Defence Q&A Which is superior? Russian tanks or NATO tanks?

Tonyukuk

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I just noticed this new section so I thought I'd ask the first question.

As we know, the west leads in many areas, especially when it comes to air assets... But one strange thing which stands out is that Russian tanks are lighter, all have autoloaders and in general the armor design APPEARS better. But how do the two actually compare? Let's use the T-14 against the best western tanks in this to make a fair comparison, thanks.
 

Yasar_TR

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Russian armour beat superior German ones in WW2. But that was another century.
Since then they have not been very successfully against US, UK and Israeli armour.
On paper specifications, are not a good sign of superiority. It is how you use the tanks and what you use against them that matters.
Contemporary tanks are very different in the way they are built and in the way they are deployed in modern battlefield. They are still a “must have” of any battlefield. But can not operate like the tanks of last century.
Before deciding which tank is better, one has to define air superiority, ATGM usage and where the tanks will be operated.
Turkish UCAVs are pushing battlefield strategists to re-write all their tank battle plans from scratch.
In gulf wars US helicopters decimated Iraqi operated Russian Tanks. This will not happen that easily anymore. A10s did the same to the tanks and armoured vehicles on the ground. Ground based AD systems will be more actively and efficiently used in the next encounter.
So it is not a black and white response that can be given to above thread question.
 

Ecderha

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Those who has numbers and air
I agree russian use same tactic since WW2 "Numbers". russians does not able to make better product. So they make numbers of products with "at current state of time when product is developed".
After ussr fall most or almost all of the resources where lost by invaded countries from russian occupation army.
I am talking about Tech, Raw resources, Products, country releated engineers, people buying only russian product beacuse other were forbiden.
And the most mojer thing komunists back then made plans that this or that have to be developed by engineers if this was not done they just kill them or send them on Camps of death.

What is left at moment are those old tech junks with lot of already produces numbers.
Other thing is that YES they build "psudo" new products, BUT later on when product is examin it is become "Obvious" that old junk with small change or OLD western tech stolen from russian agents and presented as NEW product (for russian it may look like new product).

Example: car Lada old junk which is still presented as uptodate car
 

RogerRanger

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Its evident from the design and doctrine that Russian tanks are more offensive in nature, fighter, faster, auto-loaders. So for that the American and British tanks are defensive, heavier, slower, bigger overall. Both types are very complex and difficult to build, as well as expensive and very good senors and defensive measures. So I would say like always in these debates, it depends what you want the tank to do.

The real question for me is who has the better doctrine, the Americans or the Russians. The Americans being defensive and the Russians aggressive. Then who has the best tankers for their own doctrine. Its the same with aircraft, the Russians have a different doctrine of defensive and the Americans offensive. So its interesting conversation.

I like the Russians tankers because they are smaller with an auto loader, but the armour protection isn't as good. However that is less important for offensive warfare. I think there is little different in build numbers from the American-British-German-French-Israeli-Russia tanks. And in WW2 that is what was the different. There isn't one of them where you can say, yes this is cheap/simple and can be built in strategically dominant numbers. Like say the T-34 or Sherman was. Or the later production Russian tanks.

So that is what I would like to see, a simply/cheap highly capable tank that can be produced in huge numbers.
 

RogerRanger

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Its like German Tiger vs Russian T-34 ....
The Tiger was clearly better tank.

I think the issue today is that none of the tanks are 'better' than each other. They are all similar. Same as the Centurion was clearly the best tank in the world for a while and then the Abrams. Now its all basically even.
 

Cabatli_TR

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Russian tank design philosophy
  • Lighter weight, light armored against NATO tanks
  • Auto-loader is important for Russian concept
  • Good mobility for offensive tactics
  • Bigger caliber guns, less munition storage capacity, stronger damage capability but poor accuracy
  • Inferior optics and shorter detection range
  • Cheaper to be produced in large numbers
NATO tank design philosophy
  • Heavier, heavy armed castles
  • +1 crewman for loader in most of NATO tanks
  • Poor mobility but strong defensive tanks
  • Smaller calibre main guns 120mm standard with better quality munitions. More munition storage capacity and better accuracy at longer ranges
  • Last generation optics and better detection ranges
  • Much more expensive than Russian tanks
Russian tanks are better with offensive operations and maintaining a long-fast attacks. NATO tanks are better in areas on the defense and maintaining high rate of fire with pin point accuracy.
 

