The Great Indian Tank Design Challenge - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 8 January 2012

The Great Indian Tank Design Challenge

Translate your views into a blueprint for India's Future Main Battle Tank. Join hands in designing the Broadsword Mark I

Since so many enlightened visitors to this blog have published so many responses to the articles that I posted on the FMBT, let us harness some of this expertise into a tank design for India. That is something that the Indian Army has not been able to finalise so far!

Please don't do what the army does: which is to cut-and-past a bunch of specifications --- 120 mm smoothbore gun; active armour; ATGM, etc --- and imagine that you've produced the blueprint for a tank.

Instead, start by analysing how the Indian Army would use its tanks in a war with a likely adversary. What would be India's operational objectives, and what kind of tank would be best suited for fulfilling those aims. For example, the Israelis realised that they might need infantry along with their Merkavas to mop up opposition... and that a heavy, lumbering tank was okay because no deep advances were envisaged... etc.

So, unlike the Indian Army, start by thinking through how the FMBT would be used. Given India's geo-political situation and the strategic dynamics of the region, what would be the military's operational objectives in a war. Then deduce the likely mission profiles; then arrive at the systems needed to achieve those.

All this in 250 words.

Criticism comes cheap. Now put your design hats on and come up with something useful.


  1. Hey Mr. Shukla I didn't read the comments on the FMBT article, but don't waste your time on being offended by those guys. They're called trolls for a reason!

  2. There is a great deal to learn from US experiences in Irag and Afganistan. In todays world, in addition to jungles and deserts Tanks needs to be adapted to fight in the urban environment. Tanks needs to deal with IEDs and rocket propelled grenades but with stealth, accuracy and safety of it occupants. the armour of the tank should be multi tiered to deal with different types of threat. Should have combinations of passive armours like Composite Armour, Depleted Uranium, Mesh Armour along with Active armours like ERA. Similarly the protection system should be multi tiered as well. CIWS concepts should be employed along with Jammers and smoke grenade launchers. As seen in Iraq, militants tries to snipe the commander and hence I propose that the commander must sit on a bullet proof cupola cum turrent that would house a mini gun. Another remote control cupola should have a 20mm gatling/chain gun to deal with light armour. The tank should also be able to launch sr sams to deal with choppers and missiles to defeat enemy armour. I propose a 1800 hp engine with a electic drive system with reserve battery. The tank should be able to drive on battery power for atleast 20 kms and/or operate all weapon systems for more than 12 hrs without starting the main engines, this would also eliminate the requirement of aux engines. The tank should employ an unique exhaust system where in hot air would be passed through a tank of cold water and then force fed with ambient air to reduce thermal signature. I would recommend a radiator having pipes run all along the body( internal ) that would absorb the body heat. The radiator coolent could be the diesel used in the tank, and it would be safe since diesel has a very high flash point. In fact the heated diesel could help in engine efficiency. The tank should be able to data link with Remote Sensing Satellites, Communication Satellites, UAVs, Choppers and other tanks. Buddy UAVs should help tank commanders point out enemy locations in a full scale war. In case of urban warfare, commandoes should be able to relay accurate information with the help of encrypted multi channel data link. The tank should be able to use GPS/GLONASS/GAGAN. It should be a drive by wire system which will help in higher automation and reduce workload. Crew comfort should be increased and air conditioner should be added. I can't imagine people taking sane dicision in 50 Degrees.

  3. i think we need two types of tank design.
    1> A light tank with focus on firepower and mobility with less focus on armour protection. This tank should be Ilyushin Il-76 transport capable.
    2>A heavy tank with focus on firepower and protection.

    >> both these tanks should have commonality of parts and ammunition.Both of these tanks should be NBC capable.both of these tanks should have all the modern electronic and imaging gizmos.

  4. before we design a tank to fight the enemies lets fight the corrupt congress govt and get rid of it, join Anna's moment and free our country from the hands of italian mafia. we cannot go to war or design any weapons with corrupt leaders pulling the strings.

  5. 1. mobility..engine with high torque to handle the knuckle ends.wieght less than 50 tonnes for railand bridges.
    2. firepower ..smooth bore for barrel launched missile at least five per tank. mix of high explosive and antitank.coaxial gun for close support.smoke generators.
    3. armour .. era plus composite ceramic.silloute to match t90/t72.
    4. thermal sight and ballistic computer ..indeginious. communication if possible data transmission for battlefield target management.
    6. develop simulators for the entire crew as such..form initial stage.

  6. requirement for india.
    used for stike offensive operation at adepth of 300 km .
    mobilty from base to forward area by rail .
    terrain will be desert and boggy fields of punjab.
    weight restiction for obstacle crossing more than 50 metres.
    less bulky so that if required can be loaded on for a RORO roll on roll off ..force projection.

