Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tank Comparisons

Here is a comparison chart of Modern Main Battles Tanks that I've been working on. You're free to use, modify and share it according to the license listed in the document.

The license is as below:

As the creator of this work, I own the copyright to this document. I allow redistribution, copy and use this work with or without modifications is allowed under the following conditions:

1. Redistributions must retain the above copyright notice, with my name (Sniperz11), and this list of conditions;

2. Redistributions in modified form must explicitly state the fact that the document has been modified.

Any other rights are released by the author.

Some points to note:
1. I have tried to make it as comprehensive as possible, but not being a subject expert, the parameters for comparison elude me.

2. I have also strictly adhered to taking data only from authentic sources, preferably only the user or manufacturer websites. The source of this data has been indicated in the comments on each cell, and in the sources worklist. If you are also modifying this, I request you to do the same.

3. The information for some parameters, for eg, Armor ratings are highly classified; while there is no information for other tanks, like the Chinese Type-99.

4. Please ensure that you give data relating to the most common version of the latest variant of the tank. For eg, for Merkava, provide data for the Merkava Mk.4, or M1A2 SEP for the Abrams, and Leopard 2A6 variant.

5. As you will see, there are huge blanks in the document. I look forward to your assistance in this regards. If you are creating a new version, or modifying any information, please ensure that this is mentioned in a disclaimer/license text at the back of the excel sheet.

6. I request you to also create a seperate worksheet in the file, and list the alterations to the original file. This will make it easier to create a common version from many.

You can upload your version (please make sure that the filename contains the date updated and your name) on any site in the net ( is a good one; rapidshare is the among the most popular), and give a link to the URL on a comment to this post.


Download links:

Please let me know if there are any problems with the download or viewing. Thanks.

1. - Tank Comparisons_July 24 2008_Sniperz11.xls

2. Rapidshare -


Peter Coates said...

Sniperz my friend

I think your tank file is only supported via xls. Which I can't get into. It doesn't seem to pop up automatically.

I'm an expert on tanks as were my father and grandfather by profession.

Please try to convert your xls file into word or at least plain text on the blog.



sniperz11 said...

Hi Peter,

Nice to hear that you're the expert.... I'd love your help.

What exactly is the problem??? Are you able to download the file but not open it, or does download itself not work??

I've also posted the file on Rapidshare for download at

I tried converting it into word format, but its downright impossible... you'll see when you open the file. its 7 worksheets long and compares about 14 tanks....

There are huge gaps in the comparison, which i need help with. would love any help you could give.


sniperz11 said...

Hi Pete... I've sent u the attachment by mail. Hope it reaches u.

Let me know when u get it.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Sniperz11

In retrospect I've been a tad extravagant in calling myself a tank expert.

Your Tank Comparison Chart is an excellent basis for discussion. I must admit I know little about the C1 Ariete, K1A1 or K2 Black Panther. Interesting that the S Koreans are going to the expense of developing there own.

In mobility I think key areas are hp/kW and related to that power to weight ratio. The Abrams is heavy but has quite good mobility with quick acceleration due to its turbine engine BUT its engine is very thirsty. Excessive use of fuel will increasingly be a problem for the Abrams which Australia now also operates.

I think diesel (as with the Arjun and Leopard 2 etc) is a far better choice. Maintenance is supposed to be easier with better reliability.

The ongoing Argun/T-90 issues are interesting . Clearly the Russians don't want to lose technological secrets and most of the Indian market by handing over full T-90 production technology to India.

In that sense Russia appears to see tank availability as a useful foreign policy lever over India.

Australia and the UK have often gotten the same partial cooperation from the US over fighter source codes and other high tech details. Knowledge is power hence countries like the US and Russia don't share it easily.


sniperz11 said...

Hehe Pete... thanks a lot. You're being too modest. I didnt do anything on this comparison - only trolled the net for official information and added the parameters that were there.

I havent done any analysis, and certainly, i'm not capable or qualified to do one. Thats the difference between me and experts - I'm a guy who's never touched a tank even, and anybody who has used a tank for even 15 days knows far more, and is an expert.

What interested me in the comparison was just how difficult it was to develop the gun - almost all the western tanks (and eastern allies) use the Rheinmetall gun (either original or under license) - US, Israel, Korea, Japan, Germany, the whole lot.

That really is a good indicator of just how well developed our tank development capability is. Additionally, our rifled gun is as good as the British L30, and has almost as long a life as the Russian 2A46-2 gun (which lasts about 700 efcs only - a poor indicator of Russian metallurgical expertise, I guess).

I'd love any help you can give in official sources, if you come by them in your net travels. More importantly, being absolutely ignorant in this tech, I'd love any help you can provide me in understanding which parameters are good indicators of a tank's performance, especially wrt the electronics and sensors (which you will notice, is empty).

Coming to the Arjun, I do hope this turns into a big controversy - a good tank like this should not go to the grave just because some 55 year old generals are too old and inflexible to think beyond their old tactics and tanks, and look past the roubles that come their way.

The new assertive Russian state has had its problems as we are finding out with a whole range of deals.... its time to diversify and cut our losses.

