Main Battle Tanks: East vs West

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boogieman

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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 07:00

Hi all,

Picking this up from where an OT conversation left off here:

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=56676&start=60

knowan wrote:Syria lost 6 of their 40 T-90s in 2015-2018, 5% of their T-90 strength per year. Compared to that, they lost 437 of their 1600 T-72s in 2011-2018, or 3.9% of their T-72 strength per year.

Proportionally to the number of tanks of each type Syria has in service, the T-90s were being lost at a comparable rate to T-72s, which suggests the T-90 isn't the wunderwaffe Russian propaganda makes it out to be.


This is interesting - do you have a source for these stats? It would be good to dig into them a little deeper to ascertain how those 6 T90's were lost.

knowan wrote:Yet in actual armor testing, both 105mm M700 series APFSDS, 105mm DM33 APFSDS and 105mm DM12 HEAT could penetrate the T-72 from any practical range.

If Iranian M60s struggled against Iraqi T-72s, then they were using terribly obsolete ammunition.


Quite plausible. Do you have a source for this one as well?

knowan wrote:Kontakt-5, the Russian Kruppstahl, able to bend reality as desired by Russian propaganda and Russian fanboys...

...there's no mention of being 'immune' to M829 of any sort, that's all a fabrication by Chinese bloggers.


So testing revealed M829 could, in fact, defeat Kontakt-5? You know what I'm going to ask next - got a source? :wink:
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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 07:25

boogieman wrote: these stats? It would be good to dig into them a little deeper to ascertain how those 6 T90's were lost.


https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/20 ... 2011-2017/

Data is only for 2011 to 2018, T-90s entered Syrian service in 2015.


boogieman wrote:Quite plausible. Do you have a source for this one as well?


https://imgur.com/a/RAs6vHR
http://www.angelfire.com/mi4/armania/ar ... T72M1.html


knowan wrote:So testing revealed M829 could, in fact, defeat Kontakt-5? You know what I'm going to ask next - got a source? :wink:


I don't have actual data on the tests, AFAIK nobody has been able to find any data from publicly available sources either, suggesting it is classified.

There is a distinct scarcity on hard information in general about the effectiveness of heavy ERA against long-rod KE penetrators, which is why claims of K-5 or Relikt making a tank 'invulnerable' should be treated with a hefty dose of scepticism.
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boogieman

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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 07:46

knowan wrote:https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/20 ... 2011-2017/

Data is only for 2011 to 2018, T-90s entered Syrian service in 2015.


Perfect, thanks.

It's tricky to draw conclusions here because the T90 sample size (both the number used and the number lost) is so small. I couldn't see any mention of how those T90's were lost (eg. were they knocked out by ATGMs? tank sabot/HEAT rounds? IED/mines? simply captured?) which is unfortunate because it would shed more light on the T90's survivability.

I'm certainly not of the opinion that the T90 is a "wunderwaffe" but I am interested in data from its combat employment - the anecdotes coming from the battlefield suggest it is fairly resilient. Time shall tell how true that is I guess.

knowan wrote:https://imgur.com/a/RAs6vHR
http://www.angelfire.com/mi4/armania/ar ... T72M1.html

...I don't have actual data on the tests, AFAIK nobody has been able to find any data from publicly available sources either, suggesting it is classified.

There is a distinct scarcity on hard information in general about the effectiveness of heavy ERA against long-rod KE penetrators, which is why claims of K-5 or Relikt making a tank 'invulnerable' should be treated with a hefty dose of scepticism.


That's great, thanks for the sources once again. The first two certainly seem to debunk the cold war narrative that said the T72 was immune to cannon fire from the M60.

