New tanks for old: Part II: tank top upgrades. (Upgrades).
Part the Second
I this article armada moves to the tank turret. Upgrades centred on the turret, whether inside or out, fall into three categories--the various target acquisition and fire control systems, the tank's main armament and/or new ammunition and those elements of survivability (threat warners and countermeasures) not covered in the first part of this article (see Part I in issue 3/2002, page 48).
This second part gives an opportunity to instance the various elements that may be applied to a main battle tank upgrade.
Jordan is well into a three-phase project to modernise about 100 of its M60A3 tanks, under the designation AB9B1, using an upgrade package developed by the King Abdullah II Design Bureau (KADDB, pronounced "Cadbee"). The first phase of the modernisation introduces fire control improvements for the existing M68 105 mm rifled gun, augmented in the second phase by a firepower upgrade. The third phase covers automotive and protection enhancements (already covered in the first part of this article).
To accomplish this project, KADDB brought together an international team of contractors in 1999, which includes Raytheon (fire control), Ruag Land Systems of Switzerland (armament) and General Dynamics Land Systems (automotives). The project moved forward in March 2002 with the contract award to KADDB and Raytheon from the Jordanian Armed Forces to upgrade "an initial quantity of ... M60 tanks", for which Raytheon is providing its IFCS integrated fire control system. The first tranche, valued at just under $50 million, involves the conversion of sufficient tanks to equip the first battalion plus some additional ones for training and repair (around 50 tanks).
The IFCS comprises a Raytheon Elite II Raman-shift eye-safe laser rangefinder, a General Dynamics Canada digital ballistic computer, an improved turret stabilisation system and a Raytheon Hire gunner's primary sight. For the first tranche, the latter is expected to incorporate a Gen1 thermal imaging sight, but subsequent batches may have a Gen2 (240 x 4) focal-plane array sight.
All development work required for integration of the IFCS with the existing M68 105mm gun aboard the M60A3 is now complete.
KADDB is well into AB9B1 phase two development, up-gunning the M60A3 with the L50 120 mm smoothbore Compact Tank Gun (CTG) developed by Ruag. Firing trials were staged in April this year and the results are being used to develop revised ballistic data for the IFCS.
The turret was fitted with a preliminary ammunition stowage arrangement (said to be 22 rounds) incorporated in the bustle, but ultimately it may be modified to include a blowout panel arrangement, and the stowed load could rise to as many as 34 rounds using additional bins below the turret ring.
Consider the T-72
The Russian T-72M1 is one of the world's most widely deployed tanks and has been the subject of many upgrade proposals, covering simple fixes to complex and comprehensive modernisation, from all areas of the world defence industry. The Czech-developed T-72M4 CZ--is now coming to fruition.
However, Russia makes much of the need to involve the original equipment manufacturer in an upgrade of any Russian-designed platform (be it tank, ship or aircraft).
The Ural Design Office of Transport Mechanical Engineering (the original T-72 design authority) and Uralvagonzavod combined with Rosoboronexport to offer a comprehensive T-72M1 upgrade. All elements of this package originate in equipment produced for the T-80 and T-90 series MBTs.
A new computerised fire control system incorporates twin-axis stabilised sights for the commander and gunner. The data from these and other sensors (wind, tilt and temperature) is fed, via a databus into a new ballistic computer allowing targets to be engaged during poor visibility conditions by day and night. A thermal automatic target tracker can also be integrated.
The gunner's day/night `multi-channel sight' comprises optical, thermal (offering a 3000-metre identification under normal night conditions) and laser missile guidance channels, plus a laser rangefinder.
The commander's sighting and vision system offers a repeat display of the gunner's sight, an optical channel (covering 47[degrees] in azimuth and 19[degrees] in elevation) and a control unit for the optional remote controlled 12.7 mm NSVT antiaircraft machine-gun mounting.
A new main armament--the 125 mm 2A46M smoothbore gun with a quick-detachable barrel-to-breech ring joint--is offered, with built-in boresight. This, Rosoboronexport says, improves accuracy 35 per cent at longer range. The gun can fire the current range of APFSDS (armour-piercing, fin-stabilized discarding sabot), APDS (armour-piercing, discarding sabot), Heat (high explosive anti-tank) and Hef (high explosive fragmentation) ammunition (42 rounds carried below the turret ring) plus the 9M119M laser-guided missile (up to six of which may be carried) with a maximum range of 5000 metres.
