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PHOTOS: The best battle tanks in the world today

Last updated on: August 3, 2011 11:58 IST

The best battle tanks in the world today

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Rediff Newsdesk

The symbol of an army's battlefield strength remains the Main Battle Tank. Originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks, main battle tanks are today considered a key component of modern armies.

The obsolescence of the tank has been asserted from time to time, but recent history suggests that the MBTs are still necessary.

Technology has reduced the weight and size of the modern MBT, making them faster to operate and lethal in operation. Advanced armour has not only improved vehicle survivability but has reduced crew fatalities.

Let's take a look at some of the best battle tanks in the world today.

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Type 99 (China)

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The Type 99KM is currently the most advanced MBT in the People's Liberation Army. A unit of the Type 99 or ZTZ99, which is the fastest battle tank in the world, is worth over US$2.5 million.

Primary weapon: 125 mm smoothbore tank gun, compatible with Chinese 140mm guns, 155 mm for Type 99KM

Secondary weapon: Type 85 heavy machine gun 12.7 108 mm commander's machine gun, 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, JD-4 active laser defence system

Engine: Liquid cooled, turbocharged 1,500 hp diesel

Weight: 54 tons for Type-99G, 57 tons for Type-99A1,58 tons for Type-99A2

Maximum Speed: On road 80 km/h, cross country 65 km/h

Crew: 3 (driver's compartment is in the front)



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M1A2 Abrams (United States)

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The tank, named after General Creighton Abrams (former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972), was developed by General Dynamics Land Systems in 1978. The Abrams are anticipated to be in US service until the 2050s.

Primary weapon: 105 mm L52 M68 rifled cannon (M1), 120 mm L44 M256 smoothbore cannon (M1A1, M1A2, M1A2SEP) 42 rounds

Secondary weapon: 1 x .50-caliber (12.7 mm) M2HB 900 rounds heavy machine gun, 2 x 7.62 mm (.308) M240 machine guns (1 pintle-mounted, 1 coaxial (Has separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety)

Engine: Gas turbine engine Honeywell AGT1500C multi-fuel turbine engine(1,120 kW)

Weight: The MBT is considered one of the heaviest tanks in the world It weighs 67.6 short tons (61.3 t; 60.4 long tons)

Maximum Speed: On Road: 45 mph (72 km/h) Off-road: 33 mph (52.8 km/h)

Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver). Has separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety

Operational Range: 479.24 km; With NBC system: 567.24 km

Cost: US$6.21 million



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Challenger 2 (Britain)

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Challenger 2 is a British main battle tank currently in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman.

It was designed and built by the British company Vickers Defense .The current British main battle tank has seen in action in Iraq. One Challenger was hit by eight RPG's and a MILAN anti-tank missile, but its crew survived unharmed though shaken. It also uses the same Chobham armor as the Abrams. It can survive 14 hits from rocket propelled grenades and from one MILAN anti tank missile.

Primary weapon: L30A1 120 mm rifled gun with 52 rounds

Secondary weapon: Coaxial 7.62 mm L94A1 EX-34 (chain gun),7.62 mm L37A2 Commander's cupola machine gun

Engine: Perkins CV-12 Diesel 1,200 hp (890 kW)

Weight: 62.5 tons

Maximum Speed: 59 km/h on road, 37 km/h off road

Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader/operator, driver)

Operational Range: 450 km

Cost: $7,921,000 per unit


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T90 (Russia)

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The T-90S is the latest development in the T-series of Russian tanks and represents an increase in firepower, mobility and protection. It is manufactured by the Uralvagonzavod Plant in Nizhniy Tagil (Potkin's bureau) of the Russian Federation.

Primary weapon: 25 mm smoothbore gun with ATGM capability; mainly 9M119 Svir

Secondary weapon: 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun, Laser warning receiver, EMT-7 electronic pulse (EMP) creator, Shtora infrared ATGM jamming system

Engine: 4-stroke V-84ms diesel engine with 849hp

Weight: 46.5 tons

Crew: 3

Operational Range: 650km on roads and 500km off road

Maximum Speed: 65 km/h



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Merkava (Israel)

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First introduced in 1977, the Merkava was design with crew safety and protection in mind. Though low in mobility, it has adapted well to the urban nature of warfare faced by the Israeli forces. But its complex design lowers its production rate. The Merkava, which is means Chariot in Hebrew, is the main battle tank of Israel Defense Forces.