  7. is this some kindaa design a tank u need to know the terrain, u need to know the basic equation of weight and power and most of all the efficiency of available subsystems, for tat matter I don't know how thick armour would I need if my tank has an active armour in place and how much tat tat wud weigh, I don't have any idea abotu the weight of the engine and I suppose no one which "may" include you, has the current and future logistical abilities of Indian army...but considering India's cold start doctrine and the desert in general (I never even walked in a desert) and plains in Punjab (where operations in monssons might be a trouble)I will put my money in a tank tat's light and powerful enough to deal with both sand and mud. Considering nuclear overhang I don't expect tanks to go beyond 20 Kms inside enemy territory. due to availability of active armour I will reduce the weight of ERA and instead of metal tanks for extra fuel, I will put something more safe and more modern in place. I have no knowledge abt ammo but I feel tanks regiments will move with Akash, LCH and IAF cover which will further reduce its dependence on ERA. Tanks in future will only play the role of ground dominance...I suppose..air support will pave the way for it to move swiftly..

  8. 1. Heavy Emphasis on Modular Design. Able to field build tanks. i.e Field dis-assemble and assemble. Would reduce huge logistics headaches, given that we have two fronts and high altitude and mountain battlefields.

    Imagine able to field assemble a tank in couple of hours and bits and pieces arriving through air in C-17, C-130, IL-76 and An-32!

    2. efficient use of armor by reducing the numbers required for a ops and heavily integrated to a theater network. Example: tanks able to know location of enemy choppers/ air power by linking to theater network. Able to delegate targets to support units like artillery, rocket units and air. By heavy integration will allow for less number of tanks for a op.

    3. ammunition that allow tanks to be used as a secondary artillery. Ofcourse the barrel cannot be 155mm, however special ammo could be developed.

    4. designing the tanks for holding troops is not such a bad idea for IA, given that we are not a fully mechanized army.

    5. Highly efficient engines/ alternate fuel engine for large endurance. Something like 2000KM/3000KM endurance without refueling. No need to depend on the fuel tanks.

    6. compact rounds to increase the number of rounds that can be carried.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. heh heh heh !

    A 'tank- battle' with a retired Colonel, who was himself a tank-man with the Indian Army !

    I can expect some fireworks now :-)

    Col. Shukla, must be readying his club with a grin on his face, all prepared to throw out the paper soldiers out of the park!

    But on a serious note, Why not forget MBTs all together and focus on the following:

    1) LCH & UAVs for anti armour and anti personnel

    2) Light tanks and IFVs for quick deployment and holding territory roles!

    Assumption: Since quick/surprise deployment, superior firepower and thrust is going to be the key, esp in a Cold-Start kind of scenario.

    Also, even in case of a China threat, this would be better placed than our current and planed heavy MBTs!

  10. good post Sir,

    here is contribution from my side i made it in 2008 Arjun MK-III

  11. I have the best tank design in the world that will 100% satisfy our army and the corrupt ministers that make money on the corrupt arms deals.

    1) The tank must have dual mode. In mode A it should move on the ground with zero noise and should weigh just 10 tonnes. It's silhouette should be so low that it should be invisible from more than 3 meters away. In mode B it should be able to hover like a chopper and be stealthy while being capable of carrying AAMs and ATGMs.

    2) It should have high energy beam weapons that can destroy enemy ships at 500 KMs, tanks at 300 KMs and choppers at 100 KMs.

    3) It should be capable of firing Agni 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10 missiles along with Brahmos, Klub and Trident ICBM. If possible, it should have S-300 missile launch capabilities but that is not strictly needed.

    4) There is no need for air conditioners or heaters in the tank. Our soldiers are cheap and can be replaced easily.

    5) It should be able to withstand the IEDs used by LTTE or Taliban. If possible it should be able to protect from direct nuclear hit from 10 Megaton h-bomb.

    6) As far as possible the sub-components of the tank must be imported from Russia and Israel. Each sub component must be at least 3x more expensive than the tank itself.

    1. Agree....also a nuclear propulsion shud be added for unlimited ranges and in desperate timea it can also be uaed as a mobile suicide atomic tank. I highly recommend to add a third mode like mode C wherein its also capable of travelling underwater so that it can be launch a sneaky attack on karachi harbour and blockade pak and chinese ports. This way our nation can save more by cutting out naval ships and building more such tanks.

      I also highly recommend a mini bar inside the tank.

  12. Indian army is looking for a lighter yet better protected MBT, here is what i proposed:

    1. Fire Power: Unmanned turret (120mm with Auto-loader, 1 x 7.62mm mg, 1 x 12.7mm Hmg in RCWS )with capability of using LAHAT, The turret can be covered with light or heavy era..

    2. 5-6 wheel Chassis with addon Armour at sides, Rear and front, with addition of ERA tiles above addons, This gives a heavily protected chassis, But if weight issue is there in certain conditions, Ad-dons can be removed.

