Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
db_zero

Tanks A Thing Of The Past?

Recommended Posts

Like everyone here I'm anxiously waiting for Black Sea to come out. Personally I think the chance of the Western Powers getting involved in this sort of conflict is next to none.

I've also been reading articles that have pretty much called the tank a relic from the past and are saying the drone and man portable AT systems renders tanks obsolete. Its also being argued that warfare is moving to an asymmetric model where lighter, faster deployable forces is the future of warfare and the tank has no place in that sort of environment.

In short the tank is moving in the same direction as the battleship. A soon to be relic of the past that will soon be relegated to the museum.

Personally I think it’s overblown and it’s nothing new. After the Viet-Nam war during the 70's the 73 Arab-Israeli War was analyzed in great detail and some were saying the new generation of AT missiles and portable AT weapons would render tanks irrelevant and far too vulnerable to be useful. The debate raged on. Some said the early tactics used by the Israelis skewed things and later in the war when they adjusted and employed proper combined arms tactics you got a more balanced picture. In any event the Israelis maintained the cannon on tanks were the best weapon to mount on a tank.

In the West a few tanks were produced that had main guns that could fire both normal cannon shells as well as guided missiles. This soon disappeared.

I also remember reading articles about something called Chobbam armor in the 70's. There were also stories about how the East Germans managed to steal samples and bring back to the Soviet Union!

So here we are in 2014 and once again articles written about how the tank is obsolete. Stories about how Hezbollah had success against Merkavas using the latest generation of man pads, the vulnerability of Syrian tanks to infantry weapons it its civil war, the rise of drone warfare as well as the expense of tanks in an age of budget cuts and asymmetric warfare many are questioning the tank relevance.

Personally I still think the tank is very useful. There is a saying to the effect that there is a tendency to fight the last war, not the next one. If you said during the 70's and 80's the Soviet Union would collapse and the Western Powers would fight large scale tank battles in Iraq you would not have been taken too seriously. Today some experts have given their reason as to why the tank is no longer dominant, but predicting the future is risky business.

So while we're waiting for Black Sea to come out, perhaps we're looking at something that will never happen again-large scale tank on tank action, or perhaps armored warfare as we know it will evolve and like Star Trek during the 60's and 70's when the communicator was just science fiction, but eventually evolved into the cell phone/smart phone as we know it, perhaps the future of armored warfare will evolve into something like the popular MechWarrior series.

One thing that will be interesting is to try out a custom Black Sea battle where a tank force takes on an infantry centric force armed to the teeth with man pads and other modern anti tank weaponry and see how it all plays out. During the 73 Arab-Israeli war the Arabs employed specialized anti tank commando teams and used them to ambush tank centric Israeli units.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh heh. I recall back in 1950 the Secretary of Defense (I think) gave a big speech at West Point announcing *the end of the tank* as a combat weapon to be replace by the newly formed Air Force dropping A-bombs on the enemy. Within a week of that speech North Korea invades South Korea. Oops! Bad timing! Within a couple months the first 'Questionmark' conference planning the future of the tank fleet was held and a few months after that the first designs for the future M48 MBT would be submitted. The rest is history. So the demise of the tank has been predicted many many times. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

while I too still think tanks are important I do not think they are what some claimed, kings of the battlefield.Plus atgms are becoming more dangerous to armor and a large scale armor battles are thing of the past. In the case of the combat mission series especially shockforce and afganistan I use tanks to support infantry and destroy enemy fortifications.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
while I too still think tanks are important I do not think they are what some claimed, kings of the battlefield.Plus atgms are becoming more dangerous to armor and a large scale armor battles are thing of the past. In the case of the combat mission series especially shockforce and afganistan I use tanks to support infantry and destroy enemy fortifications.

When you mention large scale tank battles are a thing of the past do you mean WW2 sized tank battles or something like 73 Easting- or Arab-Israeli 67/73 style battles.

If that is the case then would it make sense to re-org and center around vehicles like the Stryker and de-emphasize tracked fighting vehicles?

