PLA Next Generation Main Battle Tank


dankris

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The most interesting discussion would be about the effectiveness of the two man+AI crew. I have some doubts as to how well those two cremen would be able to share tasks and exchange roles when needed. Specifically the controls each have are different, however the fact that the commander´s controls rotate like a wheel, on the vertical plane unlike traditional soviet/russian/PLA gun handles, may point to that he may drive the tank when needed and the driver can operate the main gun. However since the controls are not exactly mirrored, the extent to which each crewmen can perform the other´s tasks is questionable. As for the AI, well, we can´t say much for the moment so we cannot speculate much about how it compensates the lack of a dedicated gunner.

(Sorry for the double post, i exceeded the 5 minutes so i couldn´t edit my previous comment)
Disclaimer: Just speculation.
Here's an idea for the AI. Maybe they'll train it with image recognition and let it roll with an independent AI-controlled sight that helps the commander find more targets. AI finds what it thinks is a target, alert the commander, highlights the target, and let the commander proceed to the identification. at the same time the commander can survey the area with his own optics just in case the AI misses some targets due to camouflage/ interference/ incomplete image recognition training, etc.

I also hope they mount 360-degree cameras with HMD on the helmet for the tankers, kinda like Israeli's IronVision (DAS for tanks, anyone?). Better yet, combine the Tank DAS with AI so it's more efficient in the target searching (DAS for the general horizon search, optics for detail recognition of target of interest, then alert commander if the search passes both tests; he'll make the final judgement). That might bump the cost up significantly tho, so we'll see.

What I'm also interested in is the hybrid propulsion that's creating a lot of buzz rn. I think putting electric motors with a couple of generators and batteries will go a long way for futureproofing it. Batteries are getting cheaper and continue to increase in capacity, so it'll be really beneficial for the silent "Sneeki Breeki" mode when they need to make as little sound as possible.
 
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Dishi

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There is a hull front section that may suggest that´s where the base armor will be placed...seems way to thin IMO. As for the turret, fits the definition of clusterf*ck, i don't know why there are more sights than crewmen (it would make sense if both main gun sights were placed on the turret sides, not one on a rational position and the other just over the gun tube), and the placement of certain equipment seems way to weird for my taste: smoke grenades in the base of the turret? and the APS launchers which seem very similar to those of the AGS-5 system (that and the relatively small caliber may point to not being effective vs APFSDS?) fitted on the very top, even higher than the radars. On the other hand the size and separation of the crew hatches may point that there is enough space inside for a 3rd crewman...i don´t know, seems way too weird for the moment.
Actually having more sights than crewmen makes a lot of sense in a 4th gen MBT because of AI and sensor fusion. For a next gen tank, we need to breakthrough the traditional thinking of the hunter-killer doctrine with one set of sights per crewman. Much like in the automotive world were today we're already using multiple cameras fused with radar info distributed around the vehicle to generate a 360deg sensor fusion map with automatic target identification and threat assessment, the same can be applied to a tank, that the AI can be continuously looking and recognizing targets in all directions using multiple cameras and radars, and sharing that info with other weapon systems in the network.

This takes away workload from the crew, and your situation awareness is no longer limited by that only 2 pairs of eyes in the turret looking at only 2 directions at any point of time. The traditional role of spotting, identifying, and relaying target info to the gunner by the commander, and then ranging, aiming and engagement by the gunner, this whole kill chain, can be completely automated by sensor fusion and AI in a 4th gen MBT, and most likely you'll only need a weapons officer to confirm engagement to complete the kill chain.

That's why I think a two men crew can work if we include future tech like AI, sensor fusion and distributed sensing. Maintenance will be a pain for 2, but I believe the future armored battalions will have a bigger and more sophisticated service platoon that will specialize in this much like a typical army aviation regiment.

This topic is of special interest to me as I work on autonomous driving stuff and I've seen what the current state of art is capable of in terms of machine learning and vision target identification fused with radar and lidar ranging, and by extension how it can be applied to future warfare.
 