Azeri441

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Russian tank design philosophy
  • Lighter weight, light armored against NATO tanks
  • Auto-loader is important for Russian concept
  • Good mobility for offensive tactics
  • Bigger caliber guns, less munition storage capacity, stronger damage capability but poor accuracy
  • Inferior optics and shorter detection range
  • Cheaper to be produced in large numbers
NATO tank design philosophy
  • Heavier, heavy armed castles
  • +1 crewman for loader in most of NATO tanks
  • Poor mobility but strong defensive tanks
  • Smaller calibre main guns 120mm standard with better quality munitions. More munition storage capacity and better accuracy at longer ranges
  • Last generation optics and better detection ranges
  • Much more expensive than Russian tanks
Russian tanks are better with offensive operations and maintaining a long-fast attacks. NATO tanks are better in areas on the defense and maintaining high rate of fire with pin point accuracy.

Not true, latest Russian tanks such as T-90S, T-90M and Armata have better protection than NATO tanks, T-90M and Armata also have third generation optics same as Western tanks

Leopardo2E_armour.jpg
image.png.e96d0050f590533d099a333a18e06104.png
700px-T90armour.jpg
 

Ryder

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Both have their strengths and weaknesses but when it comes to technology the Russians are behind compared to the West/NATO tanks.

Russians even had to use French imaging and thermals for their tanks after failing decades to get it right.

Technology is what could leave Russian tanks behind the T14 Armata could perhaps become the equaliser to a lot of NATO tanks but we just have to see.

Russia has a lot of T72 and T90s and its pretty expensive to replace them all with T14s as it is cheaper to modernise them all rather than decommissioning them all.

Russians know how to gather their strengths in numbers and they how to mass produce.

When it comes to warfare, numbers play an important role in keeping the fight going.
 
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Gary

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I'm not a tank expert but I try to answer as neutral as possible without the fanboyism attached.

So when it comes to tanks, there are 4 main parameters to determine a tank capability, those are:
  1. Firepower
  2. Protection
  3. Mobility
  4. Crew comfort
NATO and the Warsaw Pact differ in their design philosophy when it comes to design, this off course because they had a different doctrine on the use of tanks in the battlefield. Manufacturers design their tanks based on the criterion the army gave them which based on how they intended to deploy the design itself.

A. Firepower

NATO and Warsaw Pact differ in their methods of delivering projectile. Both uses APFSDS (KE) for anti armor role and HEAT (CE) for dual anti-armor/personell/fortification role. However NATO emphasis the use of single piece ammunition while Russia opted for the use of dual piece ammunition.

here's what a typical NATO APFSDS rounds look like.
m02006120800210.jpg


while here's what a typical Russian APFSDS looks like (ammo and sabot are separated)
20eb925188b71621010a4d12c1a5a6c9.png


that's because NATO put an emphasis on manual loaders while Russia put an emphasis on auto loader because Russia prefers smaller tanks which means the Russian ammo will have to be compact enough to fit inside in a acceptable numbers. This is not surprising because even Russia put a limit on their tanker crew body size, Russian tanks are very very compact.

As armor develops, so it necessitate a longer rod, for example the DM63A1 rod are as long as 685mm and the latest US M829A4 the "silver bullet' are reportedly as long as 790mm.

the current most potent Russian dart penetrator are the Svinets 2 APFSDS at 740mm penetrator length.

issues with the use of APFSDS for KE rounds means that most of modern army uses smoothbore rounds which allowed for greater pressure in the barrel of the guns, with the odd exception of the Royal Army, everyone has left the rifled barrel since the T-62 came in the 60s.

The most powerful of all NATO guns are reportedly the 120mm Rhenimetall RH120 gun which comes in two size at 44 calibers length (L44) and 55 calibers length (L55). Calibers here means that you multiply the diameter of the round to the barrel length. That means a L44 gun has an approx length of 44x120mm or 5280mm.