Refusing ToT is understandable, but not when they have clearly signed a deal for that and committed themselves - thats pretty much the difference between US and Russia. US is at least straight-batted and brings up these issues before it signs on the dotted line.

Its a pity that the Russians are forgetting their commitments blatantly without realizing that they'll lose the biggest customer and friend they have.

Already, they are getting shafted by the Chinese. If they lose the Indian account, things may not be as rosy. But looks like they've got their eye firmly on the emerging markets in SE Asia & Africa.

If you want a regular ringside view of the Arjun action, keep watching Ajai Shukla's blog at He is a former tankman, and is the best expert among the Indian media... interestingly, he was staunchly against the Arjun up till last year (which was also when the Arjun problems were ironed out) when he got to see it up close.

Also keep watching Shiv Aroor's blog at Don't look for analysis there, but the news is usually up there hot and fast.


Peter Coates said...

Thanks sniperz11

I'll have a look at those sites. Meanwhile have a look at pages 2 and 3 of this tank table . It has that essential measure, power to weight ratio, and much other data.

I think the Arjun was partly considered an insurance policy and partly a testbed for India to make a world class tank. As India has the the Arjun it is not as beholden to other tank sellers, say Russia or Germany in any tank sale negotiation. There is a risk though that the T-90 will/is proving too small, cramped and cold weather orientated to suit India's hot conditions.

Some T-90s may do for awhile alongside some Arjun's but a development of the Argun (say) in 20 years may suit for decades. Germany may provide the right combination of experience and relative political neutrality. Israel, may be an alternative or additional helper but the Merkeva is weird, is partly a personnel carrier and few have been produced.


sniperz11 said...

Nice find Pete, thanks a lot... will make good use of it.

The main reasons why the Arjun has become such a problem child is because it is the product of a teenage pregnancy (if I may say so)... both the Army and DRDO had no clue what they were doing - DRDO having NEVER before made a tank, and certainly not one as complex as this, and the Army, thrust into the new age of computers and hi-tech, having no clue about what it wanted, but looking for the next big thing in MBTs...

Hence, we got what we got - an Army that had no idea what such a tank and thus constantly changing their requirements based on what the sales brochures for new tanks said (BBC - "Best of Brochure Claims", as some scientists derisively refer to it as). Each time one prototype was ready, the army would inevitably come up with a new requiremtn based on some new fancy, or, on what new tank Pakistan was looking to buy next.

Having fought with one doctrine on one type of tank, It must have been hard to try and adapt for a totally new way of fighting, something the army still hasn't figured out yet.

Then, there is the Army's continued refusal to accept anything short of a showroom style finished product, refusing to accept the Arjun till every single fault, however small is fixed. Total contrast from what the Israelis did with their Merkavas. Pity that we didnt have an Ariel Sharon on our side who could push it down their throats.

At the same time, DRDO guys, faced with the more daunting challenge of actually building the thing played macho, and thought they could achieve it all very easily and in record time, resulting in the inevitable delays when they hit the big boulders.

They did admit inabilities, for eg, in the engine, which we thought we could source from Germany... which did cause problems when the Germans refused to give us the 873 engine, and instead gave us the older, larger, more inefficient 838 engine from the Leopard 1. Led to a lot of re-engineering.

This chicken and egg story continues - did DRDO's delays cause the changing GSQRs (army reqts) or did Army requirement changes cause program delays? Seems to be a bit of both.

Coming to the T-90 vs Arjun, I guess the army was too tired of waiting any more and decided to kill the Arjun (forgetting, as most people do, to introspect on their role in the disaster). Of course, when the problems were all ironed out by 2005, they were still stuck with the 1995 memories of tanks that kept failing.

It appears that the Army loves the T-90 for its reliability, in spite of its combat inabilities thanks to the constant malfunctions. They have already run the first batch of 347 to the moon and back, quickly running them past their life spans. The engine reliability and ease of maintenance is what has captivated them, and makes them forget about the inaccuracy of the FCS, problems with the sensors and cramped conditions, or the fact that the Arjun is a far more lethal machine.

I think we can even now start like the Merkavas - get the Army to accept and induct 500 tanks, which should be contemporary (if not with the latest Abrams and Leopards, the Arjun will at least be better than the Al-Khalid and the Chinese Type-99s) and get them to work together with DRDO designers to iron out the issues and make a far better Mk.2 version within 5 years. That should lead to a cutting edge Mk.3 tank by 2020.

It seems to me to be the best way to take it forward. But to do that, the MoD and DRDO HQ should work to heal the wounds between CVRDE (the lab that made the Arjun) and the DGMF, Indian Army.. as of now, both are not on speaking terms with the other, with the only conduit being the Army officer, Gen. HM Singh who has been with the project since its inception in '74.

Getting the Army to put its money and have joint design and development will give both an ideal way to get the best of both worlds - technology and combat efficiency. lets hope that America gives another round of 'counter-terrorism' aid, with M1A2s for 'fighting the Taliban'... that seems to be pretty much the only way that the Army will look at the Arjun.

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...
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