PLA Next Generation Main Battle Tank


Heliox

Junior Member
Registered Member
Unless tanks can float and traverse across anything or have tracks that can’t be jammed by mud or whatever nature likes to throw at them and have zero problems that normally would require people to fix them while meeting the same requirements as that of modern day tanks, I don’t think that will ever happen.

I'll play devil's advocate here cos I'm curious to see where this could lead.

One of the main benefits of removing the squishies from the AFV is reducing the volume that needs to be armoured up. Removing or shrinking the crew compartment should, in theory, significantly reduce volume and weight of the platform while maintaining the same prot levels.

The problems you are throwing up are mainly admin/mobility related issues. As per the speedbumps you described, if you can achieve a significant decrease in the weight of the AFV, you significantly reduce many of the problems caused by weight of the AFV itself.

It'll also be interesting to explore a change in conops for a 2 man crewed AFV where a full crew of 4 is still assigned to each AFV except that the remaining 2 are in a follow on element. If they are trained to the same level, they can tag-team and crew the AFV in shifts allowing for a higher opstempo that was previously limited by crew endurance and go pills. If not, at the very least they can still marry up for admin of the vehicle or other problems that require more hands. I know the most common gripe of a smaller crew is that the same amount of shit still needs to be cleaned at endex.

If we can get full autonomous AFVs, then the shift will be even more drastic. Now, instead of being the noble knight in his metal steed, the tankee will be more akin to the drone operators - providing man-in-loop input and support from a remote location way out of harms way.

The point is, the number of hands assigned to each platform can be kept fairly constant. Shrinking the numbers actually crewing the platform opens up potential advantages that can be explored.

The one caveat is that the 2-man crew has to be able to fight as well as a 3/4 man crewed AFV. Something I don't quite see happening given the current tech.
 

TK3600

Junior Member
Registered Member
i dont see 2 men crew being good for a general purpose vehicle like MBT, but something specialized role can sacrifice certain level of situation awareness if it is constantly supported by vehicles of other types. For example, a tank destroyer that is relatively defensive in nature can give up situation awareness because it is in safer area, while use reduced crew for more armor and heavier weapon.
 

TerraN_EmpirE

Tyrant King
That’s true yet now instead of one disabled tank you have two. So basically you get to my earlier statement the less the crew the more you need to demand the Recovery vehicle. Because even small repair requires both hands eyes and security.
 

alanch90

New Member
Registered Member
That’s true yet now instead of one disabled tank you have two. So basically you get to my earlier statement the less the crew the more you need to demand the Recovery vehicle. Because even small repair requires both hands eyes and security.
Having a smaller crew enables a complete reestructuring of the whole tank unit. I imagine you can have a "squad" of maintenance dedicated soldiers attached to every tank platoon taking care of the tanks and riding behind the tanks from a safe distance in an APC. Just like a pilot doesn´t do maintenance on its fighter jet, a 2 man crew wouldn´t have to or they can help the maintenance soldiers. With this kind of structure, in case a tank needs maintenance you can have its crew (2 people) plus a whole 6-9 men squad instead of the 3 men as of today. Added benefits are less personal exposed at the frontline and smaller, lighter tanks.
 

TK3600

Junior Member
Registered Member
Regardless of the trade offs of 2 men crew we can all agree it will be a major change in tank's structure and how it works. An undertaking like that needs a more cautious approach, such as making both the 2 men tank and 3 men tank in same generation to see how it works in practice, and a fall back plan in case it fails.
 

TerraN_EmpirE

Tyrant King
Having a smaller crew enables a complete reestructuring of the whole tank unit. I imagine you can have a "squad" of maintenance dedicated soldiers attached to every tank platoon taking care of the tanks and riding behind the tanks from a safe distance in an APC. Just like a pilot doesn´t do maintenance on its fighter jet, a 2 man crew wouldn´t have to or they can help the maintenance soldiers. With this kind of structure, in case a tank needs maintenance you can have its crew (2 people) plus a whole 6-9 men squad instead of the 3 men as of today. Added benefits are less personal exposed at the frontline and smaller, lighter tanks.
A fighter jet or aircraft are low operating times but high maintenance. Max time of operation is during ferrying flights with actual combat operations being a few hours. Fixing an engine problem for a fighter or attack chopper in the air is impossible. To do so requires an airport of some type. If it breaks down and lacks some reserve engine it’s a crater.
Tanks are long operating times moderate maintenance. If it breaks down it will do so on the ground and often at the front. The 2 man vehicle concept does have some potential advantages however its detractions are very high. Yes smaller and lighter tank as already seen in 3 man tanks however the cost is sustainability.
First a tank is intended to operate over 24 hours and potentially for weeks of operation. A 2 man crew as such would have to be operating at least one man at station for 12 hour shifts. More likely for both men at station for the duration of operation. If we assume an absolute minimum of 6 hours of sleep for the crew that means 18 hours of operation. For short periods that might be sustainable a couple days but prolonged that’s going to have a cost on the crew. in terms of alertness, reliability and judgment.
The same technologies that would allow a 2 man crew would allow for a 3 man crew to shift and provide watch and coverage during 24 hours of operation.
Next unlike an aircraft which have a secured airbase to do maintenance, the majority of maintenance is going to be in the field. That means you are not just changing the oil or replacing a track but also pulling security. A 4-5 man crew has enough people to do so. A three man crew requires the RV.
The French when they moved to the Leclerc moved the extra man to the RV but the more you move to the RV the bigger the RV and the RV can’t be just an APC because it need to have the ability to store spare parts and be able to assist in the removal of large parts or even tow the whole tank out of a situation. So you basically end up with a recovery vehicle bigger than the tank. And very busy to, Because even minor work requires the RV. In an IFV or APC they can move to a smaller crew because they have their own security section and more than enough extra hands.
 