Improved communications in the form of the R-168-25U radio can be installed together with a satellite navigation system and a digital map display, compatible with the American Navstar-GPS or Russian Glonass (the prime element of the protection system is the new multi-purpose explosive reactive armour discussed in Part I).
A new 81 mm smoke grenade launching system is fitted above the turret ERA and projects an obscurant aerosol, deployable in 203 milliseconds, to decoy laser-guided munitions. Protection can be improved by adding the Arena-E automatic active protection system.
In the event of a hit on the tank an automatic fire suppression system within the fighting compartment (another option) can deploy a Khladon 13B1 fire-suppressant compound in 150 milliseconds.
Rosoboronexport quantifies the improved combat effectiveness offered by the full T-72M1M upgrade as 1.99, against the T-72M1's figure of one and the T-90C's figure of 2.1. This modernisation package has already been presented to several T-72 users and, according to Rosoboronexport, "there are orders coming to us".
Before moving on to other upgrade aspects, mention must again be made of Jordan, but in the context of the Al-Husseins. These are originally Challenger is that were donated by Britain over the past three years. All 288 are candidates for improvement, but although "Cadbee" stands first in line to clench the deal, the money issue will have to be sorted out--not so easy if one remembers that the force heavily depends on American foreign military aid. The very first system that would need to be replaced would be for fire control, while night vision equipment would have to be installed.
Improving First-round Hits
The major development in tank vision improvement has been the addition of night vision systems; either of the Image Intensifying (II) variety, using available light (moonlight or starlight) and optics; or Thermal Imaging (TI) equipment, using infrared techniques (both cooled and uncooled).
It is not within the scope of this article to discuss the various developments in II or TI. Armada will revisit this subject in the near future.
A count of accumulated brochures reveals that there are in excess of 20 major target acquisition systems (principally thermal imagers) available for, or specifically aimed at, the tank retrofit market. A representative selection is presented in Table I.
The information provided by enhanced day/night vision sensors may be an obvious major element of a tank's fire control system, but it is not the whole story. In order for the main gun to hit an identified target, its distance needs to be measured accurately. Thus a fire control system will include a laser rangefinder. Among the leading manufacturers of laser rangefinders are Cilas of France, Zeiss Optronik of Germany, Simrad of Norway, Avimo (now part of Thales) of Great Britain and Raytheon of America. If laser-guided missiles/projectiles are to be used, then laser designators may also be installed, and the range information included in the ballistic calculations. Having once been performed by the gunner with his Mk 1 Mod 0 Brain, this task is now performed in microseconds. Typical of such products are the ballistic computers and mission management systems produced by General Dynamics Canada (formerly Computing Devices Canada) for American M1-series, South Korean K-is and British Challenger 2s.
The ballistic data of the weapon itself may be minutely corrected between shots and a muzzle-reference system may be included. Another element of data of obvious relevance (but rarely written about) is the weather. Thus, meteorological sensors may also be fitted and integrated into a fire control system. Irdam of Switzerland and Britain's Integrated Photomatrix are among suppliers of such systems.
The relatively recent introduction of battlefield management or information systems, instanced by the French Finders from Giat, provides a further level of sophistication available for inclusion in a tank. The Finders was installed from the outset on the Leclercs delivered to the United Arab Emirates while the French version called Icone is now being retrofitted to the French Army Leclercs. Yet another version called Sit has been adopted by the French service for its lighter vehicles. Likewise, the US Army is now introducing the C4ISar (Command, Control, Communications, Computing, Intelligence, Surveillance And Reconnaissance) type of system into its armoured formations.
With so much apparently esoteric information being programmed into the computer software, one begins to appreciate the complexity of a modern tank fire control system. However, manufacturers are doing their utmost to ensure that a maximum amount of data is digested, formatted and categorised before being displayed. As of late, some systems are being developed with specific retrofits in mind with form-fit units that can be `dropped-in' to replace the existing systems; others are so modular that they can be easily adapted to a variety of vehicles (see Table II).
