November 18, 2000.

Another problem is that tanks are getting too easy to kill. In the usual escalation between offense and defense, tanks have become multi-million dollar vehicles, but they can be killed by hundred-thousand dollar missiles equipped with expended uranium warheads.

I understand that the armor on the most recent tanks is now designed to explode when a missile warhead hits, in such a way as to counteract the penetration by the missile, while preserving the interior of the tank. Trouble is, this technology is even more expensive and very tricky to implement correctly. So, the defense has the upper hand over tanks for the foreseeable future.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, November 18, 2000.


You are referring to "reactive armor" which, as you said, explodes when hit by the incoming warhead thus destroying that warhead. Reactive armor is not a huge expense, but new missile and warhead technology has to a great extent rendered reactive armor less effective by employing a sort of dual warhead. The first part of the new type warhead detonates the reactive armor while the follow up part goes through and kills the tank.

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 18, 2000.

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