    3. 1500hp engine and transmission to power the vehicle.

    Three Men crew, Commander ( Radio, BMS, Command, RCWS ) Gunner for 120mm gun and 7.62mm MG, Driver, All in heavy armored chassis..

    Kunal Biswas

  13. you simply buy the leopard 2 and you have a world-class tank

  14. Should have atleast closed this off to anonymous posters like me who will spam...someone mentioned light for the plains in mud..i suppose he meant lower ground pressure!!

    a few intel reports on enemy strengths would be good to help us :P

  15. Tank: Broadsword Mk-I

    Operational Objectives:
    - Spearhead armoured thrust into enemy territory. (only in plains i.e western sector and tibetan plateau)
    - Column protection.
    - Hold roads and installations.

    Mission profiles:
    - Blitzkreig offensive.
    - Terrorize hostile civilian population.
    - Give a sense of superiority to own population.

    Tank Capabilities:
    - Light weight (for air-drop near theatre of operations)
    - Fast mobility (cover long distances in shortest time)
    - Excellent targeting ability while in high speed motion.
    - Easy of operations.
    - Easy of maintanence.
    - Basic protection against RPG and HMG fire.
    - 2 person crew (pilot + co-pilot)
    - NBC safe operating environment (N=Radiation proof,not blast proof)
    - Fuel cell based engine.

    Sensors Capabilities:
    - Mine and IED detection.
    - auto navigation.
    - mini quadrotor Drone UAV launch for over-the-hill snooping.
    - night, thermal vision.
    - remote controlled operation. (unmanned ground combat vehicle)

    Weapons capability:
    - EM Rail gun technology based main gun (for silent firing)
    - laser weapon for air-defence
    - VSHORAD for anti-air defence. (optional)
    - secondary mini EM Gun (automatic operation)

  16. Hmm. Let me put my thinking hat on. The battlefield that India is going to face in the in it's immediate vicinity is going to be over a nuke overhang (both Pak and China), and any conflict is going to be 1) Localized, and 2) High intensity and 3)Relatively short duration before the politicos and world powers step in to make sure that it does not go into the nuke threshold.

    No more big 1000 tank armies on each slide slugging it out with maneuver warfare like say Kursk or Battle of Bulge etc. Sorry Shukla, I know that is the ultimate dream of a tank commander to lead an armor thrust and outrun and outflank the enemy with fast moving columns etc, but that is not going to happen. It is going to be limited excursions into prepared and reasonably defended territories, high intensity fire fights and threats being non conventional (like IEDs /asymmetrical to deny mobility) in addition to regular formations.

    So there you are.

    From that, this light tank business is seriously flawed. In the triumvirate of Protection, Mobility and Firepower, what you need to trade a little in the balance is a bit of mobility in favor of protection and firepower.

    To crush all opposing fire, 1) You need a larger barrel (L55) like the one on the Leopard for the same 120mm ammo. The current Arjun Gandiv should be upgraded, rather than an ab initio smooth bore design and 2) More modular armor and protection, especially on the underside (against IEDs and mines), active defenses, armor on top and more all round protection, giving it staying power and ability to absorb hits which are inevitable in a high intensity battle 3) Integrated battle management/networked warfare ability, including ability to hand off targets to other tanks in formation to shoot at to better exploit tactical situations.

    And oh, yeah, drop that light tank nonsense like a piece of t*rd. It will be crushed and have no chance of survival in a high intensity battle . The way forward is heavies, which will be around 60 to 65 tons (like Arjun 2) and similar maneuvreability.

    Folks trading protection for maneuverability and size are fighting yesterday's war I am afraid.

    As for Tibet/Ladhak, you are far better betting on air to ground and use of terrain and geography using light units than serious tank warfare scenarios.

  17. Colonel Shukla & others,

    While I don't know much about tanks and so wouldn't venture a guess about an MBT tank, I am curious about the need for an air-transportable MBT.

    By definition, an MBT is a mainstay of the armored corps, so it should be geared towards fulfilling its primary role, not a niche role. Except in urban warfare, tanks are best used in troops or squadrons and not individually. So if the primary design criterion is air-transportability, then we must have the ability to sanitize the air-space for an extended period of time to drop a number of tanks. Then we must have the ability to supply fuel and ammo on a continuous basis and undertake field repairs/recovery. If we had such dominance in a combat situation, wouldn't it be more prudent to air-drop infantry to mop up the remains? So I think that except for niche situations (facing an enemy that cannot threaten the air-head) air-transportability should not be the primary concern. For that, a secondary light tank (not an MBT)in fewer numbers will suffice.