Mention was made above of the Ruag 120 compact gun which was to have been installed on the next-generation Swiss tank had the programme not been cancelled in favour of the Leo 2. There was also a recent adaptation of the Abrams turret as a proposal to upgrade Turkey's M60s. About two years ago, Giat also carried out preliminary work to offer a version of its Leclerc turret for older hulls like the M60 or T-72. According to latest news, Giat will go into deeper development should serious interest materialise into a partnership.
One trend in up-gunning has focussed on the replacement of Soviet/Chinese 100 mm, 115 mm and 125 mm weapons with Western weapons of 105 mm and 120 mm calibres. The Ukraine has developed its own 120 mm Nato-standard gun for the T-72, and Russia is promoting its improved 125 mm weapons on upgrades of its own tanks.
The other Western trend is the replacement of older 105 mm guns by either improved 105mm rifled or 120 mm smoothbore weapons. Jordan's AB9B1/M60 upgrade is one such example and the adoption by Turkey of the Israel Military Industries (IMI) M60 Sabra upgrade, including the IMI MG251 weapon, is another. In Germany, Rheinmetall has developed a longer-barrelled 120 mm smoothbore gun--the L55--which, when fitted, results in a Leopard 2A5 (with the L44 gun) becoming a Leopard 2A6 tank. Adopted by Germany, the upgrade has been sold to the Netherlands and the Spanish Army is having its new-build Leopards delivered as 2A6 vehicles with this gun.
In some upgrade cases it is found desirable to replace the turret hydraulic drives with electromechanical devices. Firms like Curtiss-Wright in Switzerland can provide all manner of computer-controlled actuators to cater to most needs in that respect.
Ammunition development for tank guns (another article within this issue) continues with a variety of aims such as reducing barrel wear, increased propellant and new penetrators or warheads. Where practical, adoption of autoloaders in tank retrofits is possible.
Threats and Countermeasures
The use of turret-mounted grenade launchers to deploy a masking cloak of thick smoke has long been a feature of a tank's evasive manoeuvres. Today such systems are but one element of self-defence that a tank can deploy.
Nowadays a user can buy an integrated defensive aids suite to install on his vehicles.
A typical example is the French KBCM, developed in association with Sagem and Eads, with Giat as the systems integrator. It can be tailored to a customer's specific vehicle and requirements with the following basic elements:
* a man/machine interface and central processing unit coupled to the existing vehicle's combat system and databus, to display the threat and recommend the appropriate countermeasure
* a missile launch detector
* three laser warning detectors (Israel's LWS-2 system from Amcoram having been selected for prototype use) giving full 360[degrees] coverage of the vehicle
* an infrared jammer(s) and
* the Giat-Lacroix Galix visual and IR band screening system.
This may be used in manual, semiautomatic or fully automatic modes; the latter allowing the system to engage or defeat the targets that pose the greatest threat to the vehicle. It is also possible to integrate the KBCM with a battlefield management system (such as the Finders mentioned above) to enhance co-ordinated protection of an entire armoured unit.
Other complete defensive aids suites include the Arpam system from Israel Military Industries and, from Russia, the Shtora-1 missile jamming defence system from Zenit, the Drozd and Drozd-2 protection systems from KPB, and the Arena active defence system from KBM. Upon detecting an incoming object, the Arena fires a warhead in its direction and destroys it only a few yards away from the tank.
Threat warning systems are more numerous and are available from manufacturers worldwide. Representative examples include the Colds from Eads, the Third Eye laser warner from Moked of Israel, the WPL-1 Bobrawa laser warner from PCO of Poland, the Lird-1/1A irradiation detector/warner from Fotana of Slovenia and the LWD 2 laser warner from Avimo (now Thales).
Among the jammers available for tank use are the AN/VLQ-6 from Lockheed Martin Electro-Optical Systems, the AN/VLQ-8A from Esterline, the Majic-1 from IMI and the Eirel from Matra Defense Equipment & Systemes (formerly CS Defense).