I still think that while unlikely a good sized tank battle could take place somewhere in Asia. Perhaps in the future in Africa. There are some materials that are in abundance in Africa. From what I understand the engine cores in F-15s are made of cobalt and you can't find that in abundance except for a few places like in Africa.

As mentioned China is active there and who knows they may someday sign an agreement to pre-position stuff there. Of course this is highly speculative.

Who knows with superconductivity levitating tanks like the ones in the old classic Orge/GEV may someday be here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

db_zero,

My initial reaction upon reading your lead was (cringe) "Here we go again." Though people keep pronouncing its death knell, the tank refuses to die as a weapon system. It remains useful at all levels from ancient T-34/85s and T-55s up through the latest and the greatest. The latest generation tank has firepower and sensors, ability to effectively fire on the move and survivability through both hit avoidance and hit resistance, all unparalleled in tank history. Features vary from tank to tank, from nation to nation, but the tank remains a fearsome beast, a tracked terror, which can take a lot of effort and resources to counter. Given their enormous costs and other issues, I doubt we'll ever (pretty much guarantees it'll happen) see tank warfare waged on anything like the scale seen in prior wars.

In the Yom Kippur War, the IDF's 190th Armored Brigade made a pure armor attack against an Egyptian force having the deadly SAGGER and RPG, but which had twice as many as TO&E because a second set was had by stripping them out of a second echelon army not yet across the Suez Canal. This was what led to another death knell for the tank. A major one. But when the Israelis realized their mistake, they conducted coordinated, properly supported attacks and used all available means, to include launch detection and prompt counterfire, to successfully unhinge the ATGM defense and the usual measures to deal with RPG teams. Contrary to what most military enthusiasts and pros believe, this wasn't the first time the IDF had come under ATGM fire. Facing small numbers of the 3M6 Schmel/AT-1 SNAPPER in the 1967 War and thereafter during the War of Attrition, Israel suffered how badly?

"While a few were used by Egyptian forces during the 1967 Six-Day War and attrition War from 1969, only one tank loss was attributed to the system. The system's hit probability is estimated to have been 25% in combat."

Since the loss was minor, the IDF failed to read the tea leaves correctly and suffered terribly when facing the far more accurate, lethal and long legged 9M14/AT-3 SAGGER in the Yom Kippur War.

Chobham was a revolutionary, highly classified composite armor developed by the British, and its secrets were stolen by Chancellor Willy Brandt's close aide, Günter Guillame, who was a long time Stasi agent in place. The resulting scandal forced Brandt from office and out of politics. MANPADS, unless talking about some fairly exotic tech, is for air defense. Man Portable Air Defense System. The terms "MANPATS" and "MPATS" are the ones you need and, in light of this discussion, are self-explanatory.

As for your invoking OGRE and GEVS, you beat me to it. But the real inspiration for the OGRE came from Laumer's Bolo books.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolo_(tank)

Regards,

John Kettler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think having a high-firepower mobile weapons platform that has a reasonable chance of surviving at least one frontal attack will have a place on the battlefield for quite awhile. As John just pointed out, when used effectively, the time "buffer zone" created by that extra survivability can be the key to victory.

All the whizbang gadgets in the world may not help you if you don't have any vehicles that can survive at least one serious frontal punch, thereby giving you the time to respond with the information on enemy positions you just gained.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the past dozen years or more Pentagon planners had tried to make a 'tanks a thing of the past' approach with lighter smaller vehicles relying (somehow) on integrated information technology to make up the shortfall. Then they'd wargame their new designs in mock engagements and get their pants kicked. I have a vague (unsure)recollection there were actually complaints that the virtual opposing force was 'cheating' by - basically - refusing to be idiots. If our opponents were idiots we'd do great! You may see a bit of this in CMBS. When the Russian ECM gets tuned up to max our reliance on wiz-bang Buck Rogers integrated technology goes out the window.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing to consider about all the high tech equipment we have - no longer is the mechanic with a wrench, lathe and welding torch able to repair the knocked out tank that just came from the battlefield. A piece of shrapnel through a sensor head could results in days or weeks of downtime till it's replaced by factories on the home front. No military is ready for the logistical requirements of sustaining a modern, high tech fighting force in a fast paced high intensity conflict. Thermally guided, top down attack missile systems have a lot more complicated parts then a missile you guide through an optical scope with a wire and joystick. Active defense systems are cool until the first artillery strike knocks out your fragile radars. And integrated digital systems are amazing until suddenly your vehicle's system stops booting up and you need someone with a college degree in computing just to tell you why. Modern systems have great capabilities that look amazing in powerpoint presentations, but don't always take into account the friction of the battlefield and its effects. Sometimes you just need a tank with thick armor and a big ole gun on it that you know works even if your computer systems go down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