    The MBT's primary features should be crew protection and fatigue reduction, accurate and long range firing even at night, excellent communications, fuel economy and ease of field repair. All these will add to sustaining the momentum of an armored thrust, which will create a decisive outcome. Clearly, the weight will affect both crew protection and fuel economy, so a trade-off is inevitable. Perhaps extensive use of ERA on as needed basis with a lower base armor to keep the weight down might be considered? The idea of a dual mode engine seems very useful in this context.

  18. My specifications for a tank shall include:

    • Have both passive and active armor protection (importantly depending on the enemy’s present and future capabilities)
    • Should be less than 50 tons capable of transported through rail and air. Must only move on its own from forward bases only not from its defensive/resting bases
    • Battle field awareness using network centric encrypted communication with peer tanks, aerial assets and ground troops
    • Capability to fire all types of conventional ammunitions, in addition, to accurately fire short range conventional missiles (range of 10 to 30 kilometers)
    • Separate ammunition silos for crew as well as peer assets protection when shot at/destroyed
    • Operational range should not exceed 1000 kilometers in order to carry additional fire-power and necessary protection to operating crew with refueling, so no external fuel tanks
    • Capability to fire all ammunitions on the move

  19. Retire to the deep forest or high mountains, offer pennances and recieve Brahmastra from Brahma himself. End of allsecurity problems.

  20. My Specs for FMBT 2020:

    Weight: <50 Tonnes

    Road Wheel Set: 6 Sets

    Engine: 1500 bhp. Frontally located aka Merkava.

    APU: 200 kW Gas Turbine for silent operations.

    Crew: 2 (Driver + Commander (who would also be a gunner) Both in Hull.

    Armor: Cobham type (steel with composite sandwich) with spaced DU plates. Switchable double layer ERA (to be activated based on tactical situation). Armored deep side skirts.

    Protection: Laser based IR jammer + Hardkill Projectile systems for RPG, Anti-tank Rounds. Halon Fire suppression.

    Camouflage: Barracuda cover fior IR suppression.

    Armament: 120mm Smoothbore L44 Gun (shorter length advantage in Urban environment) - elevation -10 deg to +75 deg (direct +indirect fire) + coaxial 20mm Canon
    12.7mm/7.62mm & 40mm grenade launcer in RCWS

    Ammo: 40 rounds mix of APFSDS, HEAT, HESH, Anti-personnel, Missile. All rounds in Auto-loader in turret with blow doors.

    Sensors: Thermal Camera -Range 10 Km. IR Camera - Range 10 km. Optical Camera - Range 10 km. GPS/GLONASS/GAGAN based tactical system. RF Mesh network for better communication.

    Crew Comfort: Seperate armored crew chamber in hull. Ejectable in case of emergency. Air conditioned.

    Internal Fuel Range: 500kms Min.

  21. Dear Colonel,

    Have a look at the Borders of India
    Bangladesh 4,053 km (No Tanks)
    Bhutan 605 km (No Tanks)
    Burma 1,463 km (No Tanks)
    China 3,380 km (No Tanks)
    Nepal 1,690 km ( Very limited application)
    Pakistan 2,912 km (applicable south of Jammu till Bhauj in Gujrat say about 2020km)
    Border areas opposite Jammu (IB portions) and Punjab have been rendered untankable by obstacles and built up araes on both sides besides being untankable in rainy season.
    Hence 763 km length is you can say semi tankable.
    Opposite a half of Rajasthan say 500 km in the north, tanks can barely go upto 20 km.
    Same is the terrain conditions opposite rest of Rajstan and Gujrat.
    Both sides of the borders are heavily guarded and have dense anti tank military opposition.
    Above all, all areas are astride the settled IB. Neither Pakistan nor India would unsettle it.
    Use of tanks would necessarily be under nuclear hang and hence less likely.

    In nutshell heavy or medium tanks are primarily Pakistan specific and must remain focused on Pakistan amour rather than on the world or any other border areas. At present what ever India has is sufficient to cater for "Need Pakistan" and bogey of tanks being raised is pseudo. Arjun Mark II will be sufficient till Pakistani armour profile changes.

    India now needs a tank which can be employed in:
    Riverine terrain.
    Jungles of middle India Jharkhand / Chattisgarh.
    UN missions and out of Area contingencies.
    Amphibious operations.
    Urban areas.

    What kind of anti tank environments exist in those areas and under those contingencies?
    Many here are designing a tank to fight a NATO war in Europe or for the Western Russia ?? How useful the heavy tanks been in fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    We need now a 30 ton light tank (call it infantry tank) capable of carrying troops in large numbers to meet our above requirement. In that following should be order of priority:
    Fire power, then
    Mobility, and then
    Amour protection
    It can not and should not something like a BMP but like Stryker.
    India otherwise has sufficient tanks of required quality.
    This tank-man's bogey is false and self serving. Tank philosophy, Mission profiles, operations planned and envisaged in India and Pakistan are exaggerated and impractical.