As for Kontakt-5 and its ability to resist M829 - I think it's a case of "extraordinary claims call for extraordinary evidence". It does seem that the jury is still out on exactly how effective it was under testing against American anti tank rounds. It will be interesting to see if more information comes to light on this subject in the future.
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boogieman

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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 09:51

Hmm so I did a bit more digging around and other sources citing the Janes article also include this quote:

"During the tests we used only the weapons which existed with NATO armies during the last decade of the Cold War to determine how effective such weapons would have been against these examples of modern Soviet tank design. Our results were completely unexpected. When fitted to the T-72A1 and B1 the 'heavy' ERA made them immune to the DU (Depleted Uranium) penetrators of the M829A2 APFSDS (used by the 120 mm guns of the Cold War era US M1 Abrams tanks), which are among the most formidable of current tank gun projectiles. We also tested the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger (the gun of the A-10 Thunderbolt II Strike Plane), the 30mm M320 (the gun of the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter) and a range of standard NATO Anti Tank Guided Missiles – all with the same result of no penetration or effective destruction of the test vehicles. The combined protection of the standard armour and the ERA gives the Tanks a level of protection equal to our own. The myth of Soviet inferiority in this sector of arms production that has been perpetuated by the failure of downgraded T-72 export tanks in the Gulf Wars has, finally, been laid to rest. The results of these tests show that if a NATO/Warsaw Pact confrontation had erupted in Europe, the Soviets would have had parity (or perhaps even superiority) in armour” – U.S. Army Spokesperson at the show.
Newer KE penetrators have been designed since the Cold War to defeat the Kontakt-5 (although Kontakt-5 has been improved as well). As a response the Russian Army has produced a new type of ERA, “Relikt”, which is claimed to be two to three times as effective as Kontakt-5 and completely impenetrable against modern Western warheads.

Anyone able to shed light on the above?
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hornetfinn

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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 11:10

One of the best sources for Russian/Soviet tanks is Vasiliy Fofanov who was (and might still be) very active in Tanknet military forums and was very knowledgeable about Russian tanks. Here is his website about the tanks:

http://fofanov.armor.kiev.ua/index.html

And there is penetration test data of T-80U and T-90:
http://fofanov.armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/TRIALS/19991020.html

It seems very possible that T-80U and T-90 with Kontakt-5 could be mostly immune frontally to M829 as those resisted 3BM42 (which they probably used) even when stripped. M829 has better performance than 3BM42 especially at longer ranges, but K-5 should counter that. However M829 was the baseline and was soon followed with much better M829A1, M829A2, M829A3 and finally M829A4. Each one has about 10-15% better penetration than previous one and are better designed to counter ERA.

Interesting data about M829A4 from DOT&E: https://www.dote.osd.mil/Portals/97/pub ... 105950-793

So M829A4 is close to M829A3 other than the addition of data link which allows the tank fire control to progam the round before firing. This is interesting given that this is APFSDS-T and not explosive round where such programming feature is pretty easy to understand (like engagement profile or time to target).

T-72 has many variants with very different protection levels. T-72M1 used by Iraq is the worst protected and those rounds mentioned should have decent chance of penetration within meaningful ranges. I've also heard from several very knowledgeable Finnish tank officers that T-72M1 (we had those before Leopard 2) had variations in protection level depending on when and where they were built. T-72B-variants with K-5 have much better protection and should be pretty invulnerable against 105mm ammunition but most 120mm rounds should go through at most ranges.
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weasel1962

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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 11:17

Not sure how relevant since the weapon of choice against MBTs nowadays appears to be either a 500lb LJDAM, paveway or a 200lb SDB. ERA or armor won't make a difference. Latest test was by Turkey in Operation spring shield.

Tanks hit by other tanks, even if killed can probably be repaired and returned to service. Haven't read of any tank being repaired after a direct hit by a paveway yet.

In that context, I think the US Army acknowledged the potential difficulties of handling 3G ERA when they developed the M829A3 and now M829A4

https://www.dote.osd.mil/Portals/97/pub ... 105950-793

The M829A4 120 mm cartridge is a line-of-sight kinetic energy cartridge designed for the Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 MBT. It is the materiel solution for the Abrams’ lethality capability gap against threat vehicles equipped with third-generation explosive reactive armor.
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boogieman

