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What does the tank market look like after the Russian-Ukrainian war?


TTK Ciar

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Reading https://archive.ph/qPVLd got me thinking (again) of tank availability once the dust settles.

The Russians are estimated to have lost more than two thousand tanks in the war, so far.  The North Koreans are selling(?) them an unforeclosed number of vehicles, which might include tanks.  China, too, might be supplying tanks to the Russians.  Meanwhile, several nations have donated tanks to Ukraine, some a few dozen, others a hundred or more.

It seems very likely that more thousands of tanks, from both sides, will get ground up in the conflict before it is over.

After the conflict is over, how many tanks will anyone have to spare for their export markets?  The Russians will be rebuilding what they have lost for a long time.  If the Ukrainians are smart they will hold on to whatever tanks remain in their inventory.  The Czechs are building units hand over fist, but how much demand will they be able to satisfy?

Might the Japanese be tempted to export their Type-95 fleet?  Will the Chinese fill the vaccuum?  Might tank production restart in countries which ended their domestic tank projects?  The Germans are building a new tank factory in Ukraine, but will it be cranking out units for export, or for Germany and Ukraine?

Or will there just be a prolonged global shortage?

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It depends on the willingness of the world to buy from new suppliers, and from certain coutires to export their weapons. Spontaneously, I'm thinking of South Korea, Turkey, Pakistan, China. I don't expect European production ramping up to fulfill more than European needs to restock and build up fleets of adequate size. Poland may also become a tank exporter if the Koreans let them do so, after their own build-up is complete, which will still take a good while. Brazil seems to have some domestic capacity for at least light armored vehicles, but I don't think they have ambitions to become a leading armored vehicle exporter. Australia may also start exporting, but probably mostly back to Europe.

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The Czechs aren't producing any tanks, they'll be buying new ones from abroad, most likely Leopard 2A8s. That would be another recent order for Germany, following Italy, Norway and Lithuania (and the deliveries for Hungarian order from 2018 are still in progress).

Poland won't be able to export any tanks in a long time if the current goals are to be met. In addition to 366 M1s and 180 Korean-built K2s the MoD wants as many as 820 K2PLs produced under license, which means a decade or more. Well, there may be 200+ used Leopards for sale in a decade or so.

Romania apparently wants 326 new tanks, 54 of which are already ordered M1s, it looks like the remaining 276 may be K2s - maybe licensed, maybe not.

South Korea has gigantic tank production capabilities, maybe on par or larger than the US and larger than Europe. I expect them to be the primary winners in 'Western' tank market, followed by the US, then Germany. I don't expect UK or France to revive their tank industry. Japanese tanks are in a very low rate production, 10 a year or so, ramping that up would be quite a challenge.

I expect that China may try to fill a 'Russian' niche here and there while Russia is rebuilding, though in some cases the South Koreans will have the opportunity to do so as well - for example if Vietnam (or some other countries having the beef with Beijing) decides to buy some new tanks, they sure as hell won't come from China.

I don't expect Russia to buy tanks from China other than as some emergency/stopgap measure, most likely they'll use their industry to replace own losses (which means there won't be that much to spare for exports).

Edited by urbanoid
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Britain has already sorta kinda revived the industry. At least in major components, because we can now build tank turrets, thanks to our German friends. At the moment its unlikely seeing us go all the way to builidng new hulls, but its not wholly inconceivable either if a defence review suddenly figures out we are about 100 tanks short, and sees it as a convienient way to restart some heavy industry.

Whether anyone else will want to buy them is another thing. My own view is, it commends adopting a common tank and having everyone else in Europe building them, because its production capacity that is the problem, not design capacity. We could all quite happily go ahead and build more leopard 2's, assuming of course Germany abandons the need for a new MBT. But to make that work is going to mean common pricing, and whenever there is a new order, ensure everyone contributes to it to keep the lines open. You can see why the French are not going to go for it as an idea.