Goodrich in the United States also offers a range of detection systems for tanks, amongst which are the AN/ VVR-1 laser warning receiver and the AN/VVR-2 laser detector. The former actually provides information on the nature of the threat, such as whether it is a laser rangefinder, a designator of beam-rider missile guidance signal, and of course origin, with an accuracy of + or - 1[degree]. The suite, comprising four sensors, offers 360[degrees] coverage. The AN/ VVR-2, on the other hand, is a five-facet single-unit "tower" that provides the same area coverage.
Grenade dischargers of various calibres (66 mm, 76 mm and 80 mm being common) can be used to launch traditional smoke or the more-sophisticated concoctions devised to block infrared guidance beams. Mention has already been made of the French 80 mm Galix, while Krauss-Maffei Wegmann offers a 76 mm grenade launcher system, IMI its Pomals, Rheinmetall the Maske and Thales its 66 mm multipurpose grenade discharger, among others.
Table I: Target Acquisition Systems (representative) Product Manufacturer FoV [Country] [degrees] Mk 72 thermal obs OIP Sensor Systems N = 1.7 x 4 system for T-72 [Belgium] W = 5.1 x 12 BDIN 3 commander's Melopa Day = 10 passive day/night [Bulgaria] Night = 12 obs device for T-72 Savan-15 gunner's Sagem n/a stabilised sight [France] Catherine-FC thermal Thales Optronique N = 332.25 imager for FCS--Gen2 [France] W = 936.75 Z = 1.5 x 1.2 Ophelios thermal Zeiss Optronik N = 2.733.5 imager Gen2 [Germany] W = 9312 Z = 3.6 x 4.8 to 22.6 x 30.6 Stand-Alone Thermal Elbit/Elop N = 332 Elbow Sight (Sates) [Israel] W = 10.5 x 7 for T-series tanks VIRS-7 thermal imager Alenia N = 4 x 1.7 with type 1 telescope [Italy] Thetis thermal tank Galileo Avionica N = 3.2 x 2.4 IR system [Italy] W = 8 x 6 Thermal gunner's sights Atcop N = 4 x 2 for T-series tanks [Pakistan] W = 12 x 6 TPN-1P passive night PCO 7 for T-55/72 (Poland] Booklet gunner's multi- JSC Peleng N = 3 x 2.15 channel sight [Russia] W = 9 x 7.5 Z = 1.5 x 1.2 Tigs thermal imaging Fotona N = 3.4 x 2 gunner's sight [Slovenia] W = 9.2 x 5.4 GS-60 primary Eloptro/Denel N = 3 x 2.25 gunner sight [South Africa] W = 9 x 6.75 Tank thermal sensor BAE Systems x 10mag = 6 x 4 Avionics [Britain] x 5mag = 12 x 8 SGTS Gen2 tank sight Raytheon N = 2.5 x 3.3 [United States] W = 7.5 x 10 Product Range Waveband [km] [microns] Mk 72 thermal obs ID = 1.5 7.5 to 12 system for T-72 Rec = 3.3 Det = 7.6 BDIN 3 commander's Star = 0.9 II - Gen2 passive day/night Moon = 1.8 obs device for T-72 SavSan-15 gunner's n/a 8 to 12 stabilised sight Catherine-FC thermal n/a 8 to 12 imager for FCS--Gen2 Ophelios thermal n/a 7.5 to 10.5 imager Gen2 Stand-Alone Thermal n/a 8 to 12 Elbow Sight (Sates) for T-series tanks VIRS-7 thermal imager Det = 6.5 8 to 12 with type 1 telescope Rec = 2.5 Thetis thermal tank n/a 7.5 to 10.5 IR system Thermal gunner's sights n/a 8 to 14 for T-series tanks TPN-1P passive night n/a II/Gen2+sight/ for T-55/72 SuperGen Booklet gunner's multi- n/a 8 to 12 channel sight Tigs thermal imaging <6 8 to 12 gunner's sight GS-60 primary n/a 8 to 12 gunner sight Tank thermal sensor n/a 8 to 13 SGTS Gen2 tank sight n/a 8 to 12 Notes: II = image intensifier, FoV = Field of View, N = narrow, W = wide, Z = zoom, mag = magnification ID = identification, det = detection, rec = recognition n/a = not available Table II: Fire Control Systems (representative) Product Manufacturer Components Provided (Country) Night Laser Vision RF T-CAS FCS for T-72 Thales Optronique TI existing [France] FLP-10/Emes 18 Tank STN Atlas TI yes FCS for Leopard 1 [Germany] Molf for T-series, STN Atlas no yes M48, M60 & AMX-30 [Germany] Sanoet-2 IFCS for T-72 Sagem (France) with TI existing UKBTM-Nizhny Tagil and Peleng-Belomo [Russia] Knight-series tank FCS Elbit Systems TI existing [Israel] Turms FCS for T-72 Galileo Avionica TI optional [Italy] EFCS-3 family for Fotona II yes T-series tanks [Slovenia] Tiger NGFCS for T-72 LIW/Denel TI yes [South Africa] T-55 tank thermal Kearfott TI yes sight FCS [United States] IFCS (as used on Raytheon TI yes Jordan's AB9B1/M60) [United States] Suv-T55A FCS Rudi Cajavec II * yes [former Yugoslavia] Product Components Provided Ball. Met comp. sensor T-CAS FCS for T-72 yes existing FLP-10/Emes 18 Tank yes existing FCS for Leopard 1 Molf for T-series, yes existing M48, M60 & AMX-30 Sanoet-2 IFCS for T-72 yes existing Knight-series tank FCS yes existing Turms FCS for T-72 yes yes EFCS-3 family for yes yes T-series tanks Tiger NGFCS for T-72 yes no T-55 tank thermal yes yes sight FCS IFCS (as used on yes no Jordan's AB9B1/M60) Suv-T55A FCS yes yes Notes: RF = Rangefinder, Met = Meteorology, Ball. Comp. = Ballistic Computer TI = Thermal Imaging, II = Image intensification, * = TI optional Table III: Guns (representative) Weapon Manuf. Length Weight [Country] [metre] [kg] 120 mm gun for Norinco 6 2600 Type 59 & T-54/55 [China] 115 mm gun Abu Zaabal 5.7 1080 for T-62 [Egypt] 120 mm F1 gun Giat 6.2 2800 [France] 120 mm L55 gun Rheinmetall 6.6 1347 [Germany] 120 mm L44 gun Rheinmetall 5.3 1190 [Germany] 105 mm up-gun Ordnance Factory 5.58 1287 for T-54/55 (based Kanpur [India] on UK L7 gun) 120 mm MG251 Israel Military 5.56 3300 for M60 upgrade Industries (w/mount) [Israel] 125 mm D-81TM Motovilikha 6 2500 (2A46) gun for Plants Corp. T-72/-80/-90 [Russia] 105 mm GT 3 LIW/Denel 5.4 2930 tank gun [South Africa] 120 mm Compact Ruag Land Systems 6 2600 tank gun [Switzerland] 125 mm tank gun State Scientific and 6 n/a Vitiaz (prototype) Technical Centre [Ukraine] 120 mm State Scientific and n/a n/a tank gun Technical Centre [Ukraine] 120 mm L11 BAE Systems RO 6.6 1728 tank gun [Britain] 105 mm improved BAE Systems RO 6.66 1334 weapon system [Britain] 120 mm M256 Watervliet Arsenal 5.63 1901 tank gun [United States] Weapon Bore RoF Range [rds/min] [km] 120 mm gun for smooth n/a n/a Type 59 & T.54/55 115 mm gun smooth 4-5 4.8 for T-62 120 mm F1 gun smooth n/a n/a 120 mm L55 gun smooth n/a n/a 120 mm L44 gun smooth n/a 3.5 105 mm up-gun rifled n/a 4.0 for T-54/55 (based on UK L7 gun) 120 mm MG251 smooth n/a n/a for M60 upgrade 125 mm D-81TM smooth n/a 4.0 (2A46) gun for T-72/-80/-90 105 mm GT 3 rifled n/a n/a tank gun 120 mm Compact smooth n/a n/a tank gun 125 mm tank gun smooth n/a n/a Vitiaz (prototype) 120 mm smooth n/a n/a tank gun 120 mm L11 rifled n/a 8.0 tank gun 105 mm improved rifled n/a n/a weapon system 120 mm M256 smooth n/a n/a tank gun Note: n/a = information not available, RoF = Rate of Fire