Dishi

New Member
Registered Member
Disclaimer: Just speculation.
Here's an idea for the AI. Maybe they'll train it with image recognition and let it roll with an independent AI-controlled sight that helps the commander find more targets. AI finds what it thinks is a target, alert the commander, highlights the target, and let the commander proceed to the identification. at the same time the commander can survey the area with his own optics just in case the AI misses some targets due to camouflage/ interference/ incomplete image recognition training, etc.

I also hope they mount 360-degree cameras with HMD on the helmet for the tankers, kinda like Israeli's IronVision (DAS for tanks, anyone?). Better yet, combine the Tank DAS with AI so it's more efficient in the target searching (DAS for the general horizon search, optics for detail recognition of target of interest, then alert commander if the search passes both tests; he'll make the final judgement). That might bump the cost up significantly tho, so we'll see.

What I'm also interested in is the hybrid propulsion that's creating a lot of buzz rn. I think putting electric motors with a couple of generators and batteries will go a long way for futureproofing it. Batteries are getting cheaper and continue to increase in capacity, so it'll be really beneficial for the silent "Sneeki Breeki" mode when they need to make as little sound as possible.
Agreed, hybrid drivetrain is must for the next gen tank imho. Future tanks will have a lot more sensors and electronics that will need exponentially more power than today's tanks. Also, unless we're gonna go for monstrous 140 or 152mm guns, future tank guns will probably go down the path of ETC guns, and along with possible usage of capacitive armor, the electrical demands will be massive.

Another major advantage of hybrid drives are that electric motors generate instantant max torque from a dig, which is wonderful for accelerating a something heavy like a tank in combat situations. It's the very reason Dr. Porsche did it on his elefant tanks, so it's not a new tech and our diesel electric locomotives have been doing that for decades now. Besides electric motors have less moving parts than a heavy duty transmission and likely have less maintenance and wear over long periods of use.

I think eventually tanks will go down the same path like the 055 destroyer with a full hybrid electric drive just because of the requirements for heavy power consumption in future weapon systems and sensors. That's why I also don't really consider the T-14 to be 4th gen yet as it is a mere continuation of 3rd tank design doctrine and principles, but if it's got a modular architecture then I believe upgrades like a hybrid power train can be upgraded fairly easily to make it truly 4th gen.
 

dankris

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Agreed, hybrid drivetrain is must for the next gen tank imho. Future tanks will have a lot more sensors and electronics that will need exponentially more power than today's tanks. Also, unless we're gonna go for monstrous 140 or 152mm guns, future tank guns will probably go down the path of ETC guns, and along with possible usage of capacitive armor, the electrical demands will be massive.

Another major advantage of hybrid drives are that electric motors generate instantant max torque from a dig, which is wonderful for accelerating a something heavy like a tank in combat situations. It's the very reason Dr. Porsche did it on his elefant tanks, so it's not a new tech and our diesel electric locomotives have been doing that for decades now. Besides electric motors have less moving parts than a heavy duty transmission and likely have less maintenance and wear over long periods of use.

I think eventually tanks will go down the same path like the 055 destroyer with a full hybrid electric drive just because of the requirements for heavy power consumption in future weapon systems and sensors. That's why I also don't really consider the T-14 to be 4th gen yet as it is a mere continuation of 3rd tank design doctrine and principles, but if it's got a modular architecture then I believe upgrades like a hybrid power train can be upgraded fairly easily to make it truly 4th gen.
For the guns I think they'll first go for ETC and ammo improvements before increasing caliber, mainly because larger caliber is more cumbersome, both in ammo and the gun itself. Only the laggards in material science and ETC tech will be forced to increase the caliber to maintain parity.

I beg to differ in the armor department. IMO the sheer amount of electricity needed to use the capacitive armor might be so big that it's not worth the time and effort needed to debug all the problems that comes with it.

Electric armor concept with function similar to ERA might be more viable. You would just need electromagnetic metal plates with insulator spacers in between, along with some electricity. when the projectile penetrates, it acts as a conductor of electricity that push/pull two metal plate together through electromagnetism, essentially doing the job of ERA, but instead of just explosion it could be explosion, implosion, or both at the same time.

