The first tanks on the battlefield appeared during the First world war. During its century-long history they have gone from clumsy and vulnerable «land cruisers», to modern «flying» multi-ton machines that can withstand dozens of direct hits from the guns of the enemy.
However, fundamental changes in the design of tanks for 100 years, almost did not happen is a secure passive armor tracked vehicles armed with large-caliber gun placed in a rotating tower. This conservatism allows many theorists of the art of war to predict the imminent failure of the armies from the main battle tanks that have the mass turned into heavy. It is assumed that the choice will be made in favor of the speed platforms with smart weapons on Board. Futurists also predict and does the replacement of the usual equipment for walking combat robots. So is there a future for tanks, and if so, how will they change?
Indeed, today almost every major country is developing not only walking robotic platforms, but full anthropoid robots, the maximum repeating features creators. However, these developments are in their infancy and it is highly unlikely that in the next half-century, they will generally be adopted, not to mention the replacement of the main strike force of land armies. Thus, at this time, the tanks will continue to not only dominate on the battlefield, but also to develop.
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Despite the fact that the main distinguishing feature of the tanks is its protection, but the main focus will be on weapons. Practice has shown that a much safer first to detect the enemy and hit the target than to hope that the projectile opponent will not be able to penetrate the defense of the machine.
In this direction there are four basic trends. The first is the replacement of gunpowder in ammunition other explosives. The potential in this area is a truly huge, with different compositions in two or more times to increase the initial speed of the projectile. By and large, electrochemical instruments, will allow to refuse combat units of ammunition, because the kinetic energy of the normal metal bars will be enough to defeat virtually any purpose.
But electrochemical guns, there are drawbacks. The main one is the instability of the power of the explosion of ammunition, created on the counterparts of gunpowder. Because of this, even automation will be difficult to predict how far and how fast to go «Lom», which means that the accuracy of electrochemical guns leaves much to be desired.
Another option is the railguns. The United States a few years have developed such tools for its fleet, but, as recently revealed, even for modern ships, the railguns proved to be useless. To date, the main obstacle for them is the enormous expenditure of energy. In the tank is simply nowhere to place giant batteries for them.
Photo source: wikipedia.org
The third scenario tested a long time. In the years of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev expressed the hope that in the foreseeable future, in principle, the tanks would lose guns and to use missiles. Today, almost any machine with a smoothbore gun capable of producing ATGM through the barrel. However, these missiles have a fairly large size and considerable cost. To participate in the «small victorious war» they fit great, but in terms of a global conflict to supply ATGM thousands of tanks would be extremely difficult.
Modern tank builders go the easy way of increasing the caliber and creation of new alloys for armor-piercing shells. So, in Russia it is planned to put the 152-mm gun 2A83 on the T-14. In the United States intend in the future to make the 140 mm XM291 gun for its «Abrams». Not far behind, and German engineers, though with a slightly smaller caliber – 130mm Rheinmetall L55.
Thus, any change in armament is not expected. Accordingly, from the protection systems of innovations wait also don’t have to. Passive armor will be improved through the use of new alloys and ceramic fillers. Much more attention, the designers focused on the active protection. KAZ will continue to «get smarter» and learn to shoot down enemy projectiles in flight.
Also little change and undergo the platforms themselves. In some countries there have been attempts to create a wheeled tanks, which led to an increase in average travel speed on roads. However, on rough terrain tracked platform is still in the lead for the cross. Could remember about the experiments with air cushions, however, to rise in the air of 50 tons of armor will require an enormous expenditure of energy.
Photo source: wikipedia.org
The only area where we can expect breakthroughs in the foreseeable future is robotics and automation systems. On the Russian T-14 already installed an uninhabited tower. The same remotely controlled turrets are placed and on other platforms. High probability that in the near future, the crew of machines can be reduced to two people – a driver and commander. Computers and external sensors will automatically count the shots, and hence the need for the gunner will disappear. The commander of the machine is enough to give the order to attack, and automation will do everything herself.
By and large, «smart» appliances could manage one person, but it is unlikely that the military will take that risk. Such was the case with the Russian helicopter «Black shark», in which one pilot controlled every system. However, the military chose not to subject military of such enormous loads.
Given the described development options it is safe to note that to date, Russia with his «Armata» is the leader in the world tank manufacturing. Trying to keep up with the German designers, who introduce in Leopard advanced systems of fire and communication. Their example is followed by the French engineers, created one of the most expensive tanks in the world. The Pentagon also is focusing on «advanced technologies», which although looks promising, but rarely find a real use. Skate American remains of tank armor that is created with the use of dining uranium.