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segunda-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2014

 Modern Tanks. A evaluation Part 1.

The XXI century saw the importance of the tank reduce for most of ocidental countries. The crise of most soberane states have reduce the military budget  to minimal and thanks are the principal victim becouse to politics and militarys the treths are first in ar and then in the see. But for nations like India or China were the MTB are less modern (specially in blindage and  electronic) the number is a way of  military achivement.  Its true that ocidantal MBT are most sofisticade than from other contries, but this vantage only goes to a certain point, and probably only USA have this in mind.
Abrams tank was a response to XMT-70 faliure. The US Army had the knowledge of mass soviet tactics using T-55/T-62 and when T-64/T-72s prototype were more advance than his ancestors a kick and good project was need. 
The inovation of the design ( it was the first MBT with Chobham armour) match with several components from M-48/M-60 like the L-55 (L-7 copy gun) make this MBT probably in the 80s and 90s one of the most powerfull tanks in the world, only match by Merkava and Leopard II. Persian Gulf War in 1991 engage the legend with only a few Abrams hit by enemy fire and none lost to Iraq tanks when the 120 mm L-44 main gun destroy undreads of Iraqui MBTs.    
But the americans don't understand that this numbers were a mistake. The Abrams was not that good and like other tanks had several mistakes. When the upgrade M1A2 and M1A1 Aim was made with a few combat experiênce and like always the combat simulation training don´t prevent the development of anti-tank weapons like new type of RPG or land mines. In 2003 they descovered that the enemy could destroyed a Abrams in a infantry ambush or with a IED.
With TUSK upgrade the problem was resolved (only Rpg - 29 are dangerous to M1) and in Afghanistan the USMC Abrams combat without any incidents.

Merkava is a "experience" tank. After "Six Days" and "Yom Kippur" Israel make the research and development to a better MBT than the Centurion and M-48/M-60 used in past wars. After 9 years the Mk1 were in IDF at time of 1982 Libanon Invasion. There they were a sucess, used also like APC or armoured ambulances thanks to rear door and with no casualties to the crue (but with 34 Merkavas lost), becouse they were imune to RPG-7 and AT-3. 
Israel make a significant upgrade to Mk2 with changes like the now internal 60mm mortar and chain netting install behind the turret to fight RPG that could jam the turret. They think the tank will be a optimized to urban warfare, but after 2002 they discovered that were wrong even with Mark III and is composit armour. 

In February of that year the first Merkava (MkIII) were destroyed with a land mine and total loss of the crue, and one moth after another one (MkII) with 3 soldiers killed. But the heavy cassualties came with 2006 Libanon Invasion between Mk II and III (Mk IV were few), were the Hezbollah used several soviet missiles and IED like the RPG-29, AT-5, AT-13 and AT-14 could penetrate the heavy armour of Merkava. And the problems were not only with more old versions.

Of the 21 tanks lost all had armour penetration with some crue lost. For me and for some analysts the time of Merkava is comming to a end (besides the redction of tank crue lost from 2 to 1 since 1973). Of course Israel is improving to the MKIV but it will be a disaster if another project came  to ligth in a deccade. Today with the upgrade of for example Trophy Active Protection and Elbit Laser Warning the Merkava can foiled a missile attack of a AT-14, but it still penetrate the armour like in 2010 near Al-Bureij. 

Probably Leclerc is one of the most advanced MBT of today, but it is also the most expensive and complex to. In 2008 it was 17 millions (euros) by unit and only 254 from 406 were in service in 2011 becouse of budget cuts. Use by French and United Arab Emirates the MBT is deployed in combat areas such Libanon and Kosovo but saw no war. 
Like other ocidental tanks the Leclerc was some brother influence like the 120mm main gun or the 12,7 mm coaxial machine gun but there are some important inovation. The main one is the auto -  loading system wich reduce the crew for three but there's others like the own proctection armour and GALIX combat protection.

In Libanon and Kosovo the MBT proved to be satisfactory by the troops and Qatar is a potencial user with 40 Leclerc second hand units. For the most expensive tank 794 units and more 66 recovered vehicles it is a success. With more than 200 units in reserve it is possible that some of them will be in future sell to other nations at 9,3 millions each. 

NEXTER end the production in 2007 and the line was closed but the company is still can build more if there's a need. Probably the future in the next 30/40 years will be upgrade the existence units to after 2.1 séries with better sistems and more efective powerplant and armour. If Leclerc figth in some war in future the battle experience will get some influence on the improvement but price will be allways a main concern for french politicians.    