I also disagree with some part of your statement about electric motors. Electric motors might be an old concept, but the modern motors is so much more improved compared to the old concept that implying "it's not new, so it shouldn't be that hard" doesn't do it justice IMO.
 

Mt1701d

Junior Member
Registered Member
This is a bit of a fanboy question, and is not directly related to the next gen MBT, so I will apologise first, but I couldn’t think of a better thread to put this and the question doesn’t really deserve a separate thread, so please hear me out, and any response would be much appreciated.

I was wondering whether a combination bustle and carousel auto-loader system would be viable?
For current carousel autoloaders, the shell and the propelling charges is placed together either the one above the other like the T72, T90 and Type 96 (I think) or in a L shape, like the T64 and T80, I am not sure which the Type 99 uses.

Anyway, so my thinking was whether the shells can be double stacked or stagger stacked in the carousel loader around the turret and the propelling charge placed in a bustle loader on the turret also double stacked one in the front and one in the back for each ‘slot’ in the magazine or double magazine one behind the other or one on left and one on the right, with the central section empty for the rammer.

The shell will be brought up to level with the breech and pushed into the breech, with the propelling charge by the rammer from the bustle loader section and have a casing ejector similar to the T72 or other methods of ejecting the casing.

There will definitely be more complexity in the system but could potentially have more readied shells without further makeshift manual loading by the crew, assuming the crew is in the turret. Or if a completely automated turret is designed then there would be more readied ammo available to continue fighting assuming the tank is still in working order.

That’s my thinking, much appreciated if anyone have any thoughts on whether this is something viable or is it just too complex with too many things that can go wrong. Since the PLA have experience with both styles of autoloaders, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to design something with both features.
 
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Dishi

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Registered Member
This is a bit of a fanboy question, and is not directly related to the next gen MBT, so I will apologise first, but I couldn’t think of a better thread to put this and the question doesn’t really deserve a separate thread, so please hear me out, and any response would be much appreciated.

I was wondering whether a combination bustle and carousel auto-loader system would be viable?
For current carousel autoloaders, the shell and the propelling charges is placed together either the one above the other like the T72, T90 and Type 96 (I think) or in a L shape, like the T64 and T80, I am not sure which the Type 99 uses.

Anyway, so my thinking was whether the shells can be double stacked or stagger stacked in the carousel loader around the turret and the propelling charge placed in a bustle loader on the turret also double stacked one in the front and one in the back for each ‘slot’ in the magazine or double magazine one behind the other or one on left and one on the right, with the central section empty for the rammer.

The shell will be brought up to level with the breech and pushed into the breech, with the propelling charge by the rammer from the bustle loader section and have a casing ejector similar to the T72 or other methods of ejecting the casing.

There will definitely be more complexity in the system but could potentially have more readied shells without further makeshift manual loading by the crew, assuming the crew is in the turret. Or if a completely automated turret is designed then there would be more readied ammo available to continue fighting assuming the tank is still in working order.

That’s my thinking, much appreciated if anyone have any thoughts on whether this is something viable or is it just too complex with too many things that can go wrong. Since the PLA have experience with both styles of autoloaders, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to design something with both features.
Personally I think that's unnecessary and needlessly complex. I'd think that the next gen mbt will probably go back to a carousel autoloader design. The carousel design have a few distinct advantages, low center of gravity and hence chassis stability, better protection due to having armor and equipment from all sides for protection and low probability of hit as it is in the hull, smaller turret leading to a smaller target silhouette.

Bustle loaders causes the tank to have a heavy and oversized turret, presenting a large target that can't be well protected from all sides, its main reason for adoption is for crew survivability due blow out panels on top, but this is not a necessary for an unmanned turret. The main problem with traditional carousel loaders is crew survivability after penetration as there's no effective compartmentalization, which again is not a problem anymore in an unmanned turret.