  22. Well i'll be frank!!! its time to have stuff like terminator or avatar robot. A super replacement to tanks.
    Tanks are killing machine...but almost all tanks can be taken out.. and this will continue........

    So let the smart head works on design which should be mind boggling...

  23. @Anon 11 January 2012 10:30,

    Your comments about most of the border areas is "non-tank" Territory does not hold water.

    Are you saying IA captured East Pak, without using a single tank!

    Personally, I feel there is nothing called "non-tank area". It is a matter of simple common sense and using some brains. If your adversery thinks a area is "non-tank", I will put armor right there.

    Remember 1947, tanks on the Kashmir mountains!

  24. I think that the time of a Tank as a War Machine is comming to an end. It is mindless to invest in Tanks buildup though the technologies could be spinned off to other battlefield platforms. Helis like the Apache has shown that one who controls the air controls even the battle field. In the context of a "Tankable" battlefield, the coloumn thrust could be sustained by self propelled, towed artillery and air support. Thats were we should focus. I propose more emphasis on Attack Helis, IFV, Tactical Battlefield Missiles and mobile Artillery. I think there is a huge investment done in Tank Infra and this inertia would be hard to let do with.

  25. Crew -
    Main Gunner
    Commander(AA Gun)
    Auxillary Gunner(HMG)

    Physical Features -
    65 tons max weight
    Arjun like wheels for smoother ride
    hydro neumatic suspension
    50 mph
    detachable, semi mobile external fuel tank

    Defense -
    Explosive Reactive Armor
    Active armor (when avaialable)
    Smoke Screen capability
    Additional Detachable Modular Armor
    Detachable Mine Plough
    crew capsule
    seperate ammunition chamber - capacity -> 33 tank shells, 6 Anti tank, 1 Anti Helecopter (or surface to Air stinger) missile, HMG + AA ammunition

    Capabilities -
    One Rechargable Battery capable of powering the Tank Computers for upto 12 hours and capable of aiming(only aiming) the main gun. (This will help tank to stay camouflaged under some covering and aim for an accurate first shot when defensive.
    2 Engines(total 1800-2000 hp) -
    (1)600-800 hp - capable of helping the tank to perform ALL operations and able to power the tank upto 5 or 10 mph
    (2) Additional 1200-1000 hp battery to provide thrust to power the tank upto top speed.
    Capable of lock and forget for multiple target - Once locked, the mission computer loads, aims and fires the main gun both static as well as while moving
    Night Vision
    Infra Red Vision
    Netcentric warfare capable
    Auto loading system enabling tank to fire 3 rounds per minute.
    Gun(Turret) Stabiliser (accurate aim while moving)

    offense -
    120 mm Main Gun capable of firing ->
    (1) Tank Shells
    (2) Anti - Tank Missile
    (3)Anti Helecopter(or surface to air Stinger) Missile
    1 Anti Aircraft Gun
    1 Heavy Machine Gun
    ability to launch (& communicate) upto 3 non recoverable(disposable) low endurance "micro" uav - close range instant recon
    ability to launch 1 recoverable medium endurance micro uav - medium range constant recon

  26. @Annon 11 January 2012 15:25

    Sorry if I hurt a tankmans sentiments but then you do not seems to know the operational meaning and role of tank.

    Bangladesh 1971, a few tanks and PT-76. But were they battle winners? Were they utilized as spearheads for a blitzkirg.

    Tank at Zoji La !! One knocked down tank of 7 CAV was photographed after the battle was over. Was that tank the battle winning factor?

    Tanks in SL (kept in garage except for one and that too ... untold story)..

    In fact you are supporting my argument to say that we need a tank which can be utilized in areas and conditions other than Pakistan so that these become battle winners and not show pieces to be kept there only for its life due to problems of movement and weight.

    By the way the days of tank ground cavalry are over like those of horses. The days of air Cavalry are very much in.

  27. @Annon 11 January 2012 15:25

    you said:

    Your comments about most of the border areas is "non-tank" Territory does not hold water.

    Ha Ha..
    Most of those hold lots of water in all forms that is why those are non tankable.

  28. India Should develop very light weight tanks perhaps 15-20 tons with just 1-2 operators..or it could be remote controlled with even lighter weight....should be able to carry and delivery 15-20 shells and 20-30 rockets...even if these are destroyed we are at no loss. and these small tanks could be operated by 4 people from Arjun or heavier tanks which cannot enter urban landscape...heavy artillary can be provided by Arjun. Infantry would also accompany the tanks so lights tanks makes more sense for close supports to troops and provide cover. For heavier platform Arujun should be kept on development with new versions coming out every 3-5 years.

