Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Modern light and armored reconnaissance tanks

A few days ago, the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment, based in Carpiagne, received the first two Armored Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicles, or EBRCs, also designated Jaguar, to replace its AMX-10RC light tanks.

If the French armies, accustomed to external operations in Africa and the Middle East, have never ignored this type of armor combining firepower and mobility with the AMX-10RC and the ERC-90, a The vast majority of the world's armed forces withdrew them from their inventories following restructuring funds after the end of the Cold War.

More recently, the conjunction of the tightening of asymmetric engagements on the one hand, and the return of the hypothesis of high intensity combat on the other hand, led several large armies to reconsider their positions, and to once again equip themselves with light tanks. to complete their armored fleets.

Beyond the French Jaguar, many new models have been developed in recent years to join the world's major armies, such as the Chinese Type 15, the Russian Sprut-SD or the American MFP. What are the performances and the doctrines of use of these materials expected to play an increasing role in future military engagements?

This summary presents the characteristics of the main light tank models in production or in development around the world, with the Chinese Type 15, the French EBRC Jaguar, the American MFP and the Russian 2S25 Sprut-SD.

China: Type 15 light tank

Presented for the first time publicly in October 2019 on the occasion of the imposing military parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army , the Type 15 light tank marks, with the Type 99/A heavy tank, the emancipation armies and Chinese industry of the Soviet and then Russian model.

Indeed, if the Russian land forces do not operate, strictly speaking, light tanks identified as such in their inventory (apart from the airborne forces), delegating this type of mission to infantry fighting vehicles, or even tanks. heavy, Chinese forces must intervene in certain environments that are particularly hostile to heavy armor, such as the Himalayan highlands facing India, or the subtropical jungles facing Vietnam.

The Type 15 light tank was developed precisely with this in mind in order to replace the Type-62 (not to be confused with the Soviet T-62), a 20-ton light tank armed with an 85 mm cannon produced from 1962 to 1989 with more than 1500 copies.

Barely entering service, the Type 15 was very quickly deployed on the Ladakh plateau to demonstrate its effectiveness. We must believe that the demonstration bore fruit, since the DRDO, the Indian arms agency, announced shortly after the development of a national light tank, the Zarowar , precisely for the same type of mission on the same theaters than the Type 15.

Type15 e1607949688833 Light tanks and armored reconnaissance | Construction of armored vehicles | Defense Contracts and Calls for Tenders
The Type 15 was deployed in 2019 on the Himalayan plateaus along the demarcation line with India

9 meters long, 3.3 meters wide and 2.5 meters high, the Type 15, also known as the VT-5 light tank for export, is a 35-ton tank with reactive armor, which in its time could have classify it in the category of medium tanks, since it is close in its dimensions and in its mass to the AMX-30 or the T-62. It is also armed with a 105 mm high-pressure rifled cannon, like the French tank. However, the comparisons stop there with these tanks from the 60s.

Indeed, the Type-15 is a perfectly modern armored vehicle, having all the technological achievements of the moment, with composite armor and reactive armor tiles, perfectly modern vetronics and communication systems, stabilized aiming and a automatic loading system allowing a crew of three people.

In addition, the armored vehicle could receive a hard-kill protection system in addition to these active protections (jammers, smoke and decoys). Above all, it is powered by a very powerful 8V132 engine developing 1000 hp, giving it an extraordinary power/weight ratio of 28 hp per ton, and therefore remarkable mobility, including on unstable terrain.

VT-5 light tanks are the export designation of the Chinese Type 15
The Type 15 is offered for export under the destination VT-5 at a very attractive price of around $3 million per unit.

The Chinese tank was designed not only to increase the firepower of Chinese units in difficult terrain, but also to be air-transportable by Y-20 aircraft . If the APL has not communicated, as usual, endowment objectives concerning this tank, it is probable that it will be called upon to be produced between 800 and 1000 examples to replace the Type 62, taking into consideration the contraction of the APL format following the reforms of the last two decades.

It is also offered for export under the name VT-5, and has already been acquired by Bangladesh in the amount of 44 units. Due to its format, its effectiveness and its estimated cost of $3 million per unit, it is likely that it will be called upon in the years to come to equip other armed forces, particularly in Africa, Asia and South America. . However, as is often the case with Chinese equipment, it is necessary to wait for the armored vehicle to prove itself in the field before concluding as to its effective effectiveness.

France: EBRC Jaguar

Heir to a long line of French light armored vehicles on wheels and successor to the ERC-90 Sagaie and the AMX-10RC, the EBRC Jaguar is an original light tank in more than one way. On the one hand, it is the only armored vehicle on wheels in this panel with the Italian Centauro II, mounted on the same 6x6 chassis as the Griffon Multi-Role Armored Vehicle of which it shares a large part of the DNA within the SCORPION program of the Army, aimed at modernizing the middle segment of its combat vehicles.

It is also one of the lightest, with a combat mass of 25 tonnes, second only to the Russian Sprut, which is also a special case. Finally, it is the one which carries the lightest main armament, with a single 40mm CTA cannon supported by 2 MMP anti-tank missiles in the turret and a turret armed with a 7.62mm machine gun. But what may initially appear to be weaknesses could well prove to be significant assets from an operational point of view.

Indeed, the 6x6 configuration, associated with a 490 hp engine, a very versatile electro-pneumatic suspension and an axle mass of eight tonnes, offer the armored vehicle exceptional mobility, including on the most unfavorable terrain.

EBRC Jaguar e1652367121220 Light tanks and armored reconnaissance | Construction of armored vehicles | Defense Contracts and Calls for Tenders
The Jaguar crew consists of 3 members, 2 in turrets (commander and gunner) and one in hull (driver)

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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