The ultimate question we often receive is which is the best main battle tank in the world and still in service. The question is still here, which is the most significant modern Main Battle Tank (MBT) and why. We counted our top 5 analyses based on the combined score of protection, firepower, accuracy, and mobility of armored beasts. All of the tanks mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating. However, none of them had an opportunity to engage each other during military operations yet.
The current analysis is based on technical specifications and available public data. Crew training of the tank is also important, as the performance of the actual tank depends on from the crew performance. This list does not contain tanks that are currently under development or are at the prototype stage. It contains only fully developed and tanks which are curently in mass production and introduced into service
German Leopard 2A7 – probably the deadliest MBT in the world
It is a recent version of the proven and successful German Leopard 2 design. It has additional armor and updated electronics and the tank itself is well protected against conventional and urban warfare threats, such as RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) rounds and IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
The Leopard 2A7 has better accuracy and longer range of fire comparing with other tanks due to its powerful gun and advanced fire control system. It is powered by a proven engine, developing 1 500 Horse Power (hp). Despite the increase in weight, vehicle has increased mobility due to improved suspension components. Cross-country performance is similar to other Leopard 2 series tanks.
German Army ordered the first batch of 20 Leopard 2A7 Main Battle Tanks, upgraded from Leopard 2A6. Deliveries commenced in 2014. German Army plans to upgrade 50 to 150 tanks to the 2A7 standard. Qatar ordered 62 of these Main Battle Tanks and Saudi Arabia more than 200.
South Korean K2 Black Panther
Currently the Black Panther is one of the most advanced main battle tanks in the world, outclassing anything North Korea or China have. Furthermore, it is the most expensive main battle tank to date. This tank uses composite armor of undisclosed type and explosive reactive armor modules. The K2 is also completed with active protection and countermeasures systems. Its protection is broadly similar to the M1A2 Abrams, considering that the K2 is much lighter.
This new South Korean tank is armed with the latest German 120-mm gun, similar to that used on the Leopard 2A6 and 2A7. This tank has a very advanced fire control system with can spot, track and fire automatically at visible vehicle-size targets, even low-flying helicopters, without needing any input from a human operator. The K2 also uses advanced munitions.
The Black Panther is fitted with a powerful diesel engine. It is fast and has a state-of-the-art hydropneumatic suspension. Currently, it is not yet in series production. It might enter service with the South Korean Army soon.
M1A2 SEP (USA)
The M1A2 SEP is a successor to the M1 Abrams. This tank has incredible technology and armor. Also, it has seen combat. It is one of the most feared MBTs. The M1A2 SEP offers significant protection against all well-known anti-tank weapons. This main battle tank uses advanced armor, reinforced with depleted uranium layers.
Its gun and accuracy are slightly inferior to that of the Leopard 2A7. Yet it still packs a formidable punch. It’s complex gas turbine engine offers good performance, but requires a tremendous amount of maintenance, logistical support and is thirsty on fuel.
A number of older M1, M1A1, and M1A2 tanks were upgraded to this standard. The tank can be also fitted with a Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK), that improves survivability in an urban environment. To date, very few Abrams tanks have been destroyed in combat and almost not even one operated by US Military crew.
The M1A2 SEP is in service with United States Army (at least 900). It is planned that this tank will remain in service beyond 2050. The M1A2 SEP has not been exported yet. However, the previous M1A2 has been supplied to Kuwait (218 tanks) and Saudi Arabia (373 tanks).
Challenger 2 (United Kingdom)
It is a very capable tank. The Challenger 2 has the latest Chobham armor and is one of the most protected MBTs in the world today. It offers very high level of protection against direct fire weapons. This British-made tank is armed with a very accurate 120-mm rifled gun. Its gun is rifled as opposed to smoothbore guns used by all other modern Main Battle Tanks. Its maximum aimed range is over 5 km. Currently, the British Challenger holds the record for the longest tank-to-tank kill.
The engine of the Challenger 2 is less powerful than of its Western rivals. Also, it is not as fast as other Main Battle Tanks. However, this tank is famous for its mechanical reliability. The Challenger 2 is in service with United Kingdom (386 tanks) and Oman (38 tanks).
Russian Armata T-14
The Armata T-14 is a new Russian main battle tank of a new generation. It was first publicly revealed in 2015. Its full-scale production could begin in 2017-2018. The Armata is a clean sheet design with a number of advanced features. It shares little common with the current T-90. The Armata T-14 is much bigger.
Its specifications are classified, however, the Armata might be one of the most protected tanks in the world. It has newly-developed base armor, made of steel, ceramics, and composite materials. Also, Armata has a new add-on explosive reactive armor. It has been reported that Armata will be fitted with the new active protection system. It also has a new countermeasures system that reduces the chance of being hit by enemy ATGW with semi-automatic guidance.
This tank is operated by a crew of 3 men. All crew members are seated side-by-side in a well protected armored cell, located at the front of the hull. It is the first production Main Battle Tank with such crew layout. The tank can operate even with penetrated armor, as far as the crew cell is intact.
The Russian Armata T-14 is also a world’s first production Main Battle Tank with the completely unmanned turret. It is armed with a 125-mm smoothbore gun that can also launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. The gun is completed with an autoloader. This tank has a hunter-killer capability. It has been reported that this tank is fitted with a diesel engine, developing 1 200 hp.
The introduction of this new Russian Main Battle Tank created a stir in the West. Now a number of countries, such as Germany and UK are looking to upgrade their tanks, or develop new designs.