  29. India Should develop very light weight tanks perhaps 15-20 tons with just 1-2 operators..or it could be remote controlled with even lighter weight....should be able to carry and delivery 15-20 shells and 20-30 rockets...even if these are destroyed we are at no loss. and these small tanks could be operated by 4 people from Arjun or heavier tanks which cannot enter urban landscape...heavy artillary can be provided by Arjun. Infantry would also accompany the tanks so lights tanks makes more sense for close supports to troops and provide cover. For heavier platform Arujun should be kept on development with new versions coming out every 3-5 years.

  30. Modern day Battle Field is not the same as of yester years. Please consider the following:-

    (a) Any object that moves can be detected
    (b) Any objected that is detected can be identified with reasonable amount of accuracy
    (c) Any object that is identified can be destroyed with a first shot kill probability nearing 100%
    (d) The most sophisticated tank with all kinds of armour protection can be defeated by a two man team equipped with a tandem warhead attacking from close range.
    I think we have seen last of these white elephants (Tanks). Like dinosaurs who buckled under their own weight and became extinct, Tanks will also meet the same fate and for the same reason. I agree with Flankers views. To his views I would like to add the ultimate irony - Armour without Infantry protection is good for nothing (not my words. Instead of designing a modern tank let us redesign our soldier!

  31. GhorcharrahGabbar13 January 2012 at 09:10

    [...contd from the previous posting...]

    By way of qualitative nature of envisaged opposition, mechanised operations on the Sub-Continent in the next 15 years will face evolutionary derivatives of
    contemporary Chinese armour. The Pak Al-Khalid or the BD Type 59G/Type-69 Mark 2G or other equivalent armoured vehicles of contemporary Chinese origin are
    unlikely to exceed the current state-of-the-art Chinese the ZT99 MBT in the next 15 years. This restriction is postulated based on purely economic grounds as the tank fleets of the countries concerned are currently under refurbishment/replacement; the next such large-scale effort is very unlikely till 2030. Qualitative improvements are likely to be restricted to ammunition and FCS technologies only, based on present-day platforms. However, it is a pertinent fact that the present-day ballistic protection of the T-72M1 is deemed to be vulnerable to existing 125mm KE ammunition of Chinese-origin in use with Pak & BD; the Pak DU round (Niaza) claims a penetration of 550mm RHA at 2000m. The Sub-Continent will, instead, see a proliferation of guided/intelligent/autonomous anti-tank weapons that will assure
    over 90% kill probability. Employment of armour in close country, including urban combat, will necessitate 360-degree (including top-dome) protection against hand-held anti-tank weapons of increasing potency. The nature of unconventional/asymmetric operations accord considerable local advantages to a dismounted / unprotected enemy who can immobilize / destroy a seemingly well-protected tank by sheer numbers as in 'swarm tactics' wherein RPGs fired in salvo can overwhelm most of the current Active Protection systems. Similarly the firepower of the tanks employed in close country, especially urban terrain, will necessitate short-range, surgical engagement of targets with minimal collateral damage.

    I know it's a bit of a hotch-potch up there but I could not wait to get off the blocks - will appreciate additional inputs to flesh out the 'future threat' scenario vis.a.vis the FMBT.

  32. GhorcharrahGabbar13 January 2012 at 20:29

    This was my first posting... which is missing. The continuation has, however, found its way to display...

    I think this is a great opportunity and forum for us to put our heads together and scratch out a Statement of Requirements that may help the powers that be in formalising QR.

    Going sequentially by Broadsword's solicitations, my assessment & analysis of the threats that the FMBT would have to contend with in the thirty years of its intended

    service life i.e 2020-50,involves a fair degree of rational guesstimation & conjecture which I will base on the contemporary roles and employment of the T-72M1 / T-90S equipped formations partaking due 'back-to-the-future' liberties. I apologise in advance for certain generalities as the mention of specifics carry security implications.

    The primary role of armour will remain - to engage and destroy enemy armour through the offensive use of firepower, mobility and the consequent shock action. Its
    secondary roles will continue to include the use of direct fire for precision engagement and destruction of static/slow-moving point-targets on the ground as well as at low aerial altitude, as well as weapon emplacements and personnel protected therein, or out in the open.

    In typically conventional operations, the FMBT will be employed by integrated mechanised formations at the level of an armoured division as a part of a strike corps to advance into enemy territory in developed (including riverine), semi-desert and desert terrains. In so doing the FMBT will be expected to engage and destroy enemy mobile forces based on quantitatively comparable mechanised formations comprising tanks as well as armour-protected mobile / ground-based / aerial anti-tank weapon systems - both guided and smart / autonomous. The FMBT will have to negotiate well-developed and well-defended anti-tank obstacle systems comprising anti-tank minefields laid in isolation or contiguous to ditches / canal systems, inundated / water-logged / irrigated terrain. Whereas combat teams comprising the FMBT will be the lowest level of tactical employment in major offensives, operations in developed terrain will have to contend with a high habitation density with a residual
    militant populace wherein mechanised operations may involve periods of tactical isolation down to troop level.

