|Centurion Light Battle Tank|
|Type||Light Battle Tank|
|Place of origin||Libraria and Ausitoria|
|Used by||Libraria and Ausitoria, Royal East Ausitorian Commodities Company, other Ausitorian companies|
|Designer||Royal East Ausitorian Commodities Company|
|Unit cost||ABR c. 6 million|
|Number built||c. 400,000|
|Variants|| past Centurion I, II, III |
present Centurion IV LBT, Decurion Infantry Tank
|Weight||40 tonnes (up to 50 tonnes with Additional Armour Protection for Centurion IV)|
|Length||7.93 (including gun)|
|length||7.30 m (excluding gun)|
|Width||3.02 m (excluding skirt)|
|Crew|| Centurion LBT: 3 (commander, gunner, driver) (gunner, driver) |
others: 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
|Armor||Ti-WS2-U-XC fullerene composite blend, Additional Rhinoceros Armoured Protection (ARAP) Composite - ERA bricks|
| Centurion LBT: |
| All variants: |
1 x 155 mm ATGM launcher (2 rounds) or 2 x 20 mm autocannon (1500 rounds)
|Engine|| Recent variants: |
Firedrake VIII-1/2 Diesel and Aerosphere VI Electric motor
Older variants (Centurion I - IIIa):
|Suspension|| Recent variants: Silk polymer |
Older variants: Hydropneumatic
|Ground clearance||0.4m (0.3m with anti-mine armour)|
|Fuel capacity||900 Litres|
|Speed|| Maximum: 75kph (Ungoverned, road)|
Off road: 65kph
Additional Rhinoceros Armour Protection (ARAP): -10 kph
The Centurion Tank is a series of airmobile third-generation light/battle tanks designed for and operated by Libraria and Ausitoria. Although widely praised for its strategical mobility, it has been criticized for being under-armoured when not equipped with additional ERA, and has been criticized for the difficulty of upgrading it relative to its small size and its lack of crew for high-tempo operations; and is typically complemented with a larger more conventional main battle tank.
- 1 History
- 2 Armament
- 3 Protection
- 4 Propulsion and Mobility
- 5 Crew
- 6 Variants
- 7 Operators
A faster airmobile descendent of the old 'Dragon' Heavy Tank design and a successor to the earlier Cruiser Tanks in philosophy, the Centurion Tank was designed from the outset to serve as strategically and tactically manoeuvrable weapons platforms capable of commanding operations and engaging a wide variety of targets in a large and highly mobile combined arms battlespace for an expeditionary force.
The Centurion Tank had its roots in the strategic review of 376 (AST) in the first year of the Imperial Commonwealth, which recommended a new Main Battle Tank. The designs at the time consisted of the first generation Archer Tank, a lighter-armed upgrade of the older War-vintage Oliphunt Tank, which was equipped with an 88 mm main cannon and too lightly armed as a result; and the first generation Dragon Tank, a more heavily-armoured upgrade of the same, which was equipped with a 100 mm main cannon and too slow as a result.
The War Office immediately issued a request for designs. After hotly contested trials, in which the Royal East Ausitorian Commodities Company and their rivals Marlow Arms were predominant, the latter's large ambitious 120 mm-armed design was rejected in favour of the former's upgrade to the Archer on the grounds that it was lighter and easier to move by sea and, remarkably for the time, by air. However Marlow's innovative angled front design was incorporated into the design, and with Marlow to build the Chassis, the Centurion was equipped with a 100 mm cannon; entering service in 380. The Decurion Light Tank with the 75 mm gun was also introduced that year, sacrificing some side and rear armament for speed.
As with most Ausitorian Tanks, no sooner had the vehicles left the drawing boards than upgrades were already being considered. As available airlift power increased, it became possible to improve the engines, range, and armour; and eventually from the Centurion II the main gun was increased to a relatively slow-firing 120 mm, entering service in 384, the same year that the Decurion CIWS/Command variant came into being in response to developments in missile technology. The 120 mm gun was soon criticized for being underpowered, but the subsequent economic crash and advent of electronics meant upgrading had to proceed without the expense of designing a new tank or substantial redesigning.
With the lifting of austerity, a major redesign was eventually made in 394 in the form of the Centurion III. It was decided to swap the rear engine with the driver to make better use of the internal space, allowing for an upgraded turret with a higher muzzle velocity, smoother computer stabilized fire controls, and greater automation; with the earlier Tanks being either phased out or upgraded. The weight was also reduced to allow the Centurion to be carried by the Dragon Emperor, finally allowing vertical airmobility. Simultaneously the Decurions also received an anti-tank missile and a major upgrade to their electronics and fire control.
