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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Western tanks will soon hit the battlefield in Ukraine. How do they compare with the Russians?

(CNN Spanish) — It looks like Ukraine will finally get what it has been asking for so much. The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom have pledged to send tanks to help defend against a Russian invasion, and other European countries such as Poland, Norway and Spain may join in.

The West’s main tanks, the German Leopard 2, the American M1 Abrams and the British Challenger 2, could soon be operating on the battlefield in Ukraine, facing Russia’s T-72, T-80 and T-90.

Although the M1 Abrams and Challenger 2 had already successfully engaged Russian-built tanks in the Iraq War, in 2003, they were older models (early versions of the T-55, T-62, and T-72). Inadequately trained staff. In the case of the Leopard 2, there have been no known conflicts with other tanks in its operational history.

This means that these three front-line western tanks will for the first time (manned by Ukrainians) fight against Russia’s most modern armor, manned by Russian crews.

US M1A2 Abrams tanks of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Raider Brigade) stand in Grafenwohr, Bavaria, Germany, July 13. (Daniel Karman/Picture-Coalition/DPA/ Associated Press)

But what are the main differences between Western and Russian tanks?

Although they are battle tanks developed by three different countries, the Leopard 2, M1 Abrams and Challenger 2 share much in common in terms of design, armor and weapons due to standardization within NATO.

The Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams also emerged from a joint development program between Germany and the United States on the MBT-70, which ultimately did not prosper, but which laid the foundation for both projects.

Russian tanks respond to a completely different concept and, meanwhile, can be grouped into two large families: the T-64 and its modernized version the T-80, and the T-72 and its current successor the T-90.

Both Western and Russian tanks are Cold War-era developments, with major modernizations in the 1990s and 2000s.

Western Tanks Will Soon Hit The Battlefield In Ukraine. How Do They Compare With The Russians?

A Russian T-90M tank, one of the most modern versions, parades through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 9, 2022. (Credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)


The Americans, Germans, British, and Russians designed their tanks on learnings from World War II, but chose to emphasize different issues.

The three western tanks arriving in Ukraine are operated by four crew members, three of whom are housed in a turret on top of the tank armed with the main gun. The fourth driver is at the helm.

In Western tanks the turret is usually large enough to hold crew members and a large portion of the cannon’s ammunition, carried in special chambers designed to explode out of the tank in the event of a hit, Thereby improving the chances of survival. of the crew.

In general, Western tanks are heavier and longer than their Russian counterparts. The weight of the M1 Abrams and Challenger 2 reaches 62 tonnes in their basic versions and the Leopard 2 reaches 72 tonnes.

Western Tanks Will Soon Hit The Battlefield In Ukraine. How Do They Compare With The Russians?

A German Leopard 2 tank during a demonstration in Münster near Hanover, Germany, September 28, 2011. (Michael Sohn / Associated Press)

The Russians, on the other hand, have tried to make their tanks as small as possible to reduce their silhouette on the battlefield and improve their survivability.

Thus, they only have three crew members, two of them in a small turret that does not store any ammunition (except on some models of the T-90). To achieve this feature, they use automatic loaders for the main gun instead of a dedicated loading crewman, and store ammunition in the hull.

The result is that these tanks are lightweight, a quality that allows them to navigate areas with poor road infrastructure and cross less capable bridges. The T-72 weighs 46 tonnes, while the T-90 weighs up to 48 tonnes.

The tradeoff for this design decision is the tendency of Russian tanks to cause catastrophic explosions when they collide into the hull, where ammunition is stored. These explosions often hurled the turret into the air, as was seen in the Ukrainian War.

Western Tanks Will Soon Hit The Battlefield In Ukraine. How Do They Compare With The Russians?

A photo taken on September 12, 2015 shows a Russian T-80 tank during training. (Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)

Western tanks are not immune to these explosions, but are designed to carry out the explosion in an attempt to rescue the crew.


The Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams use the same 120-millimetre smoothbore gun (the barrel has no rifling to guide the direction of rotation of the projectile) developed by the German company Rheinmetall and produced in the United States under license.

The Challenger 2 is equipped with a British-designed rifled barrel of similar caliber with similar characteristics.

These tanks are also equipped with at least two 7.62-caliber machine guns, usually one coaxial to the barrel (meaning it shoots in the same direction) and the other on the roof of the turret.

The Russian tanks are all armed with versions of the same 125-millimetre smoothbore gun, which fire a slightly larger shell.

Western Tanks Will Soon Hit The Battlefield In Ukraine. How Do They Compare With The Russians?

A British Challenger 2 tank on September 25, 2001 north of Thumbrat, Oman. (Credit: Pete Bristow / British Army / Getty Images)

The large size of the ammunition required that it be loaded in two parts, the projectile and explosive charge being separate, another reason why the Russians use automatic loaders.

In addition, they usually carry a coaxial 7.62-millimeter machine gun and a heavier 12.7-millimeter machine gun on the roof of the turret.

In general, Western and Russian guns have similar capabilities, and in both cases they are in a position to destroy each other, so the result of a collision usually depends on the level of training of the crews, the quality of the sensors, the shooting and optics—which are generally more advanced in the West—and the particular situation on the battlefield.

engine and speed

The M1 Abrams uses an advanced and complex gas turbine engine, currently the only one in its class, with a maximum output of 1,500 horsepower. These engines are lighter than conventional engines and provide greater relative power at the cost of higher fuel consumption.

The Leopard 2 and Challenger 2, instead, use conventional diesel engines at higher weight and lower consumption. Leopard 2 with a power of 1,500 hp and Challenger with 1,200 hp.

The M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 can reach speeds of over 70 km/h with a range of 400 and 450 km respectively, while the Challenger 2 can reach speeds of 60 km/h with a range of 550 km.

Western Tanks Will Soon Hit The Battlefield In Ukraine. How Do They Compare With The Russians?

Russian T-72-B3 tanks during military exercises at the Raevsky firing range in southern Russia on September 23, 2020. (Credit: DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP via Getty Images)

In their earlier versions, Russian T-80s also used gas turbines, but nowadays they are usually produced with diesel engines of around 1,000 horsepower, like the T-72 and T-90.

The T-72 thus reaches a top speed of 65 kilometers per hour with a range of 550 kilometers, while the T-90 reaches 60 kilometers per hour with the same range.

shielding and protection

The three Western tanks are equipped with advanced composite armor (steel often combined with layers of ceramic and other non-metallic components that degrade effective projectiles more efficiently), initially developed in the UK and developed at Chobham / Known as Dorchester.

The exact composition of the Chobham/Dorchester armor is a mystery.

In addition, this armor is often molded at angles to further increase its protection, and is particularly concentrated on the front of the hull and turret.

Russian tanks mostly use steel armour, although some models, such as some T-80 and T-90 models, have their own version of composite armour. They also ride it at steep angles.

In general, they are usually reinforced with reactive armour, small ceramic plates attached to the hull and turret, which explode when hit by a projectile.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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