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The tank market is likely to revitalize in terms of output numbers in Europe. The US is likely to stay on course but generally fast track some modernization programs that may include armor as well. Israel will remain exactly the same because it's constantly producing tanks (~30 annually), and maybe ramp up if some orders for the Merkava come in again. 

Russia is likely to present a T-55M Obr.2024 in the Army 2024 expo.

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18 hours ago, TTK Ciar said:

 

Might the Japanese be tempted to export their Type-95 fleet?  Will the Chinese fill the vaccuum?  Might tank production restart in countries which ended their domestic tank projects?  The Germans are building a new tank factory in Ukraine, but will it be cranking out units for export, or for Germany and Ukraine?

Or will there just be a prolonged global shortage?

Japan no longer produces the Type 95. that was more than half a century ago.

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33 minutes ago, Helmutkohl said:

Japan no longer produces the Type 95. that was more than half a century ago.

Oops, I meant to say Type-90.

It stands to reason they might want to divest themselves of their remaining Type-90s and replace them with more modern tanks, like their Type-10.  Exporting their Type-90s would allow them to recoup some of the costs of the new Type-10 builds.

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Depends on whether you're looking at warmed over updates of existing equipment or post-Ukraine experience new designs.

There are effectively only two(*) "Western" players for MBT class vehicles of current and incrementally improved designs, and only two for what might be called "Russian influenced" design. I presume that Russia will attempt to fund its own fleet reconstruction and/or upgrade by exporting at the same time, and China might become an exporter exploiting potential claims that their own developments aren't tainted by a likely perception or poor performance for T-72 etc. in Ukraine.

Note that I'm not claiming that Russian tanks have performed poorly as designs, just that their use in Ukraine has been observed to be below par, which can be due to poor design, poor doctrine, poor training, bad commanding or just that flying turrets make good internet videos.

It should be clear that there is limited mileage in incremental improvements in current western products, due primarily to weight issues, so expect that one or both of the Western offerings beyond current and very near-term orders will have to focus on the new designs that are being promoted.

(*) Obviously Worst Korea needs to be included as well as the US and Germany, but I hesitate to include it as "Western" because the geography mis-match triggers my inner nerd.

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6 minutes ago, DB said:

Note that I'm not claiming that Russian tanks have performed poorly as designs

The T-72's dense integration of main gun propellant, barely contained fuel tanks, and crew objectively is a bad design. It's known to be bad since at least Desert Storm, and the rather shocking thing is that Russia hasn't really done much to mitigate this, except reducing the amount of free-floating propellant in the crew compartment.

In all fairness, the survival rate of the crews is better than the design and all the detached turrets suggest, but generally at least the late Leopard 2 models seem to perform well enough despite the same fundamental problem, shared space of crew and ammunition.

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I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn't assert that it was a good or bad design, so was equivocal.

Current operational use suggests that the most significant flaw is having propellant/HE storage in the areas that are most likely to be hit by ATGMs, although we only have an apparent correlation between fewer flung turrets and claims that tankers are downloading to avoid using the more vulnerable storage locations to "prove" this.

I have not been persuaded by any of the claims of improved survivability of western tanks over T-series tanks simply because I consider every account of such to be either from an unreliable source (i.e. official government reporting) or by third-rate amateurs trying to provide visual analysis from potato-cam tik-toks and telegrams, not to mention statistically insignificant numbers of engagements. Every survivor of every tank engagement so far could be just the right side of a lucky die roll.

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2 hours ago, TrustMe said:

There's Y-tube videos of Turkish Leopard 2A4's getting blown up by Kurdish Communists insurgents operating MANPATS in Syria.

Hence my qualifying remarks about the "late" Leopard 2 variants (the 2A4 isn't one), and "well enough" which suggests that they are not immune to enemy action.

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2 hours ago, DB said:

very survivor of every tank engagement so far could be just the right side of a lucky die roll.

