Altai, Black Panther, Oplot: What are modern battle tanks worth? 3/3

It was said to be outdated or too vulnerable, yet combat tanks have experienced a remarkable resurgence of interest in recent years from the world's major armies. After having presented the main Western, Russian and Chinese tanks in the two previous articles, we are going, in this final analysis, to focus on less known models, and yet powerful and promising, on the operational scene as in the field of export.

Today’s time for K2 Black Panther South Korean, the Turkish Atlay, the Japanese Type 10 and the Ukrainian BM Oplot.

South Korea: K2 Black Panther

Considered by many specialists to be the most modern and attractive tank in the Western bloc, the K2 Black Panther has, however, had a difficult development, and some of its elements, notably its transmission and its engine, are still in the process of being made more reliable.

The development of the K2 began in 1995 to replace the obsolete M48 Patton tanks of the South Korean armed forces, and was based on a first model of tank of local design, the K1-88 developed on a basis of Chrysler XM1, model which served as the basis for the design of the American M1 Abrams.

It is, with the Japanese Type 10 and the Turkish Altay, one of the only Western tank models which is not an evolution of an older model, as in the case of the Leopard German 2A7 or American M1A2C Abrams. 10,8 meters long with a combat mass of 55 tonnes, the K2 is a rather light tank compared to its European or American counterparts.

Poland will field nearly a thousand K2 Black battle tanks Panther
Fast, agile and well protected, the K2 Black Panther South Korean is considered a very balanced and modern tank, capable of supporting all types of engagements of the moment.

By its recent invoice, the K2 has many perfectly modern technologies. First of all, its MIL-12560H composite armor gives it basic protection similar to that of other heavy tanks, although lighter. In addition, it carries a full range of complementary defensive systems, ranging from reactive armor bricks to local soft-kill and hard-kill systems, natively integrated into the armor, and not added as for Western tanks.

Its armament is also perfectly level, with a 120 mm CN08 smoothbore cannon and an automatic loading system capable of sustaining a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute comparable to that of the French Leclerc, a reference in the field.

In addition to the traditional arrow, shaped charge or breaking shells, the gun can also fire a missile designated KSTAM with a range of 8 km, following a parabolic trajectory before deploying a parachute in order to locate its target with a mixed infrared and radar homing device, and hit it from above, like the Franco-Swedish BONUS shells.

The 3-man crew has a state-of-the-art detection and targeting system, combining the traditional infrared vetronic systems and the laser rangefinder with a very high frequency radar, allowing the tank to hook targets up to almost 10 km, if line of sight is available.

Like the Leclerc, the K2 can thus fire with great precision on the move, while maintaining a high rate of fire. The system is designed so that the tank can remain operational with a crew of only two personnel, against 3 in normal staffing.

However, the Black Panther encountered significant difficulties concerning the development of an engine and a distribution of local invoice, obliging the first batch of 100 tanks to be equipped with an MTU MT-883 engine and a RENK transmission of German invoice, the second batch of 106 receiving a local Doosan DV27K engine but retaining the German distribution. Only the third batch of 54 units will be equipped with an entirely South Korean propulsion system, with a Doosan DV27K transmission and the Doosan engine.

This defect did not seem to be prohibitive on the international scene, since Poland ordered more than 1000 of these tanks a few months ago, alongside K9 self-propelled guns and K239 multiple rocket launchers, with an important industrial and technology transfer.

Barely three months after the order was signed, the first K2s intended for the Polish forces were delivered, while a second batch will arrive in Warsaw in February. South Korea's industrial potential, in the current context following the surge in tensions after the Russian attack on Ukraine, constitutes today, alongside the incontestable qualities of Black Panther, a remarkable asset for this model, including in Europe.

Japan: Type 10 battle tanks

Due to its low international exposure, and in particular its absence from international competitions, the Japanese production of armored vehicles is most often ignored by a large part of the public. However, Japanese companies have produced, over the last few decades, many models of high-performance armored vehicles, including battle tanks. Entering service from 2012, the Type battle tank is one of them, and the lightest of the western battle tanks.


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