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Armata vs Abrams

Which one is better?

Armata vs Abrams

Comparison of the Armata and Abrams tanks. Which is the best?



   The Russian Armata and American Abrams are two of the world's most advanced and deadliest main battle tanks. Which one of them is better and why? And even though some things about these tanks such as armor composition are kept in high secrecy, we know a lot about these machines.

 

HISTORY

 

   The current M1A2 Abrams is a significantly upgraded Cold War-era development. Its predecessor, the original M1 Abrams, was adopted by the US Army back in 1980. The tank was named in honor to the General Abrams, commander of US forces during Vietnam War. It replaced in service the M60 Patton. Eventually it proved to be a successful design and was produced in large numbers. Throughout the years this tank was constantly improved, upgunned and uparmored. The M1A2 SEP v2 is the current version, which forms the backbone of the US military armored forces. A number of older Abrams tanks were converted to this standard. It is planned that upgraded M1A2 series tanks will remain operational with the US military beyond 2050.

   The Russian T-14 Armata is a more modern design. During the recent military conflicts Russians faced that their T-90 main battle tank could not maintain superiority over the modern Western and Asian main battle tanks. A replacement was needed. Development of the new tank began in 2011 and was kept in high secrecy. A first batch of pre-production tanks was delivered in 2015. The Armata was first publicly revealed during the same year. It full-scale production could begin in 2020-2021. It is planned that once in service, the Armata will gradually replace the ageing Russian T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks that become out-dated.

 

CONCEPT BEHIND THESE TANKS

 

   During the last century there were always significant differences between Russian and Western tanks, their layout and the way their systems operated.

   The Abrams follows the lines of Cold War-era Western main battle tanks. It uses composite armor, similar to the British Chobham. Frontal armor is reinforced with depleted uranium armor mesh for a higher level of protection. Furthermore the Abrams can be fitted with add-on explosive reactive armor. Most of the ammunition is store in the turret bustle with blow-out panels. The tank is rather bulky, however it is well protected against most anti-tank weapons.

   The M1A2 is armed with a manually-loaded 120 mm smoothbore gun. The tank has modern fire control system with high first round hit probability.

   The Abrams is operated by a crew of 4, including commander gunner and driver.

   Unique feature of the Abrams tank is its gas turbine engine. It is a multi-fuel engine, which can run on any grade of petrol, diesel, aviation fuel or kerosene. The engine has impressive performance and is running silent. However it is troublesome to maintain and has very high fuel consumption comparing with traditional diesel engines.

   So basically the United States went for a technologically advanced, bulky, yet very agile tank.

   On the other hand the Armata is a new-generation tank. It is a clean sheet design with a number of advanced features. It has little in common with the current T-90 and other older Soviet tanks. Actually it it the first Russian truly new production tank since the T-72, that was adopted back in 1973. Design of the Armata focuses on heavier armor and crew survivability. Exact technical specifications of the new Armata remain classified.

   The Armata has an unmanned turret and is operated by a crew of 3. It is in line with Russian tank-building concept, that the tank should be operated by a smaller crew in order to reduce its dimensions and weight and improve protection. However this new tank has new layout. All crew members are seated at the front of the hull in a well protected armored capsule. The gun is loaded automatically and ammunition is separated from the crew compartment.

   Design of the Armata focuses on heavy armor and crew survivability.

 

ARMOR PROTECTION

 

    The Abrams is one of the most protected tanks in the world. It uses composite armor, reinforced with depleted uranium armor mesh. Also it can mount add-on explosive reactive armor. The tank is well protected against most known anti-tank weapons.

   The US Army aims to put a cutting-edge defensive technology, called active protection system, on its Abrams tanks. It is designed to destroy approaching anti-tank rockets and anti-tank guided missiles. This technology increases overall survivability of the tank. So far the Abrams tanks were not fielded in combat with such protection system.

   Also the Abrmas tanks are fitted with countermeasures system, which interrupts infra red and laser guidance of anti-tank missiles.

   The Russian Armata uses newly-developed base armor, made of steel, ceramics and composite materials. Also the Armata has a new Malakhit add-on explosive reactive armor that is claimed to be of new generation. Protection level of the Armata tank remains classified. It might be one of the most protected tanks in the world.

   It has been reported that the Russian Armata will be fitted with new Afganit active protection system. This tank also has a new countermeasures system that reduces the chance of being hit by anti-tank guided missiles.

   Overall in terms of protection none of these two tanks has an advantage over the other.