Primary weapon: 120 mm (4.7 in) MG253 smoothbore gun, capable of firing LAHAT ATGM

Secondary weapon: 1 12.7 mm (0.5 in) MG, 2 7.62 mm (0.3 in) MG, 1 60 mm (2.4 in) internal mortar

Engine: 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) turbocharged diesel engine

Maximum Speed: 64 km/h

Crew: 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)

Weight: 65 tons



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Leopard 2 (Germany)

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The Leopard 2, was first produced in 1979 and is in service with the armies of Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Turkey, with over 3,200 produced. The Leopard 2 is the main battle tank of Germany.

Primary weapon: Rheinmetall RH-M-120 120-mm smoothbore gun

Secondary weapon: 750 x 7.62-mm machine gun

Engine: MTU MB-837 Ka501 diesel 1,500 hp

Maximum Speed: On road 72 km/h (range: 550 km)

Crew: 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)

Weight: 55 tons



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Arjun (India)

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About 124 Arjun Mark-I tanks, comprising two regiments, have already been inducted into the Army after being manufactured in Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi. An advanced variant of the MBT will undergo serial production in 2014.

Primary Weapon: 120mm rifled gun

Secondary Weapon: Mag 7.62mm Tk715 anti-infantry machine gun (coaxially); 12.7mm (.50 caliber) HCB anti-aircraft machine gun

Engine: German-based MTU 838 Ka 501-series turbocharged, water-cooled, diesel-fueled engine 1,400 hp

Crew: 4 (commander, driver, gunner, loader)

Maximum Speed: 70 km/hr on road, 40 km/hr off road

Range: 450 km

Weight: 58.5 tons



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T-84 (Ukraine)

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The T-84, the main battle tank of Ukraine, is one of the fastest existing MBTs in the world, It entered service in the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 1999.This tank was developed from Soviet T-80. The T-84. Oplot is an advanced version incorporating an armored ammunition compartment in a new turret bustle.

The T-84-120 Yatagan is a prototype model intended for export, mounting a 120 mm gun capable of firing standard NATO ammunition and guided missiles.

Primary Weapon: KBA-3 125 mm smoothbore gun (43 rounds)

Secondary Weapon: 7.62 mm KT-7.62 coaxial machine gun, 12.7 mm KT-12.7 anti-aircraft machine gun

Engine: KMDB 6TD-2 6-cylinder diesel 1,200 hp (890 kW)

Crew: 3

Maximum Speed: 65 km/h

Weight: 46 tons



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Leclerc (France)

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The Leclerc main battle tank (MBT) built by Giat Industries is operational with the French Army and the armed forces of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. The Leclerc was first operational with the French Army in 1992 and with UAE in 1995. Leclerc mk2 tanks with improved software and engine control system entered production in 1998.

Primary Weapon: GIAT CN120-26/52, 120mm tank gun 40 rounds

Secondary Weapon: 12.7 mm coaxial M2HB machine gun 1,100 rounds, 7.62mm machine gun 3,000 rounds

Engine: 8-cylinder diesel Wartsila 1,500 hp (1,100 kW)

Crew: 3 (commander, driver, gunner)

Maximum Speed: 70km/h

Weight: 56 tons



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Al-Khalid (Pakistan)

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In 1990 Pakistan embarked on this project to develop its own tank and within 10 years it has designed manufactured and tested the product which is now in production. It is worth mentioning here that it took India 25 years to develop her project of Arjun tank and cost her considerably more. After the field trials with Pak Army, the tank was officially handed over to Pakistan Army on September 23, 2004.

Primary Weapon: 125 mm smoothbore gun, 39 rounds

Secondary Weapon: 7.62 mm coaxial MG, 3000 rounds, 12.7 mm external AA MG, 500 rounds

Engine: KMDB 6TD-2 6-cylinder diesel 1,200 hp (890 kW)

Crew: 3 (commander, driver, gunner)

Maximum Speed: 72 km/h

Weight: 48 tons

Operational range: 500 km


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