I agree that the tank is here for the foreseeable future.

There is now an arms race between Active Protection Systems and counter measures to them on AT systems. In addition to the usual conventional/Chobham/ERA armour v HEAT round arms race. But nothing really new about that.

CMBS will be fascinating. I have not thought about conventional clashes for years but globally we are now truly back to normal competition between nation states so very timely.

All the best,

Kip.

PS As it happens the Russians have the first generation APS covered with the RPG 30/32 and the Kornet-D. I am sure you will see them soon in BS. Just Google them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How easy is it to destroy a helicopter or a plane on a modern battlefield? Very. So, why do we still make use of helicopters and planes? Because they still have their uses in certain situations. The exact same thing can be said about the tank.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"So while we're waiting for Black Sea to come out, perhaps we're looking at something that will never happen again-large scale tank on tank action, or perhaps armored warfare as we know it will evolve and like Star Trek during the 60's and 70's when the communicator was just science fiction, but eventually evolved into the cell phone/smart phone as we know it, perhaps the future of armored warfare will evolve into something like the popular MechWarrior series. "

Eighteen months ago very few people thought their would be a medium sized, more or less modern, mechanized war going on in Southern Ukraine. However they seem to be hard at, at least intermittently. Predictions of world peace seem optimistic.

In regards to the mechwarrior idea, armored fighting vehicles are shaped the way they are because of surface to volume ratios. The way to get the most armor around the most usable volume is a cube more or less. You never wind up with a true cube for various other engineering considerations, but that the general idea. This basic law is NOT friendly to humanoid shapes. The ratio is VERY unfriendly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little dated, but people forget that the Battle of Medina Ridge in Desert Storm was the second largest armor on armor fight in history, surpassed only by Kursk. 73 Easting was the lead up to that fight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder how long they will put actual people in those tanks. Remote control, semi- of fully autonomous are technically feasible (or will be eventually) and are (probably) cheaper. Both in costs of money and lives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This discussion makes me wonder what (in CMBS) a heavy mechanized force can actually do against an enemy with a large number of Hellfire-carrying drones. Can tanks and supporting infantry bring down a flying drone? What happens when a swarm of thirty or so drones takes to the sky above a mechanized battalion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder how long they will put actual people in those tanks. Remote control, semi- of fully autonomous are technically feasible (or will be eventually) and are (probably) cheaper. Both in costs of money and lives.

This is probably where things are headed if you ask me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"So while we're waiting for Black Sea to come out, perhaps we're looking at something that will never happen again-large scale tank on tank action, or perhaps armored warfare as we know it will evolve and like Star Trek during the 60's and 70's when the communicator was just science fiction, but eventually evolved into the cell phone/smart phone as we know it, perhaps the future of armored warfare will evolve into something like the popular MechWarrior series. "

Eighteen months ago very few people thought their would be a medium sized, more or less modern, mechanized war going on in Southern Ukraine. However they seem to be hard at, at least intermittently. Predictions of world peace seem optimistic.

In regards to the mechwarrior idea, armored fighting vehicles are shaped the way they are because of surface to volume ratios. The way to get the most armor around the most usable volume is a cube more or less. You never wind up with a true cube for various other engineering considerations, but that the general idea. This basic law is NOT friendly to humanoid shapes. The ratio is VERY unfriendly.