    In defensive operations, combat teams (or squadrons) equipped with the FMBT will be the lowest level of tactical employment as a part of combat group operating on developed (including riverine), semi-desert and desert terrain wherein the FMBT will fulfill its aforementioned primary, as well as secondary, roles.

    Conventional operations envisaged above will be undertaken under enemy-imposed conditions of locally denied/degraded electromagnetic spectrum, 24-hour protective surveillance, likely resort to nuclear/chemical weapons including 'dirty' bombs, as also potent omni-directional threats to individual tanks and/or the crew from the air, surface and sub-surface from very short-range (300m or less) to long-range smart/intelligent weapons, or even anti-material rifles that can take out exposed tank-commanders and vehicular fixtures such as sights and fuel-tanks.

    The terrain of immediate interest where a FMBT (or its variants) may be employed includes desert/semi-desert, as well as the obstacle-ridden plains and low-hills along
    the western land borders of the country; it also includes the riverine / marshy terrain in the eastern parts of the country as also in the general area of the Rann.

    Terrain further East includes the hills and jungles of the North-East that saw armour in action during WW II. Our island territories, as well the unforeseeable deployment and operations on expeditionary peace-keeping/combat missions, present unique terrain constraints to the transportation, role and employment of any armour deployed therein. [Contd...]

  33. The plain and simple issue in deciding what tank Indian Army would need depends on answering the question what is the shape and quality of the Chinese armour likely to be in future. Added to that is employability of that armour in Tibet. Chinese perspective in evolution of armour is of paramount importance as Pakistan will largely depend on Chinese design and development in tank technology to equip its armour formations.
    Second factor that needs to be seen is that what will be Pakistan ability to import tanks from USA, West and Russian designed tanks. No one can guaranteed that in times to come M1A1 or Leopord would not line up from the west.

    That means the MBT indeed has to be designed for defeating all kinds of top of the line tanks of the world. There is no doubt in that. However, there is no more any blitzkrieg in developing and obstacle ridden terrain. Hence top class stand off ammunition would be the game changers (fire-power, protection and mobility, should fall in that sequence).

    However, Indian Army's mechanised capability needs to be extended to Tibet and all other light portable road worthy tanks. Hence a light tank design and development is a must preferably like a troop carrier like Markava which should to the forte of Mechanised infantry for other contingencies.

  34. Considering Asia’s present geo-political scenario, our basic focus will be on Western front & Northern- Eastern front.

    Northern-Eastern front which mostly pass through hilly terrain seems to have few selected regions for effective maneuvering of tanks, so emphasis must be given on deploying artillery like light Howitzers & MLRS suitable for given topography so the question of developing light weight tank does not arises since this concept is more suitable for expeditionary forces like USA & UK.

    On the western front which seems to be more volatile & unstable with Pakistan, here most of the region is plain including Rann of Kutch & Thar Desert which has an average altitude of 0-300 mtrs above sea level which is I think is more suitable for operating battle tanks which must be able to capture considerable stretch of land which will be enough to place us in dominating positions & later can be use as tool of bargain.
    Here are some major requirements for FMBT

    CREW: 4 No. of Crews (Driver, Commander, Gunner & Loader) because auto loading requires mechanical subsystems which may increase the weight & also require extra maintenance.

    ENGINE: 1500 HP Hybrid Engine (Diesel + Electric).
    PRIMARY WEAPONS: Must be able to fire HEAT rounds, APFSDS rounds, HESH rounds also LAHAT rounds depending on the targets to be engaged.

    SECONDARY WEAPONS: Coaxial heavy Machine Gun which will act as anti-material weapon & also 7.62mm machine gun on the turret.

    COMMUNICATIONS: Intercom headset for internal communications & encrypted radio network for external communications with command & also with buddy tanks.

    NETWORK CENTRIC (C4ISR): Must be able to exchange data from Spy plane, UAV for: Real time Intelligence, identification of friend & Foe (IFF), also for navigations & sharing of target acquisition.

    PROTECTION & COUNTER MEASURES: Combination of composite amour for turret. The hull of the tank must have maximum use of composite material rather than metal OR must have some radar absorbent material & active protection system for asymmetric warfare apart from Smoke grenades, electronic jammers & Tank exhaust heat suppression system to minimize thermal signature.

    Kindly refer this link

  35. Before we think of designing a new tank let us debate the chances of a copy-book, set-piece conventional war in the plains/tankable country. In my humble opinion a conventional war with Pakistan is unlikely but cannot be ruled out. Indian Army's advance into enemy territory is also likely to be extremely limited due to international pressure, the nuclear environment and above all India's consistently defensive policy. So then, where do we use the new tank? A border incident or a skirmish will have to be instantly responded to with an eye on severely restricting its scope in time and space. At the same time, India will have to demonstrate her resolve without a full scale mobilization as during Op. Parakram

  36. What will a future battlefield or war look like? That would be the logical place to start.

    Perhaps wars/battles will NOT be fought a la Shakargarh, but might take on elements as well as topographies seen in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, submontane Punjab, with mines, UAVs, smart guided missiles, aircraft including helicopters, being the main opponents. Robotic elements of various sorts, including nano-devices might come into play.