So you can see that the eastern and western approach to survivability is drastically different, eastern bloc tanks focuses on not getting hit or penetrated in the first place whereas western tank focuses on crew survivability after penetration.

With an unmanned turrent, you can combine the advantages of both philosophies by reducing hit probability using a carousel loader and crew survivability through isolating the crew from the ammo. Also, if the carousel loader is designed to have the rounds placed vertically similar to the TTB concept shown here, you could potentially have enough space within the turret ring for 35-45 rounds which is a typical combat load for a mbt, thus there will be no extra need for another bustle storage/loader compartment. And an additional benefit is that this will provide vertical growth space one piece ammo and longer penetrators, which was a limitation that has plagued the traditional 2 piece ammo carousel loaders in most eastern bloc tank designs.
 

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alanch90

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This is a bit of a fanboy question, and is not directly related to the next gen MBT, so I will apologise first, but I couldn’t think of a better thread to put this and the question doesn’t really deserve a separate thread, so please hear me out, and any response would be much appreciated.

I was wondering whether a combination bustle and carousel auto-loader system would be viable?
For current carousel autoloaders, the shell and the propelling charges is placed together either the one above the other like the T72, T90 and Type 96 (I think) or in a L shape, like the T64 and T80, I am not sure which the Type 99 uses.

Anyway, so my thinking was whether the shells can be double stacked or stagger stacked in the carousel loader around the turret and the propelling charge placed in a bustle loader on the turret also double stacked one in the front and one in the back for each ‘slot’ in the magazine or double magazine one behind the other or one on left and one on the right, with the central section empty for the rammer.

The shell will be brought up to level with the breech and pushed into the breech, with the propelling charge by the rammer from the bustle loader section and have a casing ejector similar to the T72 or other methods of ejecting the casing.

There will definitely be more complexity in the system but could potentially have more readied shells without further makeshift manual loading by the crew, assuming the crew is in the turret. Or if a completely automated turret is designed then there would be more readied ammo available to continue fighting assuming the tank is still in working order.

That’s my thinking, much appreciated if anyone have any thoughts on whether this is something viable or is it just too complex with too many things that can go wrong. Since the PLA have experience with both styles of autoloaders, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to design something with both features.

Any kind ammunition storage in the bustle requires armor protection. If you have a manned turret, you already have plenty of armor placed on the turret and that also protects the ammo stored in the bustle. Now, if you want to go with an unmanned turret, bustle storage just defeats the whole concept and will make the turret physically larger target. The main benefit of having an unmanned turret is that you don´t need to place heavy armor there, only just enough to stop something like an autocannon. So for an unmanned turret it just makes sense having the ammo and autoloader placed in the hull in a fully closed compartment.
 

Mt1701d

Junior Member
Registered Member
Personally I think that's unnecessary and needlessly complex. I'd think that the next gen mbt will probably go back to a carousel autoloader design. The carousel design have a few distinct advantages, low center of gravity and hence chassis stability, better protection due to having armor and equipment from all sides for protection and low probability of hit as it is in the hull, smaller turret leading to a smaller target silhouette.

Bustle loaders causes the tank to have a heavy and oversized turret, presenting a large target that can't be well protected from all sides, its main reason for adoption is for crew survivability due blow out panels on top, but this is not a necessary for an unmanned turret. The main problem with traditional carousel loaders is crew survivability after penetration as there's no effective compartmentalization, which again is not a problem anymore in an unmanned turret.

So you can see that the eastern and western approach to survivability is drastically different, eastern bloc tanks focuses on not getting hit or penetrated in the first place whereas western tank focuses on crew survivability after penetration.

