Main battle tanks (MBTs) progressed from basic and light to big, sophisticated, and highly mobile during the Cold War, with advances in weapons and countermeasures. Tanks are considered one of the most important weapons during war. It is known that “The One Who Controls The Land Owns It.”
And for this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the best ten main battle tanks in the world, and their origin ranked on weapons, mobility, and safety (without any order).
The Top 10 Tanks in the World
The top ten tanks right now are the German Leopard 2A7+, the American Abrams M1A2, the Russian T-14 Armata and T-90MS, the Korean K2 Black Panther, the Chinese VT4, the French Leclerc, the British Challenger 2, the Israeli Merkava Mk.4, and the Japanese Type-10.
Let’s find out more details about tanks that are the best at dominating the land battle:
1- M1A2 Abrams – United States of America
The Abrams M1A2 is a battle-proven main battle tank developed by General Dynamics Land Systems for the United States Army. The tank was created based on the performance of the M1A1 and includes modern technology to provide improved firepower and mobility, making it one of the greatest combat tanks in the world.
The tank’s main gun is a manually loaded 120mm XM256 smoothbore cannon that can fire various NATO ammunition at armored vehicles, infantry, and low-flying aircraft. The tank is equipped with two 7.62mm M240 machine guns and a.50 cal M2 machine gun, 42 rounds of 120mm ammunition, 11,400 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 900 rounds of 50-caliber ammo, 32 screening bombs and 210 rounds of 5.56mm ammo.
To provide a high level of protection to its crew, the Abrams M1A2 incorporates thick external composite armor and steel-encased depleted uranium armor at the forward hull and turret. The tank has a cruising range of 426 kilometers and a top speed of 67.5 kilometers per hour.
2- T-14 Armata – Russia
T-14 Armata is a new-generation Russian MBT built for the Russian Army by Uralvagonzavod (UVZ). The tank’s main armament is a 125mm 2A82-1M smoothbore cannon fed by an automated loader. The secondary armament consists of a Kord 12.7mm machine gun and a PKTM 7.62mm machine gun. The tank can launch laser-guided missiles and carry 45 rounds of ammo.
The T-14 Armata MBT is expected to offer STANAG 4569 Level 5 protection. The Afghani tank’s active protection system (APS) detects, tracks, and engages incoming anti-tank ammunition. The tank has a top speed of 90km/h and a range of 500km, thanks to an A-85-3A turbocharged diesel engine.
3- Merkava Mk.4 – Israel
The Merkava Mark IV is the most recent iteration of MANTAK’s Merkava line of main battle tanks (Merkava Tank Office). The tank entered service with the Israel Defense Forces in 2004 and is widely considered one of the world’s best-protected tanks.
The Mk.4 is mounted with a 120mm smoothbore gun capable of firing HEAT and sabot rounds as well as LAHAT anti-tank guided missiles. The tank’s firepower is supplemented with 7.62mm coaxial and 12.7mm swivel-mounted machine guns, as well as a 60mm grenade launcher.
The Merkava Mk.4 has specific spaced armor, sprung armor side skirts, an Elbit laser warning system, and IMI smoke-screen grenades integrated into it. The tank’s active protection system, Trophy, shields the crew from powerful anti-tank missiles. The tank has a top speed of 64 kilometers per hour.
4- VT4 (MBT-3000) – China
The VT4 (previously MBT-3000) MBT is a third-generation tank designed and built primarily for export markets by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco). The Royal Thai Army first used the tank in 2017.
The main battle tank is outfitted with a 125mm smoothbore gun that can fire APFSDS rounds, HEAT warheads, artillery, and guided missiles. A remotely controlled 12.7mm anti-aircraft machine gun and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun are part of the secondary armament.
The tank has composite and explosive reactive armor. The vehicle’s GL5 active protection system (APS) protects tanks, armored vehicles, anti-tank guided missiles, and anti-tank weaponry. The VT4 MBT has a top speed of 70km/h and a maximum range of 500km.
5- Leclerc – France
The Leclerc is a French main battle tank designed by GIAT Industries (now Nexter Systems) for the French Army that is also in use by the UAE Army. In January 1992, the DGA (French Procurement Agency) received the first Leclerc tank.
The Leclerc is a third-generation tank that is equipped with a NATO-standard CN120-26 120mm smoothbore gun, a coaxial 12.7mm machine gun, and a roof-mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The tank is capable of carrying 40 rounds of 120mm ammunition and around 950 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition.
The innovative modular armor of steel, ceramics, and Kevlar provides all-around crew protection and may be elevated to guard against IEDs, mines, and RPGs. The Galix self-protection system installed on the tank improves its survivability even further. The tank can attack targets at a speed of 50km/h on any terrain and has a top speed of 72km/h.