Subsequently the realization of increasing missile threats to main battle tanks and the need for active protection systems made clear the need for further upgrades, which were carried out easily on the Decurions; but it was felt that there was not enough space in the Centurion III turret unless one of the crew-members was removed, an arrangement that was rushed out as the Centurion IV, which entered service in 400. The removal of the fourth crew member meant that the workload on the remaining three crew members was increased noticeably, a decision that was highly controversial, increasing the workload and leading to the decision that the Centurion IV should only be operated pared with the larger Riysan T-11 Victory tanks, with the Centurion IV effectively operating under the command of the neighbouring tank. The Decurion Tanks have retained four crew members to support their more general command functions.
Recent research has focused on providing further mobility and weight reductions, partly to allow some spare capacity for carrying aircraft, including the increasingly ubiquitous Emperor, and partly to increase speed and maneuverability. Other advances being reported are a focus on providing more flexible tank tracks, re-positionable armour, and signature reduction to avoid direct hits to the main body. Currently it is understood that a high specific-strength Iron-Aluminium alloy prototype is under construction.
Having been designed from the outset to be airmobile, The Centurion Tanks have been too small to have their armament upgraded beyond a 120 mm calibre. Therefore while the Centurion Tanks can still defeat a great number of older tanks, the primary armament has been optimized for firing a comprehensive array of smart shells, rockets, and missiles, with the 4 x 45 mm long rockets and 27 x 35 mm canister arrangements being amongst the most popular. To this end the maximum elevation of the 120 mm cannon is 33 degrees.
Most of the rounds fired by these cannon can be fired in fire-and-forget mode, with tri-seeking millimetric radar, lasers and fibre-optics normal; with combinations of ammunition of the anti-air, anti-personnel, anti-vehicle, anti-sensor or anti-missile varieties. Larger rounds are often controlled from battlefield headquarters, and may be re-targeted in flight. Recent missiles designs for the Centurion have also included mini missiles/shells/rockets that spray IR-luminescent paint to guide larger missiles, missiles that fire over a target and then creep up from behind, and warheads which coordinate with each other to hit the same point simultaneously.
To cope with this array of ammunition, the main cannon is chromium coated, and the turret, and ignition chamber is thermally and chemically stress-hardened and autofrettaged in the best traditions of materials science. The hydraulic system ensures a smooth recoil, and the over-engineered muzzle break and autoloader is able to fire an initial burst of three rounds in eight seconds. The warheads, typically of the different types are held in four magazines in the turret. Such magazines can be easily replenished or replaced from behind in the same style, as changing a rifle magazine. This change may be effected within a minute with a maintenance truck.
With the 120 mm gun increasingly less useful, the Decurion Light Tank design makes use of a 75 mm gun, which is considered more than sufficient to destroy the armour of less-well protected enemy IFVs. The CIWS variants have found considerable use as a command Tank and more recently as an armoured medical transport. The 155 mm anti-tank missile launcher was added to these variants to provide them with sufficient firepower to deal with a surprise enemy tank without referral to artillery support or heavy tanks.
Secondary and Electronic Warfare
The main armament, except in the CIWS variants, is joined on the turret by a double 20 mm autocannon and 12.5 mm automatic machine guns designed for rapid-movement with a double-armed swivel. These are intended not only for engaging targets while the main gun is busy but also to put up a point-defence CIWS bubble in concert with groups of other tanks similar to that enjoyed by an aircraft carrier. These weapons automatically find and engages targets, preferably under the direction of command aircraft overhead.
Both may fire heavy or light ammunition, depending on whether engaging defensively or offensively.
The recent variants have a forward module that can be fitted with specialist equipment, e.g. small UAVs to look over the next hill, long-range tactical missiles, bridging equipment, anti-landmine chains, extra communications equipment, extra computing power, chaff rockets, smoke grenades, another CIWS, a light infantry-support machine gun.
All compartments and magazines are designed to be easily replaced. Like most Ausitorian vehicles, the Centurion tank is fitted with Lidar, Radar, and limited E/W capacity.
Electronics and Fire Control
To manage the menagerie of possible weapons and threats that this tank thrives in, the Tank makes use of the Ausitorian battle theatre system to communicate with all other units and sensors on the battlefield, and allow concerted autonomous computers to acquire, track, and engage targets of any types with the various types of ammunition available. The result has been described in tests as 'a battlefield where only the computers know what is going on and tens of thousands of projectiles hurtle through the air every minute', making battles much faster and giving the advantage to the technologically superior side.