With an unmanned turrent, you can combine the advantages of both philosophies by reducing hit probability using a carousel loader and crew survivability through isolating the crew from the ammo. Also, if the carousel loader is designed to have the rounds placed vertically similar to the TTB concept shown here, you could potentially have enough space within the turret ring for 35-45 rounds which is a typical combat load for a mbt, thus there will be no extra need for another bustle storage/loader compartment. And an additional benefit is that this will provide vertical growth space one piece ammo and longer penetrators, which was a limitation that has plagued the traditional 2 piece ammo carousel loaders in most eastern bloc tank designs.
Any kind ammunition storage in the bustle requires armor protection. If you have a manned turret, you already have plenty of armor placed on the turret and that also protects the ammo stored in the bustle. Now, if you want to go with an unmanned turret, bustle storage just defeats the whole concept and will make the turret physically larger target. The main benefit of having an unmanned turret is that you don´t need to place heavy armor there, only just enough to stop something like an autocannon. So for an unmanned turret it just makes sense having the ammo and autoloader placed in the hull in a fully closed compartment.
Thanks for answering and the interesting opinion and info.
I had thought that this would be something that might be too/needlessly complex and unnecessary to consider, there were two main reasons as to why I asked, first of which, was the potential for the compatibility of ammo, both for current ammo usage by the new tank and the backwards compatibility of any new ammo developed, considering the likelihood that the next gen tank will be using a 125mm gun like the current 96s and 99s, which would be limited by their carousel loaders, logistics and supply would likely be a consideration for the new tank, thus the thinking was that the new tank would be able to use the current rounds and any new rounds would probably be a separate loaded round to allow the currently deployed tanks to be able to use too. The second reason was the reusing of current components or similar enough components, for the ease of manufacturing or potential interchangeability.

I have to say, I hadn’t really considered the design doctrines and the possible vulnerability issues. The TTB carousel loader design is interesting, and I can imagine the possibility to have a carousel design based on the TTB design that would be able to handle both separate loaded and fixed shell ammo too, should the future direction be moving towards that.

Again thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 

Biscuits

Junior Member
Registered Member
A tank hit by something that penetrates the hull is almost always dead, and so is the crew.

It is way more important to armor up the tank to make it harder to pen, in that regard the carousel autoloader is more suitable. Type 99s for example manage to have a very good armor to crew member/size ratio which is what would determine survivability.

Next generation tank would be determined by Army needs. Type 99As were built during the collapse of the Soviet Union and potentially also eyeing an American invasion of Korea, in that context a tank that could withstand waves of soviet or american armor was needed, so what they got was a good gun on a hardened platform that sacrifices reload speed from having a dedicated loader for more armor and smaller size.

In 2020 the needs are different. India immediately comes to mind. China might preferably want a breakthrough type tank, maybe even one that can act as troop transport.
 

Mt1701d

Junior Member
Registered Member
A tank hit by something that penetrates the hull is almost always dead, and so is the crew.

It is way more important to armor up the tank to make it harder to pen, in that regard the carousel autoloader is more suitable. Type 99s for example manage to have a very good armor to crew member/size ratio which is what would determine survivability.

Next generation tank would be determined by Army needs. Type 99As were built during the collapse of the Soviet Union and potentially also eyeing an American invasion of Korea, in that context a tank that could withstand waves of soviet or american armor was needed, so what they got was a good gun on a hardened platform that sacrifices reload speed from having a dedicated loader for more armor and smaller size.

In 2020 the needs are different. India immediately comes to mind. China might preferably want a breakthrough type tank, maybe even one that can act as troop transport.
Hmmm... tbh, I think the primary mission for the next gen tank would be similar to the 99a, being the primary combatants against western MBTs. 2/3 crew with a chassis layout similar to the T14, at least that’s from the concept shared by @RichardGao, if 2 crew, then the gunner will likely be replaced with AI, target selected by commander and AI does the rest.

I don’t think the MBT-APC concept would be likely for PLA, but I can see possibly an APC/IFV with the same chassis as the next gen tank as base with a reworked layout working in conjunction, as support, with the next gen tank as a breakthrough unit tho. I think a possible scenario would be a front engine and driver layout similar to the layout of a new IFV seen in the IFV thread shared by @Dishi, see below, with an IFV, something akin to VN17, or Type 15-esque turret.

Some renders and new photos of the next gen 8x8 ifv and assault gun, photos from
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