The very first tank in the world was designed in 1916 by the British company William Foster & Co. It was called Mark I and was used during World War I. The fighting vehicle had a diamond shape, which allowed to overcome even the widest trenches. Due to the fact that the design was very high, the weapons were not mounted on top but on the sides.
Modern tanks are very different from their ancestor: they are equipped with more weapons, guidance systems, powerful engines to develop high speeds and so on. Tanks have been and remain the main striking force in combat operations, so tanks are constantly evolving and are unlikely to disappear in the future. Below is a list of the best tanks as of 2022 – they are in service in different countries and have unique features.
American tank M1 “Abrams” The Abrams series of tanks have been mass-produced by General Dynamics Land Systems since 1980. They are the main battle tanks of the United States and are actively purchased by the armies of Egypt, Australia, Morocco and other Middle Eastern states. Their main features are a record weight of 62 tons and use of several innovative solutions such as computerized fire control system. This tank is one of the few equipped with a system of protection against weapons of mass destruction. If the enemy uses nuclear or chemical weapons, this system starts feeding filtered air into the masks of the crew members. So far, 10,288 M1 Abrams tanks have been produced.
This tank has a modification of the M1A2 Abrams. It has been produced since 1992 and has been used in many military conflicts like the Iraq War (2003-2011) and the war in Afghanistan (2001-2014). The tank accommodates four men, the gun is equipped with 42 rounds of ammunition, has a machine gun, panoramic sight, thermal imager and computerized on-board equipment. The M1A2 Abrams reaches 40 miles per hour and fires at a rate of 10 to 12 rounds per minute. The cost of M1A2 tank is estimated at 5-6 million dollars.
German Leopard 2 tank The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank that is produced by the German company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. It was developed in 1979 and is currently available in many European countries like Germany itself, Austria, Sweden and so on. One of the main features of this tank is the ability to fire on moving targets, even while driving on rough terrain. In order to hit a detected target, the gunner only needs to put a marker on it. The armor can protect it from anti-tank missiles and mines, as well as from grenade launchers and cluster munitions.
Depending on the modification, the Leopard-2 tank weighs from 60 to 70 tons. Its diesel engine allows it to accelerate up to 68-72 kilometers per hour. Among the disadvantages of the Leopard-2 is its low cross-country capability and manual reloading. According to 2015 data, 3,000 tanks of this model have been produced in the world, each of which costs $6.5 million.
South Korea’s K2 “Black Panther” tank The K2 “Black Panther” tank launched by the South Korean company Rotem (a division of Hyundai Motors) was adopted for service in 2014. During the development much attention was paid to the electronic component of the fighting vehicle. All electronic systems of the tank were integrated into a unified network – it became possible due to the tank information and control system (TICS). A Combat Information and Command and Control System (CICS) was also introduced, which ensures real-time exchange of combat and reconnaissance information with other combat equipment.
The cannon ammunition is 40 rounds – the tank can fire up to 15 rounds per minute. The defense system is capable of detecting enemy shells at a distance of up to 150 meters and destroying them with its own shells. Weight of the combat vehicle is 55 tons, and it can hold up to 3 people inside. Movement speed can reach 50-75 kilometers per hour.
Russian T-90 tank The Russian T-90 tank has been manufactured by Uralvagonzavod since 1992. It is still considered one of the best tanks in terms of value for money, so it is not surprising that in the first decade of the XXI century it was the best selling tank in the world. New modifications of the tank are equipped with the Kalina fire control system, which can hit the target with a single shot in all weather conditions. The cannon holds 22 rounds and operates at a rate of 9 rounds per minute. In numerous tests, the T-90 tank proved to be better than the aforementioned Abrams and Leopards in terms of firing, maneuverability and durability.
T-90 tank weighs 47 tons and is able to reach speed up to 65 kilometers per hour. One of its features is the ability to overcome water obstacles up to 5 meters deep. According to the data for 2012, 1335 T-90 tanks were produced, which are used by Russia and other states. With its characteristics, this tank costs $4 million.
Russian T-14 “Armata” tank The T-14 “Armata” tank was first shown in 2015, during a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II. According to many experts, it is currently considered the best tank in the world. There is no room for a man in its turret because a 125 mm smoothbore gun with automatic reloading and a range of 7000 meters is installed there. The tank’s crew is in a rugged capsule that can withstand even a direct hit from anti-tank shells. If a malfunction occurs, the system notifies the crew by a voice message.
The mass of the T-14 “Armata” tank is estimated at 48 tons, up to three people can be placed inside. Its speed can reach 90 kilometers per hour, even in rough terrain. Among the disadvantages of the fighting machine is a strong dependence on electronics. The cost of the T-14 “Armata” tank is estimated at 3.7 million dollars.