The Tank makes use of a complex composite material incorporating layered cold-rolled hot-rolled reinforced (CRHR) titanium, a mixed tungsten-disulphide fullerene layer, a lighter and more flexible carbon fullerene net ceramic to provide some protection after any initial fracture, and a few layers of depleted Uranium; held together by anti-spalling piezoelectric halogeno-carbon fullerene net reinforced polymers (ASPFNRP) similar to those found in Nacre or mother-of-pearl.
The entire system can be applied in plate (usually best for an under-layer) or in replaceable bricks. The piezoelectric polymers serve the dual purpose of dissipating mechanical stress as electrical energy and conversely dissipating EMPS and radar waves by slight mechanical expansion or contraction. Relatively simple non-explosive reactive armour (NERA) plate underneath absorbs remaining shocks and also functions like a faraday cage, further limiting EMP damage. The under-plate has also been reinforced as protection against remotely detonated explosives.
Despite the expensive armour, firing tests have suggested that is only when engaged frontally that the sloped composite surface of the Centurion IV will reliably stand the punishment of 120 mm HEAT rounds. However the much smaller frontal cross section and active defense systems have both been shown to significantly reduce the probability of being hit.
This lack of armour became subject to considerable controversy, with one report suggesting the tank should have a further ten tonnes of armour as standard to be able to stand up to urban combat operations, resulting in the standard application of the Additional Rhinoceros Armour Layer (ARAL), which employs bricks of the same layered composite structure on top of bricks of explosive reactive armourat a cost of about 10 kph in speed. The name Rhinoceros is in honour of an earlier Ausitorian Tank that was castigated by generals for its low speed until Ausitoria’s enemies developed a better tank-destroyer gun and the Rhinoceros came into its own.
The ability to rapidly add the armour bricks, each of about 40 kg in weight, is highly prized, with a typical six-man team capable of recoating an entire tank in under ten minutes.
Camouflage, Concealment, and Signature Reduction
Besides the smaller cross-section, the Centurion is usually painted with a special dark turqouise paint designed to absorb IR wavelengths. By virtue of the composite armour, the tank is also well equipped to absorb X-rays.
Although the reduction of the IR/Thermal and radar signature was pursued from the second variant onwards, with the exhaust air cooled and the noise of the engine damped by the early adoption of piezoelectrics, the modern variants may run silently on their electrical motors for a short while.
In addition to the secondary weapons and electromagnetic defenses, variants of the Centurion can fire up to eight canisters of chaff and smoke grenades.
Propulsion and Mobility
Before the Centurion IV, there were two engines: a diesel engine in a box at the front and an electrical motor in a box at the back and then forward-centre. However the rearrangement of the Centurion IV has seen the addition of the forward APS/UAV module on the right and further space freed up towards the centre, and there are now three engines spread from the centre to the front of the tank. This does however make repairing/replacing the engine more complicated.
However the result is more powerful, upping the top speed, generates even less heat, is relatively silent, and also takes advantage of technological advances in fuel efficiency and other incremental improvements in modern vehicle manufacture.
Air intake can be ensured by two methods: firstly a small supply of air may be kept by the engine for when the tank is partially submerged, and secondly sand filters may be employed when traversing desert terrain. Manoeuvrability is ensured by rear-vision manoeuvering cameras, and normal all-terrain shrouded tracks (which have four drive rollers).
As is normal in Ausitorian tanks, the Centurion contains a hot and cold drink point, a fridge, and incorporates some room for personal items or memorabilia. With adjustable luxury saloon seats and wifi, the Centurion IV is capable of operating in temperatures from -36C to 57C.
The number of crew has been the subject of much dispute; and the reliance upon automation has drawn criticism. For the Centurion IV, battle tests have showed it to be difficult to also manage the secondary armament, with the result that UAV variants are only used when there is a larger tank capable of managing them, and Centurion IVs are no longer equipped with offensive 20 mm ammunition. For a while the earlier Centurion III variant was maintained to work in pairs with the Centurion IV, so that the Centurion III commander effectively also commanded the neighbouring Centurion IV tank. However with the introduction of the Mk II U Snow Leopard the Centurion III has been passed on to reserve forces.
Centurion I (105 mm cannon)
Centurion II (120 mm cannon)
Decurion I (75 mm cannon)
Decurion IIa (75 mm cannon)
Decurion CIWS/Command Tank I (6x20 mm autocannon)
Centurion III (120 mm cannon)
Centurion III 1/2 (120 mm cannon)
Centurion IV (120 mm cannon)
Decurion IIb (75 mm cannon)
Decurion CIWS/Command Tank II (6x20 mm autocannon)
Centurion III: 14,342
Centurion IV: 34,101
Decurion IIb: 21,171
Decurion CIWS/Command Tank II: 104,922