I think too many tanks have been killed in the Ukrainian theater to discard them as lucky events, or an insufficient sample size. Obviously, publicly available BDA is severely limited, to the surprise of nobody.

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Russian tanks have more problems than just the old outdated design concept.

1, electronics. They are far inferior to western designs, and increasingly even to China. No modern APS, no BMS, no modern communication systems, etc.

2, automotive components. Lateral gearboxes are hopelessly outdated now. Not a single serial russian tank is equipped with modern hydromechanical transmission. Engines are also problematic. "V" diesels do not meet modern standards. Not only performance, but also in service life and reliability. (significantly deteriorated even to older soviet engines, like V46, V84, 5TDF, etc.) And there is nothing to replace them...

I may be wrong, but in my opinion, in the "eastern bloc" Russia lost the market to China. Chinese tanks provide the same firepower, and are increasingly superior in the above categories. They may have weaker protection, and have some questionable design choices, but all in all, they are better quality tanks than anything Russia can produce. Rebuilding the army after the war just makes this worse, for several years, there will be no production capacity for export. 

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A reduced market to everyone except Europeans with guilty feeling . I expect the wheel tanks destroyers to have some more market since second hand tank market is all going to Ukraine War.

I am not seeing any Latin America, Africa wanting to put their money into tanks, same for most Middle East, Africa and most Asia.

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21 hours ago, TTK Ciar said:

Oops, I meant to say Type-90.

It stands to reason they might want to divest themselves of their remaining Type-90s and replace them with more modern tanks, like their Type-10.  Exporting their Type-90s would allow them to recoup some of the costs of the new Type-10 builds.

ok that makes sense

 

but im not sure if Japan wants to get rid of its type 90s for type 10s.  There is a huge size and weight difference between them, with the Type 10 being closer towards a lighter tank like some of the Soviet T series. My understanding is that the Type 10 is supposed to supplement the Type 90s, not replace them.  The type 90s are intended for use in Hokkaido which has more flat space. But realistically, either way, I can't see Japan exporting its tanks anytime soon, even with recent export policy changes.

Current tank producers seem to be limited to Japan, South Korea, China, Germany, India, Turkey, and the US as far as new builds go.
the UK is basically upgrading their Challenger 2s into 3s.  Not sure if the Merkava Mk5 are new builds or upgrades. 

 

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In Poland there is right now going a lot between PGZ/WZM and GDLS in terms of building Regional Service Center for M1 Abrams MBT's. However as it was often pointed out, if Polish MoD would order more M1's (including any next generation variants within "Wilk" ("Wolf") MBT program), production of new tanks could be also moved to Poland.

When it comes to K2PL, right now PGZ/WZM is modernizing one large production hall where vehicles will be assembled, and also PGZ bought HCP plant, where K2PL turrets and hulls will be fabricated. At least within current plans.

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9 hours ago, Helmutkohl said:

Not sure if the Merkava Mk5 are new builds or upgrades. 

Those are Merkava 4, not 5, and Israel is a tank producing country with an annual production rate of 30 units. It also produces the Namer at an identical rate, and soon the Eitan as well at a higher rate.

All are new builds. Israel doesn't upgrade old tanks unless there's an urgent need. Rather, it cycles them into reserve units and from there it retired them. A tank in Israel lives about 30 years from the moment it's produced until retirement.

 

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20 hours ago, Ssnake said:

I think too many tanks have been killed in the Ukrainian theater to discard them as lucky events, or an insufficient sample size. Obviously, publicly available BDA is severely limited, to the surprise of nobody.

How many credible reports do we have? To draw reasonable conclusions we need to know significant detail about the nature of the engagement, not least of which would be specific tank variant and actual level of protection, and nature of casualties.

I suppose there may have been enough T-series and derivatives to theoretically get that information, but it's unlikely to be true for a "Western" versus "Russian" comparison.