For Russia with their 152mm rounds they go with the 2A62M with 52 calibers length, L52.

the longer the barrel the longer the penetrators go. Armies would usually go for the longer calibers gun, with some exception, notably the US Army which retains the shorter M253 gun derived from the RH120 L44, because their ammo, the silver bullet M829 uses more powerful materials for the penetrator using depleted uranium (DU) instead of the weaker tungsten rounds found in many NATO tanks.

the Svinets 1/2 are reportedly a DU round.

Noting earlier the difference in ammo storage and reloading configuration, next we're talking about the survivability of the tanks


2. Protection

NATO tanks are generally larger than that of the Russians, and by quite a margin as this pic will show.
mtwtamct1t821.jpg

source Reddit

That's because NATO as earlier noted, usually uses manually operated loader and that necessitate a room for an extra person in turret. Depending on the skills of the loader, a NATO tanks could deliver a more rapid volley of fire although it will be decreased through time by the human limit such as exhaustion.

here's what a NATO tanks loader look like

while here's a typical Russian revolver auto loader look like
ETUyUBgX0AAiz73.jpg

source






and that from my own observation clearly favors NATO tanks, anyone can correct me on this one.

In a Russian tank the crew is literally sitting on top of an explosive, yes you have hundreds of Kgs of potentially exploding material right under you a**. When a penetration occurs and sparks lit from such penetration, it will instantly trigger the ammo below exploding. As a result the turret will turn into a spectacularly tragic jack in the box.

Hence why we all saw images like this all over the internet.

174118_original.jpg


while NATO tanks store it's ammo separately in the back of the turret and uses what is called a blow out panel

4WBI00M-MSHMv_I3BIgZ6JnSZ3H5BtRqYNSzGyjvXWRPKM-HiFYGph9t7dt5slNBW04krqlw0GGXc8ZpgrXAGKclDiXFzCLHOTQWzBLcFQ59XfaHLBuy_GhvoLXm9ZjthfIVehY


one such incident proving the exceptional use of blow out panel is the Abrams operated by the Iraqi army against ISIS in 2015,


you could see that the tank exploded but the crew are safe (except for maybe burns and some scratch), but they're alive.



to be continued.....
 
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Ryder

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The Tiger was clearly better tank.

I think the issue today is that none of the tanks are 'better' than each other. They are all similar. Same as the Centurion was clearly the best tank in the world for a while and then the Abrams. Now its all basically even.

The Tiger Tank was plagued with reliability issues.

Despite being a strong and a formidable tank it was unreliable also a complex one too while being expensive.

T34s easily overwhelmed the Tiger the Tank. Ww2 was not just a war of weapons who was the best technologically it was also a war of mass production who can produce and churn out the most weapons.
 

500

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I will debunk several myths, then will write more detalized:

Myth #1. Russian tanks are lighter this less armored than Western. In fact usually Russian tanks had better armor despite their weight (that advantage was usually compensated by better Western guns and ammo though).

Myth #2. Auto loader makes tank very vulnerable and exploding. In fact autoloader is located low and covered by steel plate. The chances of it being hit are very low. The main problem of Russian tanks are rounds and fuel tanks outside the autoloader.

screenshot-3901.jpg


NATO tanks on the other hand are far from perfect in terms of ammo storage. Here is most common NATO tank Leopard 2:

d31ca3dae1a3d82818cf1650b71f2b04.jpg


Myth #3 Russian tanks are more mobile than Western. Russian tanks are lighter but have also weaker engines. For example if we take typical 80-es tanks, Abrams and Leopard 2 had power to weight ration 27 hp/t, while typical Soviet T-72B - less than 19 hp/t. What's even worse, they had very archaic transmission compare to Western tanks, which had steering wheel and automatic transmission. Driver in Russian tanks gets tired much faster, he can make mistakes and respond slower in the battle. Also Russian tanks have much lower reverse speed than Western tanks (which is also very important in the battle).
 