Ariete is today the more convencional MBT in service becouse the nation had no experiênce with heavy tanks (only produce the Leopard I and Of-40). The armour is steel and composite blend and like all the other systems were all made in Italy bi Fiat, Iveco, Galileo Avionica and Oto Melara, with the last one manufactured the 120 mm L44 gun. One of the interesting inovation of this tank is the two side mounted electronically fired grenade launchers with smoke or chaff granades (to reduce the radar section). 
The main problems were the powerplant and the need of the tank to be with less than 60 tonnes at the expense of the tickness armour (that raise some doubt about survive in harshest environments), but the speed and mobility were appreciate by the military. The production of the 200 MBT end in 2002 with no exportations but there's plans to upgrade the most part of the tanks with a new MTCA engine and al least two types of more powerfull armour. But financial and technical problems block the revision.  

Operacional use in Iraq (Antica Babilonia) that last three years in Nassiriya area with participation in Ponti Battle with no major problems (the last ones used extra armour). The future of Mk2 that besides motor and armour kits include a autoloader and hydrogas suspension, is probably the same of other MBT, with a number of them being upgrade and the rest sold or in reserve. Besides Italy have the Centaur that is a very good scout car and with a 105 mm gun could carry support missions in Kosovo or Africa.

domingo, 9 de fevereiro de 2014

A Persian Gulf Navy: Iran

Iran modern navy was born in 1923 by the hand of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi father (Reza Shah Pahlavi) but their existance was since the times of Achaemanide at Persian Impire 500 BC. In the Anglo - Soviet invasion in 1941 all the Iran Navy was lost (two gunboats sunk and four damaged like Brabr we see in the images). The need for the Iranian fields control and alied supply lines had result the ocupation in north by the Soviet army and in the south by the British forces for five long years (1941 to 1946 when they leave). 

The Iran Navy was rebuilt almoust with Uk an Us equipment, specialy several destroyers (Like Brabr Destroyer see in picture below), frigates and the moust part were hovercrafts and powerboats. In 1970s Iran planed to reach Indian Ocean with four Kidd class destroyers and eight modified Kortenear class but the contracts were canceled after islamic revolution.

Principal warships were the destroyers Babrs II (up picture) , Palang (above) an Artemiz (D-5 two images down). Supply ships like Char Bahar (R-13) and Landing Craft has Sohrab were important ships that no longer are in use by islamic navy.  The rest was small boats, minesweeper and a Oil Tanker but in a very organized and equilibrate navy (
There are several independent sorces that some of these ships are still in reserve at Bushehr city. It is possible that some sistems or the original sheld were used by another new units of actual Iran Navy. Other possibility is the full recuperation of this units but with more than 50 years old this is a litle beat difficuld.

In Pahlavi era the Imperial Navy was the most modern nad bigger of Persian Gulf. The White Revolutiníon give rights to women also in the navy were they had permition to do several taskes. The problem was that this reform hand give to opposition  and religious leaders the reasons to increse religious opposition. The SAVAK violent actions didn't help to, so in 1979 the Islamic Revolution of Khomeini end with 2508 years of Persian Dynasty. 
The final step of Iran-Iraq War was a tragedy for the Iran Navy, specially becouse of Us intervention (below we see Frigate Sahand hit by bombs and harpoon missiles from american navy). With need for spares, upgrade systems (in a result of the war and US embargo) and with only China and North Koreia support not only the fleet but also the helicopters and planes were in the minimal (
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) was re-boarn with Russian, Chinese and North Korean equipment in civilian and military ocidental ships. The reverse engineering made at least in theory the electronic upgrade to Alvand frigates and the surface-surface C-802 was the main armament to must part of ships.  But not everything is positive, most significant classes are at list with 30 years old and one important part of budget goes to the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Naval. 
The main Ships are the Moudge and Alvand Class (first and second pictures above) with missiles C-802 (Noor) and main 76/114 mm and 35/20mm AA guns. There's ASW torpedos probably a copy of american or british models ( and the Damavand (one unite make in Caspian See) have a AA missile call Raad (it is possible that other ships will had them to in future ).  
There is a helicopter pad for a bell-214 ASW but no hangar. The Raad missile it is a copy of Sm-1 Standart (i think that is more probable a naval copy of Hawk missiles and the guns are possible make in Iran or retired from older corvettes. Sayyad missiles are proposed for future ships but it seems big to a full instalation with paiol (

Even the ex governement yath Hamze (Agg-802 see above) was equipped with c-802 missiles and guns (now is a corvette). Some surces said that is in Caspian Sea but others had seen him in Indian Ocean and in a Suddanese port ( the aincient name of the ship was Shahsavar). The need for all boat was big.

But is in the landing and support rolle that Iran Navy was more strong. Ships like S-511 Hengam (also 512 - Larak, 513 - Lavan and 514 - Tonb in the third image above) give to IRIS the possibillity of landing missions with military vehicles and helicopters like Sh-3 or Bell - 214, but also makes a mobil base for minisubmarines or special operations. Only the US Navy have the same possibility in all the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean (were the Indian presence are strong to).