Even getting statistically significant results to separate T-64 from T-72 will be tricky, and that before you split out the various build standards. Colour me sceptical.

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I have posted it before, loses of crewmen per tank KOd in Yugoslav wars, for T-72/M-84 was 1 KIA per tank KOd, which is comparable to Russian reports from Chechen wars (IIRC slightly higher, 1.1), and to Israeli ones from 1973, again IIRC, 1.2 KIA per tank KOd. We can reasonably assume that those numbers would be ~ballpark estimate for T-64/72/80/90 in Ukraine.

What we need is reliable stats for Leo 2.

Edited by bojan
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Also, I really don't get K2 hype. It has pathetic side armor (50mm plain steel on turret, ~40mm on hull), making it extremely vulnerable to just about anything hitting it from the side, including 25-30mm automatic cannons. It's front armor protection is full of weakened zones, front armor protection is smaller (at least in size, and that is somewhat indicative) than protection of Leo 2 and M1, ammo is not fully separated from crew etc, etc.

Type 10 is same, but it is at least it is ~10t lighter than K2, so it has at least some excuse for that.

Edited by bojan
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You get a free jar of kimchi and a voucher for a pair of (wired, 3.5mm, 2018 model, though -- can't have you get the latest Bluetooth stuff) Samsung earphones for every K2 purchased. And a BTS figurine.

K2PL did at least try to resolve the insufficient lateral (turret) armor as a prerequisite for its purchase by Poland, but...eh. I guess it's a question of pricing (yes, I know the K2 isn't exactly cheap, but prices can be negotiated) and willingness to let it be licensed for production abroad?

Edited by Renegade334
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2 hours ago, bojan said:

We can reasonably assume that those numbers would be ~ballpark estimate for T-64/72/80/90 in Ukraine.

Depends what kills tanks in Ukraine vs Yugoslavia. I would speculate that at least ATGW destructive capabilities increased and artillery might be more precise.

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4 hours ago, lucklucky said:

Depends what kills tanks in Ukraine vs Yugoslavia.

IIRC artillery, mines, ATGMs, tank/ATG fire, portable AT weapons, in order of most common to least common.

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I would speculate that at least ATGW destructive capabilities increased...

If there is a penetration of armor it mostly does not really matter which particular model of ATGM it was. In tests, Sagger and other non-precision HEAT jets collapse easier than more modern ones, leading to a higher spread of jet particles post penetration, so Sagger, provided it can penetrate will potentially lead to more damage inside than modern ATGM like Javelin. But differences are not that large and it is questionable if that matters in grand scheme of things.

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 and artillery might be more precise.

Yes, and so what? Artillery was no.1 cause of tank loses in Yugoslav wars (except Kosovo, but my data is for Croatia in 1991) also.

 

5 hours ago, Renegade334 said:

...but prices can be negotiated) and willingness to let it be licensed for production abroad?

I get the reason Poland is buying it, it's cost, if rumors are true is only ~50-60% of new Leopard 2 or M1, and it is available right now. What I don't get is internet hype about it as "great tank". It is OKish, but compromises a lot of aspects heavily, and is not even that light (unlike Type 10). Also, unlike Leo and M1 it does not have decades of service that  have ironed out (inevitable for any new AFV) bugs.

Edited by bojan
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4 hours ago, bojan said:

Also, I really don't get K2 hype. It has pathetic side armor (50mm plain steel on turret, ~40mm on hull), making it extremely vulnerable to just about anything hitting it from the side, including 25-30mm automatic cannons. It's front armor protection is full of weakened zones, front armor protection is smaller (at least in size, and that is somewhat indicative) than protection of Leo 2 and M1, ammo is not fully separated from crew etc, etc.

Type 10 is same, but it is at least it is ~10t lighter than K2, so it has at least some excuse for that.

@Damian is the guy to ask here.

Apparently K2 has superb fire direction with lots of advanced features.

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