The current best main battle tank from the USA, Russia, and China

 The USA, Russia, and China’s army are the three largest ground forces in the world, both in quantity and quality. The armed forces manpower of these three countries are 1.5, 1.0, and 2.1 millions, respectively. The USA has about 34000 armored fighting vehicles, whereas Russia and China have 18000, and 13000  vehicles (see http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/howtomakewar/databases/armies/default.asp). This includes main battle tanks (MBT), combat supports vechicles, infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), armored personnel carriers (APC). There are also other equipment such as artillery, surface to air missiles systems, and engineering equipment. Among all of these mentioned, the main battle tank (MBT) is the most formidable military equipment for the ground forces.

The most advanced MBT fielded by the USA is M1A2 Abrams. Over 3000 units have been built so far, not mentioning 5000 older M1A1s makes the Abrams a most popular MBT. It has proven to be a best experienced MBT, both in the Gulf and Iraq Wars. The most significant battle won by M1A2 was during Iraq War when many Iraqis Soviet built T-72s were destroyed. It was due to the better firepower range of M1A2 at 2500 m. The T-72 however, could not fire effectively more than 2000 m range. Many argued the victory was because the Iraqis T-72s unlike their Russian counterparts did not have night visions and modern rangefinders, and also lacked of anti tank missiles. However, it still showed that M1A2 was a very formidable design.

M1A1 Abrams in Iraq. M1A2 looks the same from outside

M1A1 Abrams in Iraq. M1A2 looks the same from outside

 

Russian T-90

Russian T-90

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese ZTZ-99

Chinese ZTZ-99

The table below shows some comparison among these three MBTs. It sources from US Defence, Jane’s, Sinodefence, and wikipedia.

 

M1A2

T-90

ZTZ-99

Number in service

1500

500

200

Weight (tonnes)

68

46

54

Cruising range (km)

400

650

600

Power/weight (hp/tonnes)

25

23

28

Speed (km/h)

67

65

80

Speed, off road (km/h)

48

n.a

60

Armor

All have unknown composite, ERA

Protection

             NBC

         NBC

          NBC

Primary gun (mm)

120

125

125

Gun range (m)

4000

5000

5000

Rounds penetration (mm)

790

950

960

Secondary gun (mm)

7.62

7.62

7.62

Anti aircraft gun (mm)

12.7

12.7

12.7

ATGM capability

No

Yes

Yes

ATGM range (m)

0

6000

6000

Night vision

Yes

Yes

Yes

Laser finder

Yes

Yes

Yes

Autoloader

No

Yes

Yes

Crew

4

3

3

From the table, we may think that the ZTZ-99 is the best. It has a anti tank guided missile (ATGM) similar to T-90 but it has more power and speed. Also, ZTZ-99 is 2000s design technology, whereas M1A2 and T-90 based on the 1980s design with improved sensors and armaments. However, unlike M1A2 and T-90 (assuming it is used in Georgian conflict), ZTZ-99 does not have any real combat experience yet.

Hence, M1A2 is still the best battle experience MBT, followed by T-90. However, ZTZ-99 could be the best MBT ever deployed so far.

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15 Responses

  1. More interesting info:
    Top 10 Best MBT

  2. there’s load of info about the type 99 tank on this site too http://www.army-technology.com/projects/type99chinese-main/

  3. Dear Sir or Ma’am,

    I was wondering if I could have permission to use a picture of a the T-90 tank which is on your blog for an academic presentation? Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Pieter Miller

  4. t90Russian T-90

  5. indonesia kapan ya punyak banyak teng yang bagus-bagus.

  6. This site underestimates the effectiveness of the M829A1 SABOT round fired by the M1A2 Abrams. Through many mathematical formulas, I estimate the penetration of the Abrams SABOT round to be at least 1,100mm of steel. Let us not forget an incident between a M1A1 and two T-72′s from Iraq, the M1 fired a SABOT round that went clean through a T-72′s turret, traveled another 50 yards, then blew off the second one’s turret..

  7. I SEE YOU FROM THE GOOGLE SEARCH

  8. T-90 #1, Russian Military power #1!

  9. Leopard 2 a7+ is faster, better gun,better ammo, and tungsten armor (also the heaviest tank so lots of armor)

  10. Undeniable. Leopard2A7 is the most powerful tank in the world. And, no argue that during WW2 Germany has proved to the world it has the most formidable as well as durable tanks in the world. M1A2? T-90? Step asides, no offense, but it is true. Indian tank? Never heard before, not even in my list.

  11. Agree, Leopard is one the best designs.

  12. Certainly a comparison of two different generations of tank (T-72, M1A2) is unrealistic as the newer tank has the advantage. However between tanks of the same generation there is no such thing as a clear cut “best tank”. Tanks do not fight duals with other tanks they operate as part of a combined arms team. In WW2 the western Allies had qualitatively poorer tanks then the German’s yet they one all their battle’s. They had the best artillery, they had total air superiority, they had numerical superiority and adequate supplies of fuel and ammo. So while any single Western tank could barely take on a STG 3 or Pz 4 taken as part of a combined arms team they had the advantage.
    Nothings changed any of the 3rd generation tanks functioning as part of a combined arms team is capable of dealing with any of the others. For example A troop of 30 Le Clerc’s with 10 attack helicopters in support, 4 mobile 105 howitzers, four anti tank missle carriers and 30 AIFV. Faces 40 M1a1′s without supporting forces. It is not 30 vs. 40 the supporting units are what are called force multipliers.
    A remote piloted vehicle can be a force multiplier, radio jamming equipment. So it does not come down to just the qualit and number of tanks but the whole “combined arms team”

  13. People are forgetting the training… The Chinese put in the most training hours but have zero battlefield experience and zero creativity in problem solving. The Russians are just plain drunk all the time so of no consequence.

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