Karg (above), Bandar(C-421and C-422 - Boohehr) and other supply ships (like Delvar and Kagan) are big enougth to support a fleet of several ships in even Mediterranean Sea like we see in Syrian Conflit. Even Israel (with one of the most modern navys of Meadle East) have limitations in those missions becouse they dont have that type of vessels (and probably they don't need).

Special forces operations were in Iraq-Iran conflit and still are important for Iran Navy. The Hangan Class (above) is old but can support that type of missions and with facilities for a helicopter vertical landing is possible. Since the Revolution Guard Navy have lots of litlle power boats these ships are very good to with hovercraft, give them the opportunity to make missions in all the Golf and even in Indian Ocean or even far away. 

The Karg and Bandar class are the bigger ships in Iran Navy and they have hangar to helicopter. It is true that in the two Bandar ships it is not permanent but in Karg at least two Sh-3 Sea King are used in missions above. Some sources say that is is more than a support vessel with space, fuel and facilities for a limitied landing plantform but we never see landincrafts or amphibian tanks on the deck. 

With a huge coast Iran deppends of tankers, oilers and support ships to give fuel, munitions and food to the facilities. For example the main base (Bandar-e Abbas) is in the strait of Hormuz (, but are several other instalations in Khark Island, Bandar-e Anzali and Bandar-e Khomeini. Since the 1970s that Bandar Beheshti is under construction and is the main Base in Gulf of Oman. So, ships like Bandar (up and above) Delvar, Kangan and Hendijan are important so that support aren't only made by land. 

Submarines of Iran navy are at least 31 units. The main ships are the 3 Kilo russian made submarines but Ghadir and Nahang are minisubmarines with small autonomy. Fateh and Besat submarines are more capable but we don´t now if will be a sucess and if Iran will built them in number ( 

For now the Kilo class (with probably Fateh and Besat) will make missions in all Persian Golf and Indian Ocean (image above). Ghadir (second above) and Nahang area of operations are Hormuz and the Iran Coast. At least there is in Iran two midget submarines class with several pictures seen in parades and in deck Hangam class ships (  

Persian Gulf was a depth between 50 and 90 meters ( It his an area for litle submarines like Baltic Sea but with only 251 000 Km2 what in teory gives to Iran advantage since no other country have them. But German today uses convencional submarines like the U-214 much more modern than the costal type used in Baltic for several decades.  ( Israel uses the same submarines with harpoon and probably some cruise missiles.  

Significant number of patroll boats, missile and fast attack crafts, specialy with C-802 missiles, are very dangerous in such a small area. Kaman, Houdong and Sina with stealth Bavar (four image down and class makes that even the US Navy give attention to Combat Littoral Ships and fast crafts was a meaning to deall with such problems. 

So, Iran have a powerfull navy at least in the papper, but is real? Well, the first major problem is in political organitazion of the armed forces of the contry. The Molars preference is for Navy of the Army of the Guardians of Islamic Revolution and the fast boats armed with rockets and heavy machine guns ( that in case of war will operate was kamikase. Is is the only possibillity to make a mess in a American warship and at least gives to IRIN the best ships an hovercrafts ( 

The second problem is target aquisition. Only some P-3 and F-27 (first and second plane images) Patrol planes are in use by Iran. They don't have AEW so the small radar of fast boats had to be on also to give to C-802 missiles midle an final target corrections. We don't now if the means of IRIN have datta link so helicopters lik Mil-17 or Bell -214, or even fighters like F-14 can give that type of informations to ships an missiles.If so, the best way in a convencional war with US and allied ships will be with target aquisition made 200 or 300km inside Iran territory.

Iran propaganda like to show pictures of fast topedo and power boat at high speed (, but WWII experiênce give us reasons not to do so. It is an ambush type of ship that is more efective hide in cost or stoped in the water expected that the small vessel won't be detected and can fire missiles, torpedos or guns before enemy see them. I don't think that with so many C-802 in mobil trucks and images show us that Iran tactics are send everything to Golf and expected the islam fanactics with Ala help do the rest (

Last major problem of Iran Navy is the lack of a AA missil. Several pictures of at some think theres a Sm-1 Standart copy in the country is probably fake. It is possible that Raad is a begginig but is to big for all capital ships and for now only Moudge class ( So without an efective anti-aircraft missile it is impossible to conduct war operations in Indian or Red Sea without air range. Missions like we see to Syria or the anti-piracy are only possible in peace time and with a no tecnologic enemy.

In the end, IRIAN is a powerfull navy in a peace Golf and with no US Navy units in the area. The lack of technology and the age of ships, systems and reverse engineered to do some modern weapons it is a problem that Iran staff don't understand and that any good military analisis detected. Russian and China supported with surface missiles and some other equipment but the Islamic Revolution with ONU embargo left the Armed Forces limited in a war time. To do so, Iran budget go to to Islamic Revolution Guard and strange weapons like the flying boat ( with the islamic ideology are espected to do the same that modern tecnology, but i don't think so.