Yasar_TR

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To add to my above post I would like to say;
You can not really decide by specs given on paper that one tank is better than the other. With today’s war arena it is very likely that no two opposing tanks will be fighting each other face to face, like in WW2. So what is the point about one tank being better than the other in technical terms.
If you have a tank that is well armoured and actively protected, you have a good tank.
With the proliferation of ATGMs in the world, it has become too risky and dangerous to push in to a battle situation, an armoured vehicle - no matter how thick and high tech the armour is- with human operators inside. They no longer are the castles that can not be penetrated.
So we will see less and less sabot round usage, and if a tank is carrying personnel it will have a very good all-round active protection fitted.
 

Gary

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I'm not a tank expert but I try to answer as neutral as possible without the fanboyism attached.

So when it comes to tanks, there are 4 main parameters to determine a tank capability, those are:
  1. Firepower
  2. Protection
  3. Mobility
  4. Crew comfort
NATO and the Warsaw Pact differ in their design philosophy when it comes to design, this off course because they had a different doctrine on the use of tanks in the battlefield. Manufacturers design their tanks based on the criterion the army gave them which based on how they intended to deploy the design itself.

A. Firepower

NATO and Warsaw Pact differ in their methods of delivering projectile. Both uses APFSDS (KE) for anti armor role and HEAT (CE) for dual anti-armor/personell/fortification role. However NATO emphasis the use of single piece ammunition while Russia opted for the use of dual piece ammunition.

here's what a typical NATO APFSDS rounds look like.
m02006120800210.jpg


while here's what a typical Russian APFSDS looks like (ammo and sabot are separated)
20eb925188b71621010a4d12c1a5a6c9.png


that's because NATO put an emphasis on manual loaders while Russia put an emphasis on auto loader because Russia prefers smaller tanks which means the Russian ammo will have to be compact enough to fit inside in a acceptable numbers. This is not surprising because even Russia put a limit on their tanker crew body size, Russian tanks are very very compact.

As armor develops, so it necessitate a longer rod, for example the DM63A1 rod are as long as 685mm and the latest US M829A4 the "silver bullet' are reportedly as long as 790mm.

the current most potent Russian dart penetrator are the Svinets 2 APFSDS at 740mm penetrator length.

issues with the use of APFSDS for KE rounds means that most of modern army uses smoothbore rounds which allowed for greater pressure in the barrel of the guns, with the odd exception of the Royal Army, everyone has left the rifled barrel since the T-62 came in the 60s.

The most powerful of all NATO guns are reportedly the 120mm Rhenimetall RH120 gun which comes in two size at 44 calibers length (L44) and 55 calibers length (L55). Calibers here means that you multiply the diameter of the round to the barrel length. That means a L44 gun has an approx length of 44x120mm or 5280mm.

For Russia with their 152mm rounds they go with the 2A62M with 52 calibers length, L52.

the longer the barrel the longer the penetrators go. Armies would usually go for the longer calibers gun, with some exception, notably the US Army which retains the shorter M253 gun derived from the RH120 L44, because their ammo, the silver bullet M829 uses more powerful materials for the penetrator using depleted uranium (DU) instead of the weaker tungsten rounds found in many NATO tanks.

the Svinets 1/2 are reportedly a DU round.

Noting earlier the difference in ammo storage and reloading configuration, next we're talking about the survivability of the tanks


2. Protection

NATO tanks are generally larger than that of the Russians, and by quite a margin as this pic will show.
mtwtamct1t821.jpg

source Reddit

That's because NATO as earlier noted, usually uses manually operated loader and that necessitate a room for an extra person in turret. Depending on the skills of the loader, a NATO tanks could deliver a more rapid volley of fire although it will be decreased through time by the human limit such as exhaustion.

here's what a NATO tanks loader look like

while here's a typical Russian revolver auto loader look like
ETUyUBgX0AAiz73.jpg

source






and that from my own observation clearly favors NATO tanks, anyone can correct me on this one.

In a Russian tank the crew is literally sitting on top of an explosive, yes you have hundreds of Kgs of potentially exploding material right under you a**. When a penetration occurs and sparks lit from such penetration, it will instantly trigger the ammo below exploding. As a result the turret will turn into a spectacularly tragic jack in the box.

Hence why we all saw images like this all over the internet.