True, but with the advances in metals you could see some new exotic smart metal that is very strong and very light. Beside if you ask me man will never be completely satisfied with machines vs machines warfare. man will want to be in it and not 10,000 miles away via communications link.

Drones is not a new idea. They were used in Viet-Nam. For the longest time they were resisted. Many insiders as well as outsiders mentioned the "fighter mafia" who resisted the whole idea of taking man out of the loop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tanks definately will stay on the battlefield. They will change, and those new tanks might not be comparable to the current generation, but the concept of "put armour arround a big gun and a big engine" will probably stay alive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tanks will remain as a viable weapons system until they field the first battle mechs.

Don't laugh too hard but militaries have considered such but technology isn't there yet. As for surface to volume ratios, that has never stopped innovators and thinkers from trying to 'cheat' around such concerns. That is how jumps in technology and science occur.

Also because we can all use a little 'giant armed and armored robot' love... :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A little dated, but people forget that the Battle of Medina Ridge in Desert Storm was the second largest armor on armor fight in history, surpassed only by Kursk. 73 Easting was the lead up to that fight.

After the war these battles were analyzed to death. The Pentagon even digitized the battle. Some including those who took part said that was probably the last time you'll see an armored battle of that size.

Drones played a role back then, but not nearly a big a role as today. Computers were still in the DOS world and if you had a 486 processor you were on the cutting edge and $2000+ poorer.

Still tanks are not going away. Just like cavalry stuck around long after Agincourt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This discussion makes me wonder what (in CMBS) a heavy mechanized force can actually do against an enemy with a large number of Hellfire-carrying drones. Can tanks and supporting infantry bring down a flying drone? What happens when a swarm of thirty or so drones takes to the sky above a mechanized battalion?

This brings up an interesting side note. The ADA branch seems to be the lonely stepchild in the Army. How useful is anti air when fighting insurgents?

With the proliferation of drones the ADA may someday become sexy again.

I'm predicting this is the future of ADA weapons:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2743272/Is-bird-Is-plane-No-s-ROBIRD-Robotic-falcons-eagles-mimic-real-predators-pests-away-airports-farms.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Until the technology is available to make UAVs completely autonomous, the need to have operators controlling them using the Tactical Control System or something similar, will IMO limit the mass use of UAVs in the combat role. Even thirty drones would require thirty operators, a large telemetry network and support. I dont think we are at that stage just yet.

Examine the debacle of the Apache Helicopter attack near Karbala, Iraq in 2003. At the time the Apache was billed as a killer of armor, it too carried Hellfire missles, but unlike a drone was obviously a manned system. 30 Apaches of the 11th Regiment of the 3rdID went enmass looking for the Medina Division. Iraqis using cell phones to signal the course of the choppers, and infantry men on building roofs put bullet holes in practically every Apache involved in the attack, turning on lights to confuse NV systems. (The US left the power grid intact so as not to punish Iraqi civilians). The attack was called off and the Apaches returned to base.

Now while technology is very sexy, and UAVs seem to be the answer to everything, they are still controlled by humans, who are prone to making mistakes. The tank still has a place on the modern battlefield, and IMO a drone is no more dangerous than an Attack helicopter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lasers are going to be the drone swatter of choice very soon. The power levels are already there more or less. Something the size of a glorified model airplane can't take a lot of energy, and a laser system may be expensive up front, but the cost per shot is trivial. The laser may not be all that useful for anything else, but if drones are a big enough problem that doesn't really matter.

The real airplane sized stuff is the air forces problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The tech is moving fast, and there's a lot to speculate about.

But I'm actually wondering how it works in CMBS as I haven't seen any mention of anti-drone measures in the previews. What counters drones in the game?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Drones are countered by any kind of AA on the field.

I think that the "Electronic Warfare" option will also impact the use of drones.

Too bad we won't be able to see drones hovering around and AA swatting them down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...