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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 11:44

hornetfinn wrote:One of the best sources for Russian/Soviet tanks is Vasiliy Fofanov who was (and might still be) very active in Tanknet military forums and was very knowledgeable about Russian tanks. Here is his website about the tanks:

http://fofanov.armor.kiev.ua/index.html

And there is penetration test data of T-80U and T-90:
http://fofanov.armor.kiev.ua/Tanks/TRIALS/19991020.html

It seems very possible that T-80U and T-90 with Kontakt-5 could be mostly immune frontally to M829 as those resisted 3BM42 (which they probably used) even when stripped. M829 has better performance than 3BM42 especially at longer ranges, but K-5 should counter that. However M829 was the baseline and was soon followed with much better M829A1, M829A2, M829A3 and finally M829A4. Each one has about 10-15% better penetration than previous one and are better designed to counter ERA.

Interesting data about M829A4 from DOT&E: https://www.dote.osd.mil/Portals/97/pub ... 105950-793

So M829A4 is close to M829A3 other than the addition of data link which allows the tank fire control to progam the round before firing. This is interesting given that this is APFSDS-T and not explosive round where such programming feature is pretty easy to understand (like engagement profile or time to target).

T-72 has many variants with very different protection levels. T-72M1 used by Iraq is the worst protected and those rounds mentioned should have decent chance of penetration within meaningful ranges. I've also heard from several very knowledgeable Finnish tank officers that T-72M1 (we had those before Leopard 2) had variations in protection level depending on when and where they were built. T-72B-variants with K-5 have much better protection and should be pretty invulnerable against 105mm ammunition but most 120mm rounds should go through at most ranges.


Thanks for the above. Will look forward to delving into those links when I get the chance.

weasel1962 wrote:Not sure how relevant since the weapon of choice against MBTs nowadays appears to be either a 500lb LJDAM, paveway or a 200lb SDB. ERA or armor won't make a difference. Latest test was by Turkey in Operation spring shield.

Tanks hit by other tanks, even if killed can probably be repaired and returned to service. Haven't read of any tank being repaired after a direct hit by a paveway yet.

In that context, I think the US Army acknowledged the potential difficulties of handling 3G ERA when they developed the M829A3 and now M829A4

https://www.dote.osd.mil/Portals/97/pub ... 105950-793

The M829A4 120 mm cartridge is a line-of-sight kinetic energy cartridge designed for the Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 MBT. It is the materiel solution for the Abrams’ lethality capability gap against threat vehicles equipped with third-generation explosive reactive armor.


For context, this discussion was borne out of a hypothetical confrontation with Russia in Europe (e.g.. the Baltics). While harder hitting PGMs might be the weapon of choice here I doubt that would be comforting to Abrams crews tasked with facing down multiple Kontakt-5/Relikt toting Russian tanks for every one of their own. :shock:
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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 13:44

boogieman wrote:Perfect, thanks.

It's tricky to draw conclusions here because the T90 sample size (both the number used and the number lost) is so small. I couldn't see any mention of how those T90's were lost (eg. were they knocked out by ATGMs? tank sabot/HEAT rounds? IED/mines? simply captured?) which is unfortunate because it would shed more light on the T90's survivability.

I'm certainly not of the opinion that the T90 is a "wunderwaffe" but I am interested in data from its combat employment - the anecdotes coming from the battlefield suggest it is fairly resilient. Time shall tell how true that is I guess.


It's the National Interest, but for this article they seem to have interviewed the author of the analysis posted by bellingcat, and gotten some details on the T-90 losses from him: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... ason-77961

According to Janovský, of the thirty transferred to the Syrian Arab Army, he is aware of five or six T-90As being knocked out in in 2016 and 2017, mostly by wire-guided TOW-2A missiles. (Some of the knocked out tanks, to clarify, may be recoverable with heavy repairs.) Another four may have been hit, but their status after the attack as not possible to determine. Of course, there may be additional losses that were not documented, and there are cases where the type of tank involved could not be visually confirmed.




boogieman wrote:Anyone able to shed light on the above?