174118_original.jpg


while NATO tanks store it's ammo separately in the back of the turret and uses what is called a blow out panel

4WBI00M-MSHMv_I3BIgZ6JnSZ3H5BtRqYNSzGyjvXWRPKM-HiFYGph9t7dt5slNBW04krqlw0GGXc8ZpgrXAGKclDiXFzCLHOTQWzBLcFQ59XfaHLBuy_GhvoLXm9ZjthfIVehY


one such incident proving the exceptional use of blow out panel is the Abrams operated by the Iraqi army against ISIS in 2015,


you could see that the tank exploded but the crew are safe (except for maybe burns and some scratch), but they're alive.



to be continued.....

3.Mobility

Mobility is of one tank depends on the power to weight ratio of the tank, and that vary from one model to the other. So there's no universal comparison between NATO tanks and Russian one.

The first thing to consider is weight, the best of NATO tanks vary from the behemoth 67-70+ tons Abrams tank, 62 tons Leopard 2 and Challenger 2, 50 tons 50 AMX-56 Leclerc and C1 Ariete.

While most Russian cold war era MBT such as the T-72, T-80 and T-90 belongs to the MLC 40 class, with the newest Russian Armata weighing at around 55 tons.

and as for engine output and type also differs even from among NATO/Warsaw pact individual countries.

there are so many to choose from, so I pick one , each are arguably the best side the two opposing side could offer, the M1A2 and the T-90M (Armata are not yet introduced into service iirc)

Abrams (M1A2) model with a weight of 67 tons are equipped with the gas turbine Honeywell AGT 1500 with 1500 horsepower, with a power to weight ratio of 21hp/ton that's quite a downgrade from the original M1/M1A1 with around 25hp/ton. the power is delivered through a 4 speed automatic.

the acceleration is 0-20mph of 7 seconds (source: motor trend)

contrast to the Abrams , the T-90 uses multiple engine starting from low 840hp V-84 up to the latest T-90M model which are equipped with the v-96 12cyl engine with output of around 1130hp. mated to a 7 speed forward transmission

with the latest M model of 48tons, we have around 23hp/ton.

off course good transmission are needed to deliver power smoothly, and this I don't know which one does better.

one thing to consider is the support these tanks could have, for example some NATO tank transporter, bridging vehicle, airlifts are clearly not adequate for MLC 70 class like the newer M1A2 SEPv3, so NATO would have difficulties supporting some of their vehicles.
 

500

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Compact layout allows Russian tanks to have good armor in small weight. The disadvantages are:

1) Low gun elevation and depression angles. That means tank can not use effectively terrain cover and often needs to expose itself.
2) fuel tanks and rounds around driver and in side turret ring.
3) You cant replace powerpack fast (in western tanks you can replace powerpack in 1 hour, for Russian tanks it takes a whole day).
4) Additional crew member helps to operate tank, fix stuff (like broken track).
5) Hard to spend long time inside tank.
6) Cant load very long APFSDS rods.

In addition Russia lags in FCS, BMS, thermal sights, transmission...

========================================

Comparison tanks by era:

1950-es: T-54/55 vs. M47/M48, early Centurions.

Soviet tanks were both better armored and armed. Western tanks had subcaliber rounds, faster turret traverse, better sights.

1960-es. early 70-es T-55/62 vs. M60. Centurion

Armor became about equal, Western tanks got excellent L7 gun with excellent subcaliber rounds which could penetrate any tank from over 2 km, with very high speed which allowed easy targeting. T-62 got smoothbore gun, but this gun was hard to load fast in cramped turret, plus most of tanks remained old with 100 mm gun, while old Western tanks like M48 were upgraded to L7. This clear advantage became prominent in Yom Kippur war 1973.

Second half of 70-es. T-72 vs. M60, Chieftain.

Soviets upgraded to new generation with composite armor, big 125-mm gun. M60 massively lagged behind only Chieftain could compete.

1980-es 1990-es T-72A/B vs Abrams and Leopard 2

West upgraded to new generation. Automatic fire control system and thermal night sights gave advantage over Soviet tanks. T-72 FCS was very primitive compare to new Western tanks.

2000+

Russia starts to equip their tanks with thermal sights closing the gap.
 

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