6- Challenger 2 – United Kingdom
The British Army’s and the Royal Army of Oman’s main battle tank is the Challenger 2 (CR2). Based on the Challenger 1 tank, British Vickers Defence Systems (now BAE Systems) designed and constructed the MBT. The capabilities of the Challenger 2 were shown during combat deployments in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq, where it was marketed as the world’s most reliable main battle tank.
The Challenger 2’s primary weapon is a 120mm L30 CHARM (Challenger main ARMament) cannon, while supplementary weapons include a C-axial 7.62mm chain cannon and a turret-mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The tank can carry 50 Armour Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive squash heads (HESH), and Soke rounds, as well as 4,000 7.62mm rounds.
The Challenger 2’s second-generation Chobham armor provides excellent protection against direct-fire weaponry. The tank’s Perkins-Condor CV12 engine achieves a top on-road speed of 59km/h and an off-road speed of 40km/h.
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7- K2 Black Panther – South Korea
The Hyundai Rotem K2 Black Panther (Korean New Main Battle Tank) is a contemporary MBT built for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA). The MBT is designed to provide great mobility, firepower, and self-defense. In 2014, the Black Panther joined the RoKA team.
The primary weapon of the K2 Black Panther is a 120mm smoothbore cannon that can fire improved kinetic energy ammunition and is fitted with an autoloader allowing on-the-fly ammo loading even in rugged terrain. Machine guns of 7.62mm and 12.7mm calibers are used as supplementary armament.
The K2 is highly mobile on the battlefield, with a top speed of 70km/h and a range of 450km. For all-around protection against direct fire, the tank is outfitted with composite armor and explosive reactive armor (ERA). To safeguard against explosions, the ammo rack also has blow-off panels.
8- Leopard 2A7+ – Germany
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) unveiled the Leopard 2A7+, a next-generation main battle tank (MBT), in 2010. The updated variant is based on the Leopard 2 MBT’s technology and has been accepted by the Bundeswehr (German Army) for street fighting as well as classic military duties. Canada was also fighting in Afghanistan under NATO command with the 2A7+.
The Leopard 2A7+ is equipped with a 120mm L55 smoothbore cannon that can fire conventional NATO ammunition as well as innovative programmed 120mm HE-rounds. The tank is outfitted with an FLW 200 remotely operated light weapon station equipped with a 7.62mm/ 12.7mm machine gun or a 40mm grenade launcher.
Passive armor modules attached to the vehicle provide all-around protection against anti-tank missiles, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and RPG fire. The smoke grenade launchers on either side of the turret hide the tank from enemy sight. The MBT may be equipped with extra attachments such as a mine plow, mine roller, or dozer blade for removing mines and obstructions. This tank is extremely mobile, with a top speed of 72km/h and a cruising range of 450km.
9- T-90MS – Russia
The T-90MS, a modernized variant of Uralvagonzavod’s T-90 main battle tank, was revealed for the first time in September 2011 at Russian Expo Arms. The T-90MS has been significantly modernized to provide improved combat capabilities in current warfare situations.
The tank’s 125mm 2A46M-5 cannon shoots many types of ammunition with remarkable precision. On a remotely operated weapon station, the tank is additionally equipped with a 6P7K 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun.
The modular ERA panels located on the tank’s back and sides provide protection against small weapons and shell splinters. For anti-tank missile defense, the forward hull and turret can be outfitted with RELIKT reactive armor. In addition, the T-90MS has an optoelectronic screening system and an electromagnetic protection system. The tank can reach a top speed of 60km/h thanks to a V-92S2F engine with a rated output of 1,130hp.
10- Type 10 (TK-X) – Japan
The Type 10 (TK-X) is a fourth-generation advanced main battle tank developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). The tank entered service with the JGSDF in 2012 and has been praised for its mobility.
A 120mm smoothbore rifle, a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a Type 74 7.62mm cannon round out the Type 10 MBT’s weaponry. During integrated combat operations, the powerful C4I technology provides interoperability with infantry forces.
The tank’s hull is protected by modular ceramic composite armor against rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds, HEAT projectiles, and anti-tank missiles. To change the security levels, the add-on modules may be readily removed and installed. The water-cooled diesel engine produces 1,200hp and has a top speed of 70km/h.
These tanks are considered to be the best in the world, and they provide the highest defensive technologies in the military field. However, this list might change with time and with newly manufactured tanks that could take the place of other tanks soon.
Which tanks do you consider the most powerful? And if you want to remove one of the tanks from this list, which one would you remove?