History of tanks dates back to World War I when all-terrain vehicles were needed in combat. Slowly, tanks evolved into powerful beasts during World War II. They were the backbone of a country’s army. Even in the 21st-century battle tanks or MBT (Main Battle Tanks) are the backbone of an army’s artillery regiment. Compared to other artillery weapons, they perform multifarious roles and have always been regarded as a versatile combat machine. They are preferred over other combat weapons because of the ease with which they operate in any kind of terrain. They are rugged and powerful with respect to the impact of destruction that it can create on enemy soils. This list will be covering the 10 most powerful war tanks of lethal destruction that are used by different countries in the world.
10. Merkava MK4, Israel
The MK4 is the latest variant in the Merkava series of tanks manufactured by MANTAK and assembled by the IDF ordinance corps for the Israeli army. It is one of the most powerful war tanks to come from the Israeli soil. The first variant was put into operation in 1978 and has seen a lot of developments and changes over the years. The 908 horsepower, the air-cooled diesel engine is located in the front of the tank and allow the tank to cruise to speeds up to 40mph. The main gun has been designed in such a way that it can fire HEAT and APFSDS rounds.
9. Type 59, China
Developed in China, Type 59 is the main battle tank that is in operation over 15 countries. It is the Chinese version of the T-54A tank that was manufactured by the Soviet Union. The main armament is a 100mm rifled gun (Type 59 cannon) which comes with a machine gun mounted coaxially. In addition to the main armament, the tank also comes equipped with a 7.62mm machine gun which can be primarily used for air-defense. The tank has the capacity to carry a total of 1,215 liters of diesel (including an external drum) which gives it a range of 600km.
8. T-84, Ukraine
The T-84 is the main battle tank manufactured by the Ukrainian company, Malyshev Factory. It is considered one of the fastest tanks in the world with a cruising speed of 65-70 km/h. It is equipped with a 125mm smoothbore main cannon, 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun. In addition to the NATO standard rounds, the main bore is capable of firing laser-guided missiles. For added protection to the tank and the crew, the tank is fixed with explosive reactive armor panels and large rubber skirts to withstand attacks. The VARTA optronic system has the ability to misguide incoming missiles ATGWs (Anti-tank guided weapons). It is one of the few tanks that are equipped with an auxiliary power unit to supply power when the main engine is turned off.
7. Challenger 2, UK
Challenger 2 or the FV4034 Challenger 2 is the main battle tank that is manufactured in the United Kingdom by BAE Systems Land & Armaments. Currently, this tank is in operation with the British and Oman army. This 4 crew member tank is capable of firing 50 rounds of 120mm ammunition from its L30 This tank is capable of covering a distance of 520-550km with a maximum road speed of ~ 55-59 km/h. In addition to the main bore gun, the tank has a chain and machine gun capable of firing 7.62 mm rounds. The tank is powered with a twin-turbocharged direct injection diesel engine which delivers a horsepower of 1200.
6. M1 Abrams, USA
Abrams Jr. was a 4 star General in the US army and the M1 Abrams was named in his honor. This heavy-duty tank is manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems that specializes in main battle tanks and armored vehicles. The tanks are known for its agility and capacity to safely sustain the crew in ground combat due to the ammunition storage being designed separately. It is one of the most preferred tanks for front-line service because of the firepower that it is able to deliver in combat. Some of the variants come equipped with an MCS (Missile Countermeasure Device) that has the capacity to send signals to confuse the avionics of an ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile). The tank is usually coated with paints that have the ability to escape the chemical attack. The main bore gun is capable of firing 120mm rounds in addition to 12.7mm and 7.62 mm rounds from the machine guns attached to the tank.
5. Type 10, Japan
The Japanese Army wanted to develop a main battle tank with an emphasis on firepower, performance, and agility. These requirements were met by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when they developed the Type 10 tank. The tank’s main bore gun has the capacity to fire APFSDS and all standard 120mm NATO ammunition. The 4 stroke V8 diesel engine allows the tank to cruise at 70km/h both in forward and backward directions. The uniqueness of this tank is that is comes equipped with the latest C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computer & Intelligence) system that has largely helped the tank stand out in terms of protection and the scale of firepower that it can deliver. Compared to its predecessors, the type 10 is significantly lightweight and carry three crew members. The tank also comes with two machine guns: M2HB 12.7mm and Type 74 7.62 mm.
4. K2 Black Panther, South Korea
Manufactured by Hyundai Rotem, K2 Black Panther is one of the latest in the Republic of Korea’s fleet of tanks. These have been replacing the aging M48 tanks, and have added extra power to the artillery regiment. The main bore gun was designed exclusively by Hyundai Wia, and it has a capacity to fire 10 rounds/ minute with the autoloader feature complementing the operation. The thermal imaging camera along with the target locking mechanism enables the tank to fire accurately at the target (9km) even while moving. The radar jammer and radar warning systems are also a highlight of this tank. To increase crew safety, the tank is also fitted with a mechanism that would put off any internal fires that may occur. Turkey is another country that has this tank in operation.
3. Leopard 2 A7+, Germany
This is a tank that belongs to the leopard 2 series that is manufactured by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG for the German army. The leopard 2 series superseded the Leopard 1 in the 1970s as Germany’s main battle tank. The main bore is capable of firing 120mm rounds and other standard Leopard 2 series ammunition. Another highlight of the tank is its capacity to integrate a machine gun and a grenade launcher. This tank has the capacity to hold armor sheets that offer all-round protection from anti-tank ballistic missiles and grenades which adds an extra sense of safety to the soldier that is operating it. Like any modern MBT (Main battle tank), it has provisions for additional attachments that facilitate operations like clearing mines and obstacles. The company claims that the tank can cruise to speeds in the range of 60-70 km/h with the fuel lasting for 400-450km based on the load that is present in the tank.
2. Type 99, China
Type 99 is a third-generation main battle tank manufactured by the Chinese company- Norinco. It is currently in use only with the People’s Liberation Army of China. The firepower capabilities of type 99 are impeccable and have an extremely high hit rate. The main cannon is a 125mm smoothbore gun with autoloading capability. The main cannon is capable of firing APFSDS, HEAT, FragHET, and NATO standard ammunition. The stability of the main cannon is the highlight of this tank because it offers high-accuracy target hit even while moving. The tank can cruise to a speed of 80km/h on road for a range of 500km.
1. T-90MS, Russia
The T-90MS is a modernized version of the T-90 which is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod: the largest main battle tank manufacturer in the world. It is one of the most popular tanks in the world. It is in operation over 9-10 countries, including Russia. It is equipped with a 1,130 Hp engine and cruise up to speeds of 58-60 km/h. The tank comes with a 125mm 2A46M smoothbore gun with 43 rounds. In addition to the main gun, the 12.7 mm heavy machine gun has a range of 1.6 km and can fire up to 800 rounds/ minute. The tank is armed with three layers of protection: composite armor, explosive reactive armor, and a countermeasures suite. The third layer of protection has the ability to alert the crew when the tank has been painted by a weapon laser. Once painted, the third tier protective layer has the ability to throw smoke grenades and misguide ATGMs.