Heliox

Junior Member
Registered Member
First a tank is intended to operate over 24 hours and potentially for weeks of operation. A 2 man crew as such would have to be operating at least one man at station for 12 hour shifts. More likely for both men at station for the duration of operation. If we assume an absolute minimum of 6 hours of sleep for the crew that means 18 hours of operation. For short periods that might be sustainable a couple days but prolonged that’s going to have a cost on the crew. in terms of alertness, reliability and judgment.

The same technologies that would allow a 2 man crew would allow for a 3 man crew to shift and provide watch and coverage during 24 hours of operation.

That's not how duty rotation works out in the field. On a ship maybe but not for troops/tankees out in the field.

Your alert posture determines what portion of your force is on watch. Could be 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, whatever. This usually works in 2hr cycles so with a 1/3 alert posture you get 4hrs admin time out of 6hrs. With a 2/3 posture, you're getting 2hrs admin time out of 6hrs. You get the idea. Honestly, most of the time, you are OM and no one is getting any admin time.

Mind you, I'm careful to use the term admin time cos there's a looooong list of stuff to be done during admin time and sleep is the lowest on the list of to-dos. You clean, you fix, you plan, you brief, you eat, etc and only when there's absolutely nothing left to be done (rare), you sleep.

6hrs sleep per 24hrs is a dream that has never been realised. You'll be happy with 2hrs every 24hrs. Stimulant abuse is rife, trust me on this.

Yes, a 2 man crew is either fully alert or is on 1/2. Not fun
A 3 man crew can manage 1/3 which on paper sounds cool(er) until you realise that you are very rarely in that posture.

The only time you are on less than 1/2 alert is when your unit is pulled back, out of all potential contact but not behind a secured perimeter (like a camp)

Next unlike an aircraft which have a secured airbase to do maintenance, the majority of maintenance is going to be in the field. That means you are not just changing the oil or replacing a track but also pulling security. A 4-5 man crew has enough people to do so. A three man crew requires the RV.

Any failure that requires an RV/ARV means it's not solvable by the crew and/or sister tanks. Doesn't matter if it's a 2 man crew or 5 man crew.

The French when they moved to the Leclerc moved the extra man to the RV but the more you move to the RV the bigger the RV and the RV can’t be just an APC because it need to have the ability to store spare parts and be able to assist in the removal of large parts or even tow the whole tank out of a situation. So you basically end up with a recovery vehicle bigger than the tank. And very busy to, Because even minor work requires the RV. In an IFV or APC they can move to a smaller crew because they have their own security section and more than enough extra hands.

The ARV is a very specialised vehicle. If you have a lot of dismounts, it's pointless to put them in the ARV. Use a separate track carrier.

The benefit of being in a vehicle further back from the AFVs is that you could potentially be getting more proper rest than the poor sods standing watch at the pointy end. As suggested, you could then swap crews where possible to alleviate the problem of burnout in a 2 man crew.

I agree that 2 man AFV is not simple and there are (currrently) a lot of unsolvable problems but I doubt crewing issues are high on that list.

To me, the biggest problem with 2 man AFVs at the moment is you really need 1 man to locate, 1 man to engage and 1 man to drive. Until you can successfully automate one of those roles, you ain't going 2 man. And if you do, you're pretty much at UCAV already - so why not go 0 man crew ;)

OTOH, shrinking the AFV means bringing the weight down while retaining all other aspects. Moving from MLC70+ to MLC50- is a huuuuuge shift in the strategic (and tactical) mobility of your armoured forces. This is big
 

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