 

CREW SURVIVABILITY

 

   Crew of the Abrams is well protected and has some chances of surviving once the armor is penetrated. Most of the ammunition is stored in a turret bustle with blow-out panels. The bustle is separated from the fighting compartment. If the bustle is hit, ammunition detonates without killing the crew. Some rounds are stored inside the hull in protective containers. Interior of the Abrams is lined with Kevlar liner for protection against spalling.

   The Russian Armata tank was also built with crew survivability in mind. All of its crew members are seated in a well protected armored cell. It is a world's first production tank with completely unmanned turret and with such crew layout. The crew is completely separated from automatic loader and ammunition. The tank has improved resistance to damage. It can operate even with penetrated armor, as far as the crew cell is intact.

   Overall the Russian Armata might be slightly superior in terms of crew survivability due to its protected crew cell and entirely isolated ammunition.

 

GUN

 

   The Abrams is armed with a 120 mm/L44 smoothbore gun. Even though it is not the most advanced tank gun available on the market today, it packs a formidable punch. It is accurate and has a range of effective fire in excess of 4 km. Its effective range was successfully demonstrated during numerous military conflicts throughout the world. The gun is loaded manually by the gunner. The M1A2 Abrams was one of the first tanks with a hunter-killer engagement capability. The tank commander uses a panoramic sight to search for targets. Once the target is selected the gun is laid on the target automatically and the gunner completes al the aiming and firing process. During that time commander looks for the next target. Such engagement method allows to acquire and engage targets faster. Currently similar target acquisition systems are present on most main battle tanks.

   The Russian Armata is armed with a new 125 mm smoothbore gun. It has longer range and is more accurate than previous Russian tank guns. The new tank gun is supperior to that of the T-90 tank. It has more muzzle energy than the gun of the Abrams. However at longer ranges the Russian tank guns were traditionally not as accurate as Western tank guns. In order to coupe with this drawback the Armata can launch long-range anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. These missile have a range of up to 5 km and can also target low flying helicopters. The gun is completed with an autoloader. This feature allowed to reduce the crew to 3 men. The Armata is fitted with a brand new fire control system.

   So far it is unclear how accurate is the gun of the Russian Armata is, in order to compare it with the Abrams.

 

MOBILITY

 

   The American Abrams tanks are powered by a gas turbine engine, developing 1 500 hp. Basically it is a modified helicopter engine, adapted for use on tanks. It is compact for its power output. So even though the Abrams is heavy and bulky, this tank is surprisingly nimble due to its powerful engine. It is much faster than many other tanks and has superior cross-country performance. Furthermore its gas turbine unit has more advantages over traditional diesel engine, typically used on tanks. It is a multi-fuel engine, which can run on kerosene, diesel, petrol or aviation fuel. It can start at extremely cold temperatures. Also the engine is remarkably quiet. Due to this feature the Abrams is even nicknamed the Whispering Death. The gas turbine engine has servicing intervals significantly longer than those of diesel engines. However the gas turbine engine has a number of drawbacks. Notably it is troublesome to maintain and has very high fuel consumption comparing with diesels.

   The Russian Armata is powered by a new turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 200 hp. It is a new-generation engine, that is much more compact and powerful than previous Russian tank engines. This engine is not yet proven and might have a number of teething problems. However this Russian diesel is way more fuel efficient and easier to maintain than the American gas turbine.

   The Abrams accelerates faster than the Armata and has superior cross-country performance. However overall in terms of engine power and mobility both tanks have their own strengths and weaknesses.

 

PRODUCTION NUMBERS

 

   The American Abrams was churned-out in thousands. A number of these tanks were exported to the US allies and friendly states, such as Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. The Abrams is a proven tank. It saw action in numerous hotspots around the world. Furthermore only few of these tanks were ever destroyed. So the Abrams deserves reputation as being one of the best tanks in the world.

   On the other hand the Armata is a new clean sheet design that is still being developed, improved and tested. Only a small batch of pre-production tanks was built. This tanks never saw combat. There are some signs, that indicate that Russia is preparing to launch a full-scale production of these tanks. Series production of this tanks could begin in 2020-2021. It is likely that the Armata will have a number of teething problems, as many of its components are also brand new and unproven.

   So basically the Abrams has an advantage of being proven and reliable design, that performs well during various military conflicts.

 

OVERALL

 

   Overall the new Russian tank is on par with the US Abrams tank. In some areas it is slightly superior than the Abrams, however it has got no cutting-edge superiority.

   The Abrams has technical superiority in mobility and cross-country performance. This tank is a proven design, that recommended itself well during numerous military conflicts.

   The Armata has an advantage of survivability and crew protection. Though this tank is still a raw design, that will likely to have numerous teething problems.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal appeal from Andrius Genys

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