Those sections are apparently fake. That it is talking about M829A2, which is reported to have been developed in response to NATO tests of K-5, is a giveaway.



boogieman wrote:For context, this discussion was borne out of a hypothetical confrontation with Russia in Europe (e.g.. the Baltics). While harder hitting PGMs might be the weapon of choice here I doubt that would be comforting to Abrams crews tasked with facing down multiple Kontakt-5/Relikt toting Russian tanks for every one of their own. :shock:


Well, in the context of a Soviet vs NATO Cold War conflict in the 1980s, only the T-80U and T-72B m1989 were equipped with K-5 at that time, and those models made up only a small portion of the Soviet tank strength.

Earlier T-80Us had base armor packages similar to that of later production T-64Bs too; it wasn't until the 1989 model the T-80U received a base armor package more comparable in protection to the late T-72B and early T-90.
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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 22:10

knowan wrote:It's the National Interest, but for this article they seem to have interviewed the author of the analysis posted by bellingcat, and gotten some details on the T-90 losses from him: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... ason-77961

According to Janovský, of the thirty transferred to the Syrian Arab Army, he is aware of five or six T-90As being knocked out in in 2016 and 2017, mostly by wire-guided TOW-2A missiles. (Some of the knocked out tanks, to clarify, may be recoverable with heavy repairs.) Another four may have been hit, but their status after the attack as not possible to determine. Of course, there may be additional losses that were not documented, and there are cases where the type of tank involved could not be visually confirmed.


Gotcha. Would be welcome news (if true) to know that the second best TOW variant can get the job done against Russia's premier tank. The next (perhaps pedantic) question would be where the T90s were struck as there are plenty of anecdotes that describe T90's surviving TOW hits across the frontal arc.

knowan wrote:Those sections are apparently fake. That it is talking about M829A2, which is reported to have been developed in response to NATO tests of K-5, is a giveaway...


Yes, that occurred to me too. Makes sense.

knowan wrote:...Well, in the context of a Soviet vs NATO Cold War conflict in the 1980s, only the T-80U and T-72B m1989 were equipped with K-5 at that time, and those models made up only a small portion of the Soviet tank strength.

Earlier T-80Us had base armor packages similar to that of later production T-64Bs too; it wasn't until the 1989 model the T-80U received a base armor package more comparable in protection to the late T-72B and early T-90.


I was more referring to a future crisis but yes this is a valid point. Even so, one would hope that healthy stocks of M829A4 would be both a.) sufficient to reliably defeat modern Russian ERA and b.) readily available to Abrams crews in theatre.
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Unread post05 Mar 2020, 23:16

knowan wrote:There is a distinct scarcity on hard information in general about the effectiveness of heavy ERA against long-rod KE penetrators, which is why claims of K-5 or Relikt making a tank 'invulnerable' should be treated with a hefty dose of scepticism.


It isn't just heavy ERA it is combination of ERA and armor. You can put Relikt on T-72B (as they did with T-72B3) and get nice protection but still noticeable less then T-90S (turret with ceramic tiles).

So when heavy ERA damage KE round, and then hit ceramics effect is much better then when it hit non ceramic armor or cast armor with ceramic balls, there is much higher chance to hit empty space in case of balls then tiles.
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Unread post06 Mar 2020, 02:52

~25k M829A4 rounds funded thru FY 21 (@ $16k unit cost per round), and an average production rate of ~3k rounds per year. With an objective of 2,101 M1A2 upgraded to SEPv3, that translate into roughly 11-12 rounds per tank. Normally a fraction of that number of tanks that will actually go into battle, so potentially load out could be higher. The bulk of ammo load out will still be multi-purpose rounds, the new M1147 AMP will enter full rate production in FY 2021.
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Unread post06 Mar 2020, 03:11

This a fun little video that does a good job explaining things

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weasel1962

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Unread post06 Mar 2020, 04:54

Don't think we're going to see as much tank on tank conflict in the baltics. I think there has been quite a bit of analysis on Russki tactics in Ukraine and its impact to tank battle.

This is good read.
https://cepa.ecms.pl/files/?id_plik=2991

Firstly, the US Army isn't going to deploy without air cover.
Secondly, the Russkis are leveraging on artillery (zelenopillya's Tornado G being highlighted)
Thirdly, the newest Russki tanks use APS (see link above).