    Given such scenarios, one might question the utility of a conventional tank. Certainly we would need to use a fuel cell with on-board reformation, for range, and weight to payload efficiency. Guided missiles, rather than artillery would be the primary weapon. There might be little defense because the antagonists would be satellites homing in with much larger capacity guided missiles or directing UAVs and other aircraft for strikes. I.e. tanks might become semi-robotic platforms, with very few men, who would be provided escape routes or be semi-expendable, as were tank crews of WWII. Such is war, through the ages. Mobility, concealment from advanced tracking equipment, and lethal firepower being delivered to point sources, is what this part-robotic platform should focus upon.

    Indians have not been able to design a useful assault rifle, nor a jet trainer. An assault rifle is not rocket science, dozens of countries have manages to cross this preliminary test of military technology, including small nations like Finland. But not us, with our eternal chest-thumping!!

    Let us not forget our inability to produce useful field artillery and the ammunition for such. During Kargil, we were running to S. Africa and other vendors for the long-range shells for the Bofors guns.

    First we need to get the elementary things right, before we can talk about the bigger fantasies. Brazil designs and builds aircraft of various shapes and sizes, including engines, while we cannot. Let us learn how to build simple engines, and turbines, learn metallurgy and annealing steels to metals. We have some experts but need to train many more, in basics of advanced welding and annealing. Only then can we begin to talk of turbines, and things like tanks THAT WORK!

  37. I have always had a keen thought about the main serving purpose of any tank in the armed forces, for long. Presently we spend millions on a heavily/mildly armored vehicle with 1 primary gun, a few secondary smaller guns, grenade launchers and smoke charges. I have always believed that the current tank designs aren't enough to suffice the invasion needs of any ground armed forces. A true battle tank should be a land version of a powerful naval destroyer, which can sink an entire small island on itself. For me an FMBT should be a totally new design or a fusion of proven technologies rather than just another successor. I think an enlarged motor operated gatling gun should be designed as the primary gun with atleast 3 barrels. A rotating gatling gun can fire far more rapid rounds than any conventional single mounted primary gun. The FMBT should have missile hard points like those on Tejas, smaller version of MBRLs should be developed to fire different types of ammunition, it should have troop carrying capability as well as a belt based fast loader, a scaled up version of the conventional bullet belt which is used in gatling guns. finally a military class MagLev can be developed to remove the wheels, gearbox, axles etc which will not only reduce the weight of the tank but also leave more usable space. a multi fuel turbine is a must. i may sound stupid to some but unless we start dreaming big, even the simplest of stuff will appear big/complex.

  38. from what i have seen and learned, India needs a powerful, but mobile tank that can be produces in large numbers, to lower the price of the individual tanks and for export obviously. it also needs to be compact so it can be transported easily and cheaply, that extends to the engine which should be a diesel, to avoid fires and to produce more torque. a few tanks that could be taken as a reference are: Yugoslavia's M-84 and M-90 "Vihor" [a new haul and turret with an improved version of the M-84's gun, auto-loader and targeting systems], Criatia's M-95 "Degman" [an M-90 "Vihor" turrent on a t-72 haul], the Soviet/Russian T-80 [with it's turbine engine swapped for a diesel unit] and T-72. tanks as a bad example could be: the American M1 "Abrams" [all variants] due to it's high operational and transport cost as well as the flammable fuel, Germany's "Leopard" I & II [all variants, Israel's "Merkava" [all generations and variants.

    to sum all of that up with simple words, a t-72 haul with an M-90 "Vihor" turret and gun with the armor of the M1 "Abrams" and to finish it of - a drive-train layout like the "Merkava", the major components like the engine and whole engine assembly in front of the crew for added protection.

    weight: 45 tonnes [give or take a few]
    Length 9,40-9,70 m
    Width 3,40-3.60 m
    Height 2,15-2,30 m
    Crew 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
    Armor: secret composite alloy and contact-reactive add-on armor
    main armament: 125 mm smooth bore gun or 120 mm smooth bore gun
    secondary armament: 7,62 mm coaxial machine gun
    12,7 AA machine gun
    6-10 smoke grenades
    different types of main gun fired anti-tank missiles
    Engine: diesel 1,200-1,500 hp [depending on many factors
    Power/weight: 26,7-33,3 hp/tonne
    Suspension: torsion bar
    Operational range: 750 km
    speed: 60-80 km/h [depends on terrain]

    well... this is what i think and see, what about you? any ideas, remarks or questions?

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