In 1916, the battle landscape changed forever when a new armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat arrived. The tank, with heavy firepower, strong armour, tracks, and a powerful engine provided good maneuverability. Tanks were first deployed by the British Army against the Germans in World War One. A tank was able to traverse nomans land, crossing fields of barbed wire and crushing enemy trenches in the process. The first tanks were powered by tractor engines and had a half inch of armour. They were equipped with machine guns and cannons, and could cause considerable damage to the enemy. They started out slow, but modern tanks have come a long way, with some topping 43 mph (70 kph). Today we’ll be looking at how far tanks have come…how the technology, capability and fire power has advanced. So strap yourself in, hold on to your hats, and welcome to this episode of the Infographics Show: The 10 Most Powerful Tanks.
At number 10, let’s take a look at the K2 Black Panther. Development began in South Korea in 1995 using indigenous technology only. This tank uses composite armour of an undisclosed type, and explosive reactive armour modules. It is claimed that the front armour could withstand direct hits from 120 millimeter tank rounds, fired from L55 guns. This tank has a very advanced fire control system which can spot, track and fire automatically at visible vehicle-size targets, and even low-flying helicopters. The Black Panther is fitted with a powerful diesel engine with a top speed of 43 mph (70 kph), making it quite a beast!
At number 9 is the M1A2 SEP. Providing significant protection against all well-known anti-tank weapons, it is the backbone of the US armed forces. This burly main battle tank uses advanced armour, reinforced with depleted uranium layers. With a shorter 120 millimeter L44 smoothbore gun to the K2 Black Panther, its firepower is slightly inferior but it still packs a formidable punch. It carries one 120 millimeter M256 smoothbore gun, one coaxial 7.62 millimeter M240 Machine Gun, and one 12.7 millimeter M2 machine gun. It can top 42 mph (68 kph).
Next, at number 8, we’ve got The Challenger 2 battle tank. This is an advanced mean-machine in service with the British Army and with the Royal Army of Oman. One of the strongest tanks in the world, the turret and hull are protected by second generation Chobham armour, the details of which are classified, but which is said to be more than twice as strong as steel. This British tank is armed with a very accurate 120 millimeter rifled gun. Its maximum aimed range is over 5 kilometers. Currently the Challenger holds the record for longest tank-to-tank kill.
At number 7 is the T90, a third-generation Russian battle tank that entered service in 1993. The T-90’s main armament is the 2A46M 125 millimeter smoothbore tank gun. It is capable of firing armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot, high-explosive anti-tank, and high explosive fragmentation ammunition, as well as Refleks anti-tank guided missiles. Refleks can penetrate about 950 millimetres of steel armour and can also engage low-flying air targets such as helicopters. This is one formidable battle vehicle.
We have another Russian tank at number 6 with The Armata, a new generation battle tank. It was first publicly revealed in 2015 and is much bigger than the T-90. It is armed with a 125 mm smoothbore 2A82-1M tank cannon that carries 45 rounds, of which 32 are in the autoloader. There is also a 12.7 millimeter Kord machine gun, and a 7.62 millimeter PKTM machine gun. The BBC reported in 2017 that The Armata is a highly automated tank, replacing much of Russia’s Soviet-era armour. It’s advanced Active Protection Systems or APA, makes it highly efficient at destroying anti tank missiles and so it is very hard to defeat.
At number 5 is The Leopard 2A7+, a next generation main battle tank revealed in 2010. This tank leverages the technology of the Leopard 2 and has been adopted by the German Army to conduct warfare in urban areas, as well as traditional military missions. The Leopard 2A7+ main battle tank is equipped with a modular protection kit with passive modules to offer 360° protection to the crew from anti-tank missiles, mines, improvised explosive devices (or IEDs) and rocket-propelled grenade (or RPG) fire. This tank is also fitted with a mine plough, for clearing mines and obstacles.
At number 4 is The Merkava Mark IV, the latest version of the Merkava range of main battle tanks. The tank entered into service with the Israel Defence Forces in 2004 and is regarded as one of the best protected tanks in the world. The Mk.4 is armed with a 120 millimeter MG253 smoothbore gun capable of firing high-explosive anti-tank rounds, as well as anti-tank guided missiles. The 7.62 millimeter coaxial and 12.7 millimeter swivel-mounted machine guns and 60 millimeter grenade launcher complement the fire power of the tank. The Trophy active protection system aboard the tank protects the crew against advanced anti-tank missiles. The tank can shift at an impressive maximum speed of 40 mph (64 kph).
We have a Japanese tank at number 3 with the Type 10 (TK-X). The Type 10 is an advanced fourth-generation main battle tank built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the Japan Ground Self Defence Force. It went into service in 2012 and claims outstanding mobility. The Type 10 comes with a 120 millimeter smooth-bore gun, a 12.7 millimeter heavy machine gun and Type 74 7.62 millimeter cannon. The tank’s hull is attached with modular ceramic composite armour offering protection against RPG rounds, HEAT projectiles, and anti-tank missiles.
At number 2 we have The Leclerc, one of the best main battle tanks in the world. It is in service in France, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. It is protected with an advanced modular armour system and its armour is a combination of steel, ceramics, and Kevlar. The Leclerc is armed with a 120 millimeter smoothbore gun, 52 caliber long, fitted with a bustle-mounted autoloader, holding 22 rounds. The remaining 18 rounds are stored in a carousel-type storage area in front of the hull. It is claimed that Leclerc can engage 6 targets, located 1.5 – 2 km away, in one minute, with a hit probability of 95%. That’s some awesome striking capability.
And finally at number 1 is the Type 99 or ZTZ-99, a third generation main battle tank built by China Northern Industries Group Corporation, for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. It has a fully-stabilised 125 millimeter smoothbore gun equipped with auto-loader which provides superior firepower. The tank is also armed with a 12.7 millimeter anti-aircraft gun and a 7.62 millimeter coaxial machine gun. The tank features a steel armoured hull, and the front portion and turret are covered with explosive reactor armour. And it’s up there with the fastest! It has a turbo-charged 1,500 horse-power diesel engine providing a maximum on road speed of 50 mph (80 kph).
When we did our research for today’s episode we were amazed at just how many tanks are out there. Many of them have strengths worth highlighting. We only touched on 10 but wow, how powerful these vehicles are? Can you think of any other tanks worth a mention? Will tank warfare even be a thing in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called Top 10 Most Powerful Militaries in 2017! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!