Despite all the peacetime deployment to the baltics, the sure weight of numbers of the western military district render any actual wartime deployment there highly risky at best. More likely the battleground would be Poland where airpower can be best leveraged.

Russki orbat.
http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/d ... 0CTP_0.pdf
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Unread post06 Mar 2020, 10:18

boogieman wrote:
knowan wrote:It's the National Interest, but for this article they seem to have interviewed the author of the analysis posted by bellingcat, and gotten some details on the T-90 losses from him: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... ason-77961

According to Janovský, of the thirty transferred to the Syrian Arab Army, he is aware of five or six T-90As being knocked out in in 2016 and 2017, mostly by wire-guided TOW-2A missiles. (Some of the knocked out tanks, to clarify, may be recoverable with heavy repairs.) Another four may have been hit, but their status after the attack as not possible to determine. Of course, there may be additional losses that were not documented, and there are cases where the type of tank involved could not be visually confirmed.


Gotcha. Would be welcome news (if true) to know that the second best TOW variant can get the job done against Russia's premier tank. The next (perhaps pedantic) question would be where the T90s were struck as there are plenty of anecdotes that describe T90's surviving TOW hits across the frontal arc.


I doubt TOW-2A will have consistent success against T-90 frontally. The Russian tests show that their own Kornet missile failed to penetrate in tests against T-90 (except one missile when no ERA was present), although they did penetrate T-80U (although not consistently with ERA). Kornet missile is very similar to TOW-2A

Of course TOW-2A is over 30 years old missile and TOW-2B (like Javelin or Israeli Spike missiles) will kill any tank it hits. This is why APS has been pretty popular in Russian tanks.

boogieman wrote:
knowan wrote:Those sections are apparently fake. That it is talking about M829A2, which is reported to have been developed in response to NATO tests of K-5, is a giveaway...


Yes, that occurred to me too. Makes sense.

knowan wrote:...Well, in the context of a Soviet vs NATO Cold War conflict in the 1980s, only the T-80U and T-72B m1989 were equipped with K-5 at that time, and those models made up only a small portion of the Soviet tank strength.

Earlier T-80Us had base armor packages similar to that of later production T-64Bs too; it wasn't until the 1989 model the T-80U received a base armor package more comparable in protection to the late T-72B and early T-90.


I was more referring to a future crisis but yes this is a valid point. Even so, one would hope that healthy stocks of M829A4 would be both a.) sufficient to reliably defeat modern Russian ERA and b.) readily available to Abrams crews in theatre.


I think M829A3 is very capable of defeating all current operational Russian tanks frontally. Of course T-14 Armata is likely pretty tough but it's not really operational yet AFAIK.
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Unread post06 Mar 2020, 12:12

hornetfinn wrote:I doubt TOW-2A will have consistent success against T-90 frontally. The Russian tests show that their own Kornet missile failed to penetrate in tests against T-90 (except one missile when no ERA was present), although they did penetrate T-80U (although not consistently with ERA). Kornet missile is very similar to TOW-2A

Of course TOW-2A is over 30 years old missile and TOW-2B (like Javelin or Israeli Spike missiles) will kill any tank it hits. This is why APS has been pretty popular in Russian tanks...

... I think M829A3 is very capable of defeating all current operational Russian tanks frontally. Of course T-14 Armata is likely pretty tough but it's not really operational yet AFAIK.


Yes I think APS of various persuasions look set to become standard equipment on any future MBT worth its salt. It is also easy to get bogged down in the armour vs penetrator race and neglect the fact modern MBTs are networked nodes in the joint force - information dominance is likely just as important for them as it is for combat aircraft.

To that end, I fully acknowledge the possibility that killing a tank with another tank may be a method of last resort, with the CONOPS calling for the use of an effector that places the shooter at minimum risk while maximising damage done. This might range from concealed ATGM teams to rotary and fixed wing air power to artillery strikes. Why counter scissors with scissors when you have a perfectly good rock? :wink:
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